Like most systems of karate, there are five basic waza... Breath, Stance, Block, Kick and Punch. Within these waza are principles.
In breath (kokyo), we find three principle levels... They are lung, lower abdomen and tension breath. Breathing in level one is what we do normally and unconciously. It is noted by expansion and expellation of air in the upper body / chest. Level two breathing is directed towards breathing into the lower abdomen. This is accomplished by allowing the diaphram to lower when expanding the lungs, giving the appearance of abdomenal expansion. Level three breathing is found in breathing into abdomenal contraction with tension being used on exhalation. Another breathing practice, known as dead breathing, being the most difficult to accomplish, is the art of passive breathing without using the diaphram. The breath principles are divided into two categories: Nogare, being the Shuri-te method is recognized through its normal breathing, inhaling and exhaling through the nose, having quiet and natural sound, utilizing tension with relaxation in the muscles, giving us strong and rapid technique execution and allowing of a gliding, quick walking. Ibuki, being the Naha-te method is recognized as an artificial breathing, breathing in the the nose but exhaling through the mouth, it is loud and hissing in sound, also utilizing tension with relaxation in the muscles, giving us natural and defined movements and an exagerated walk with arching movement.
Stances (dachi) are divided up into levels of depth and length. Advancement in practice will lead to deeper stances and application of technique will dictate the length of stance. Stances are practiced in movement and transition from one stance to another. Stances are not only the vehicle of our technique, but also teach us balance. Balance in excution of technique and balance in movement. Often, what matters most to a 'good' stance is what happens between stances when moving from stance to stance.
Blocks (uke) are what they appear to be and, often times, hidden in what their true usage is. Many blocks can be interpreted as strikes. In blocking different levels with different types of blocks, we learn to apply the correct block with a responsive striking technique. Blocks are both done with the hands, arms, feet and legs. As with stances, there are levels of blocking in terms of depth and technique that are relative to a students level of training.
Kicks (geri) can be utilized in numerous ways. Many kicks are considered to be 'long range' technique. They 'close' the gap or create the 'gap' against an opponent. Some kicking techniques are excellent in using for 'infight' technique. Using the knee or snapping short range foot technique are often synchronized with hand technique, especially in the case of 'infighting'.
Punches (tsuki), or hand strikes, are endless in the way they are applied and executed. Many striking technique are dependent upon stance or body positioning. From open hand, knuckles, finger pokes, fisted or chopped, there are many varieties of strikes in our arsenal. The elbow, with a number of different directions of movement, is also catergorized as a strike. Striking technique are practiced in a way to create combinations and effectiveness. Some technique require an experienced coordination for which to execute.
Often overlooked is the importance of breath with technique. In expelling our breath with kicks, punches, blocks and stance movements, we become more powerful, focused, relaxed and fast. Techniques are executed in a relaxed state and only tensed upon impact. This allows us to deliver a faster more fluid technique resulting in the greatest delivery of impacted power.
Our essential application waza include the 'nine moving forces' known as undo chikara. These are Breath Control Techniques, Applied Pressure Techniques, Joint Bending Techniques, Technique of Striking Vital Targets, Absorbing / Controlling Pain, Holding and Grappling Techniques, Throwing and Sweeping Techniques, Choking Techniques and Countering Techniques to all of the aforementioned.
In our Kata (form), we are given a compilation of movements with series of techniques. As we practice over and over again the movements, we achieve the proper coordination, balance, power, focus and timing in our kata. In our bunkai (interpretation) of each kata movement, we then realize what we are doing to our 'imaginary' opponents.
Bunkai is broke down into levels or categories. First, we have mina bunkai, interpreting the technique as executed in the kata. This indicates what we are blocking and where we are kicking and striking. Interpreted on a 'per opponent' basis, we can easily see what we are doing in our kata. The next level, goshindo bunkai, is to utilize the given technique in a kata's movement as a self-defense interpretation. The hidden movements and subtle movements between stances and the arrangement of our techniques reveal the deeper truth of our kata. This is called bunkai katamari or bunkai hakai, (mass or destroying movements). In this level of bunkai, we utilize undo chikara (the nine moving forces). Movements now take on a deeper meaning (or interpretation), demonstrating chokes, throws, sweeps, joint locks, applications to pressure points and vital strikes. In working with the bunkai of any kata, we also explore means for which to counter the bunkai if applied to the defender. This is called bunkai kaeshu. On another aspect of bunkai, one also adds to the application so as to create a 'follow-up' known as bunkai kusaru. This is interpreted as 'embellishment'. Kata is, without a doubt, the essence of karate. This monumental understanding takes us away from the earlier preconceived fallacies that karate is just a percussion (striking) art of self-defense.
In kumite (point sparring) as well as in self-defense, we practice five basic maneuvering strategies. They are: To Overpower our opponent (attacking before the opponent does), To Interrupt the opponent (attacking in the midst of our opponent's committed technique), To Escape from our opponent (giving way to the opponents movement then countering), To Borrow from the opponents movement (leading the opponent in our favor of direction) and To Control the opponent (holding the opponent in position and attacking).
Our elusiveness in fighting is our practice of Kado ido (angular movement) and Taisabaki (body pivoting). This training aspect teaches the body to move in tangent angles to avoid and counter our opponents attack. Often, our opponent ends up 'loosing us' in the forward assault of his attack. Where most practitioners will jump back in defense of a frontal attack, our karate-ka (practitioners) will pass through and around the opponents attack to find him/herself on the opponents back side of weaknesses where countering attack is favorable. This, in combination with our technique of blocking and striking, gives way to what we call 'star-stepping'.
In our studying of karate, we become knowledable of all facets of proper and healthy living. Foods, culinary as well as medicinal have a place in our studies. Having a knowledge of their benefits and ill-effects can give us the 'edge' to improving our health. Studying and practicing many techniques gives us a knowledge of body mechanics and physical science. Understanding the execution and application of those many techniques gives us the knowledge of the muscular, arterial/venous, skeletal and nervous systems of the body. A deeper study of kyusho jitsu (pressure techniques) takes us into the acupuncture and acupressure of body meridians. Our karate is a tradition with years of proven passage. We study the art, culture and history. Meditation methods are also introduced and practiced. For total body, mind and spirit health, karate is complete.
Below, links are provided that will take you to the Karate Fundamentals and System Characteristics pages...