Ryukyu Martial Arts Research 琉球武道研究

The importance of Kihon 基本

The importance of Kihon 基本 / by Itzik Cohen
Kihon 基本 (base, foundation, basis, standard) is the cornerstone of any classic art. The kihon is analogous to the elementary particles which make up the material, that is to all those elements that make up the technique.
The order of elementary particles, their quantity, the relations and connections between them, determine the type of the material, its nature, and its properties. Kihon components also determine the type and quality of the technique and more than that, the quality and character of the Karate-ka.

The Kihon is permanent. Some parts are fixed and other may change. Therefore, the way of practicing Kihon as well as the practitioner’s intention is of great importance.

Kihon must be practiced both individually and in groups.
Personal training provides the practitioner ability to give and receive maximum attention regardless of environmental parameters. The personal practice intensifies the practitioner's internal observation and attention. Personal practice is very important and I consider it as critical for proper progress of the practitioner. The personal practice will reward the practitioner at every level and is necessary in advanced levels as well. This is actually a process in which the practitioner undergoes personal coping with the material. Personal practice brings the practitioner to the study of fundamental stuff within intimate preoccupation of Karate (of course, the Sensei is required to guide the practitioner in this long run process). It is an introspection process.

In group framework it is recommended to practice Kihon at the beginning of each class immediately after warmup. Thus the practitioner is still physically and mentally vigilant and able to pay full attention to the small details while practising Kihon. The practice will begin with natural standing and without movement in space. It will be done at a consistent pace with precise repetition of movements without any changes and with maximum attention to each individual move. Occasionally, the pace or intensity may change by the Sensei’s instruction. Repeating the same movement at same pace enables the practitioner the ability to deepen the concentration in details and constantly improve himself/herself. It is important to be aware not to get into automatic mode and stay fully alert. It is actually meditation in motion. The practitioner may repeat the same technique at the same pace as a hundred repetitions or a thousand repetitions. As for the practitioner, each technique begins each time from the beginning as it was the first time, when he/she strives to improve it over and over again.

During next stage, a short combination can be constructed from number of techniques in static standing or while moving in space and change positions. This way of training allows us to concentrate and improve parameters such as relationship between basic techniques, hip work, posture, balance and coordination.

In almost all classical art there are basic exercises that artists perform as a routine, whatever their level, whether it is opera, piano, violin, ballet or Karate.

The opera singers will practice daily basic exercises to maintain their vocal cords and their ability to produce the desired sounds. Same about professional musicians and dancers.
The most popular ballerina in every professional ballet group will perform the same basic routine exercises, repeating over and over again while giving maximum attention. A number of base techniques will then be combined into different combinations. Same idea about musicians and Karate-ka(s) as well.

Inconsistency of Kihon practicing will soon lead to a decrease in the practitioner’s performance. On the other hand, emphasis on basic work yields a significant improvement in the internalization of the technique and in the production of power.

Kihon- Kyudokan Okinawa

Kihon is the key to a proper comprehension of Karate and to Karate development within methodical framework. Many questions will be answered during the many years of practice. During each period the practitioner will peel another layer and advance closer to the core of the art.

Most Karate-ka(s) nowadays do not engage with Karate every day. They come to the Dojo to practice twice a week with the intention of exercising, sweating, unloading tension and diversifying their activities as much as they can. This is fine - and yet, consistent practice of Kihon is a prerequisite for both basic understanding and deep understanding of Okinawan Karate, and indeed in most Dojos in Okinawa, Kihon occupies a central place of learning and practice the art of Karate.

Itzik Cohen

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