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  • Writer's picturePaul Kilduff

Isshinryu Basics

  By Sensei Kelly Cere

Importance of the basics I have seen throughout my years of training so many schools no longer emphasize the basics. They focus more on kata and memorizing the moves instead of having good technique. Their students can go through the moves but lack the understanding of the technique and how it should be done. For example, they head block with their arm in the wrong position and their wrist bent or curled. If they actually had to block a wild punch coming at them, they would most likely hurt themselves instead of stopping the action. The reason, they continue to learn one kata after another making the same basic mistakes, that get carried on and on. Why? I believe that today dojos are more concerned with keeping students so they can pay their bills. So, they just keep students “moving through” their program and handing out promotion after promotion. Once the student learns the basics, they usually start the first kata, but I have seen dojos start teaching kata on the student’s first day, which to me is insane! This behavior just promotes the cycle of students having bad technique from one kata after another. I like to come up with creative ways to mask the repetition of doing basics. This way students hopefully don’t get bored doing the same thing repeatedly which we know is the key to developing muscle memory. At my dojo we start every class with basics. Here are a few examples of how to make basics more fun and challenging: 1. Upper body basics 1 - 4, do 4 reps stepping forward, then do 4 reps stepping backwards. 2. Upper body basics 5 - 10, do 4 reps stepping backwards, then do 4 reps going forward but add 2 more punches (block - punch - punch - punch - punch) 3. Lower body basics 4 - 7, set the kicking leg in front instead of back. 4. Combine upper and lower body basics together. For example: front kick with right left, set down in front, set hands on left side of belt, down block right, left reverse punch. 5. Work basics with a partner or on focus mitts. Be creative yourself and make the basics fun. Put more emphasis on them to get your students excited about doing them too!

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