Kihon is Kumite
By Steve Bailes 4th Dan HDKI (Blackwater Valley Shotokan)
I often ask the questions “Why and What and How we train lots of basic techniques or Kihon practice”?
There are many benefits from Kihon training and that’s why we do so much Kihon training in different formats and drills
If we look back in history of what Kihon and Kata evolved from, why it was developed? And how it was developed to forge an empty hand weapon to defend and protect and survive in life and death situation in times of military wars and tough times.
The training of Kihon was to develop and train the Budo spirit required to train the mind and body for such critical combat of survival or death in the martial days and form it to an art the art of combat using the empty hand (and feet and more).
Today we live in more peaceful days and where the military combat is fought with sophisticated weapons in today’s technology world, but some streets still have danger but in a more modern way, but one could argue its still cultural violence we face.
This means today’s training and studying has evolved from life and death to health and fitness and hobbies or social interactions and friendships. Along with Japan with the introduction to the education system creating a more tailored Karate to fit all ages and the requirement to appeal to all people in a different viewpoint to its original intentions, making it more popular and sometimes less violent.
So How does this fit into Kihon for Kumite?
With the mindset of Kihon and Kata training for Kumite we hold onto the core value of our art in its Martial form its roots, traditional values of its concept to survive in battle or combat, whether its 1 or 100 enemies.
Today we train our Kihon for our more modern needs whatever they are to YOU as its your Karate, (Shu Ha Ri) and thus the practice of Kihon can make up many ways of how you want to represent your Karate and the benefits you take from it.
If we take our Kihon training back to its raw roots, we then start our Kihon training with basics for basics or Kihon.
Thinking Kihon is Kumite we practice and learn how to use our body and muscles to perform Kihon, EG: moving in stances and making shapes in our early studies then moving on to a more deeper study of Kihon and this is where the real training of Kihon develops into Kumite and great gifts come from this Kihon practice, and so our karate blossoms which we can use as a weapon.
The Weapon is forged from a basic material to start like a Samurai sword, its forged from a Square Section of Steel this is where our Basic for Kihon training starts, we are the Square piece of Steel of the Weapon or Sword. With basic training we forge the blade out into a shape of a blade this is the shape in its initial stages of becoming a weapon, and also our early stage of Kihon.
Making the shape and applying heat we can hammer the steel to form the curve and length of our Sword to our own preferred size or shape, a long sword or short sword . From making the blade it now needs to be refined and reworked in its balance , its sharpness to cut, and fit ones body as an extension of the arms and feet.
In our Kihon training we resemble the process of the weapon by training our Kihon from basic training into Kihon training, moving and developing how we get from shape to shape and then discovering our form with speed and movement, or sharpness like the type of cut we want from the blade to the balance of our Karate in transitions and positions in our stances.
We now have developed our weapon from a Shape to a more refined Sword blade with balance and a cutting edge, but this is still in its raw process of becoming a weapon of use.
Taking the Weapon in its raw process to a weapon capable of being used to protect, we develop this by essential refined polishing and adding the grip or handle to connect with oneself. This we develop in our Kihon with timing and connecting our centre, moving from our centre, striking with precision and speed and focus.
Our weapon is made and connected with us and shaped to move with your body shape and size and now the deeper beauty of Kihon training begins in a more refined way with discovery of oneself in the training.
This is where we refine or what happens in between, and the vital ingredents to make a perfected Oi Zuki or Mae Geri. The A- C effect, A being the start and C the finish or start of A, but B is in the fine detail and where the weapon is very much alive! We strive to eventually make it A- B.
This is where our Kihon training becomes alive and with much study in all areas of perfection and understanding. “The Why”
We now develop our weapon or Sword with a connection to our mind and body and now we develop our Sprirt , our Budo !
The Sword or Weapon will destroy only when its connected with a sprirt behind it, controlling its movement and placement to deliever what you have trained it to do naturally without thought.
This is the dedication to Kihon training and we embark on a endless journey of fine tuning in our mind and body using Kihon in Kata and Kumite to strive for perfection, but also within the journey we discover our character.
The weapon will also develop a character which you forge into with your training. How you develop this will reflect on how it will perform for YOU, and how you train .
Kihon training should never stop but keep evolving, Kihon training is our weapon of survival and is so important to understand the depth it goes,our foundation to all, and this is why we study an art !
Kihon is Kumite , Kata is Kumite, Kihon training is far more than its translation of “Basics”, it’s the foundation of our weapon and the mindset for Kumite the training for a Budo spirit.
The Journey is endless and Kihon is part of the inner core to all our endless Karate.