Goju-Ryu white belt testing soon. Can we talk about stances and kicks?

Groark

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One of my most basic stances is han zenkutsu dachi, and that is where a lot of fighting and movements begin with. I have a problem when I try a basic front kick and I move or rise my body along with the kick. I do this when I slide forward as well, and my Sensei tells me that what I want to do is be perfectly level at all times in my upper body.

Is this hard for you to do as well? I find it incredibly awkward to have one foot ahead, and one behind (never quite sure just how far or how wide), then kick forward and land back where I was before - all while keeping my upper body level! I'm falling all over, haha.

I appreciate any comments, advice, or support. I am uneasy about my first testing, although the entire dojo has assured me that I will pass without a doubt. I want to kick right...
 
Speed is the key. The knee lifts, the kick snaps, leg reconcile, foot sets down. Keep the forward knee bent slightly. I can't advise you on stance, I don't do gojuryu.
 
Speed is the key. The knee lifts, the kick snaps, leg reconcile, foot sets down. Keep the forward knee bent slightly. I can't advise you on stance, I don't do gojuryu.

You are spot on about the kick I am describing (mae geri in Goju-Ryu). It's a four-point movement, striking with the ball of the foot. It must be the common front kick across all styles. I am very, very new to Karate, I do not know many things.

I am not sure if I am practicing good form with the ball of my foot extended, because I can't see my own foot move that fast if I aim for speed. So I refrain from practicing fast kicks, even though I have more range, speed and power. Control is uncertain. I am sorry, I am not explaining myself well.

These are things I will discuss with my Sensei, to be sure. I am glad for your input, too, Bill.
 
You will be fine. Mae geri is a good kick. Get the knee up level to the floor or higher and let it rip. Practice on the bag to get form; you will quickly know if you are hitting with the ball of the foot or not.
 
You will be fine. Mae hero is a good kick. Get the knee up level to the floor or higher and let it rip. Practice on the bag to get form; you will quickly know if you are hitting with the ball of the foot or not.

I practiced some kicks just now and speed does help. There is less time to slip out of posture. It feels good, too! I'll let a few dozen more rip before bed. :)
 
I had to look up the stance, since I don't do karate. That looks like a somewhat deep stance, with your feet about shoulder width and at least one foot length between your front and back foot (almost as deep as what we'd call ahp gubi or front stance in TKD). Is that right?

That is more challenging than kicking from a more narrow stance. In addition to speed, like Bill suggests, you may want to work on your core strength and general balance.
 
All good points above. In the beginning stages stances and movement are just as important as the techniques themselves.

You can check your stance by starting out with your feet shoulder-width apart. Stepping back with either foot and kneeling down, your knee should be in line with your front heel. Learning to transfer your weight to your front foot is crucial and is part of the principles that you are beginning to learn.

Also by allowing your body to rise up when you kick, you in fact, lose your route footing and is why you go off balance. I have studied Okinawa GoJu for many years and there is a saying that says, "battles are won and lost within the transition of our stances".

Generally speaking in Okinawa when a sensei corrects you he will do it only once and generally not take any questions during the class. It sounds harsh but basically he is telling you all you need to know to make it happen.

Good luck on your Okinawan Goju experience it is an awesome art, stick with it listen well and you will do fine.
 
Speed is the key. The knee lifts, the kick snaps, leg reconcile, foot sets down.
Personally, I think there's a lot of value in training these sorts of kicks in slow motion when trying to correct details of form.

To the OP - raising up while kicking is a pretty common problem for beginners. Without seeing you move, it's hard to pinpoint where exactly the issue is. It might be a problem with core strength, hip flexibility, balance, or just a matter of not having developed the correct habits yet. Practicing the kick in slow motion won't be easier (it'll probably be harder), but it may allow you to spot where exactly you are having problems.

Another possibility - get in your stance and have a friend hold a yardstick horizontally just above your head. Practice your kick and figure out what you have to do to avoid raising up and bumping your head on the yardstick. This sort of feedback is useful because it lets you know the moment you start to raise your level.
 
Personally, I think there's a lot of value in training these sorts of kicks in slow motion when trying to correct details of form.

Yes, in general. However, with a front snap kick, the motion does not work very well in slow motion, in my experience. This is true of both trying to learn it and trying to teach it. Actually performing the kick slowly and holding it requires pretty darned good balance, which is more than I would expect from a beginner.

To the OP - raising up while kicking is a pretty common problem for beginners. Without seeing you move, it's hard to pinpoint where exactly the issue is. It might be a problem with core strength, hip flexibility, balance, or just a matter of not having developed the correct habits yet. Practicing the kick in slow motion won't be easier (it'll probably be harder), but it may allow you to spot where exactly you are having problems.

It might allow the OP's instructor to spot the issue, but I would not expect the beginner to see where he or she was going wrong.

Another possibility - get in your stance and have a friend hold a yardstick horizontally just above your head. Practice your kick and figure out what you have to do to avoid raising up and bumping your head on the yardstick. This sort of feedback is useful because it lets you know the moment you start to raise your level.

Interesting, I never thought of that. When I assist with students, I typically watch their shoulders and when I see them come up, I take note of where they are in the kick.
 
It's going to sound counter-intuitive -- but as you kick, sink down into your stance. The natural tendency is to rise as you raise the kicking leg; to straighten the supporting leg and to either rise up or lean to maintain your balance. Sinking slightly onto the supporting leg will help to counter this tendency.
 
It's going to sound counter-intuitive -- but as you kick, sink down into your stance. The natural tendency is to rise as you raise the kicking leg; to straighten the supporting leg and to either rise up or lean to maintain your balance. Sinking slightly onto the supporting leg will help to counter this tendency.
Too true, but make sure you turn your knee to the center, or you will blow up your knee. :)
 
Most beginners feel the need to contort their body when picking up the knee; so, try picking up your heel, as you point the knee. It works on some people. :)

Yes, isolating parts of the body is difficult for me, but it is good practice to be aware. I am discovering that mind and body are inseparable in Karate. I think of many movements like the 'rubbing your head and patting your belly' saying. Being aware in mind and body in multiple places at once.

All good points above. In the beginning stages stances and movement are just as important as the techniques themselves.

You can check your stance by starting out with your feet shoulder-width apart. Stepping back with either foot and kneeling down, your knee should be in line with your front heel. Learning to transfer your weight to your front foot is crucial and is part of the principles that you are beginning to learn.

Also by allowing your body to rise up when you kick, you in fact, lose your route footing and is why you go off balance. I have studied Okinawa GoJu for many years and there is a saying that says, "battles are won and lost within the transition of our stances".

Generally speaking in Okinawa when a sensei corrects you he will do it only once and generally not take any questions during the class. It sounds harsh but basically he is telling you all you need to know to make it happen.

Good luck on your Okinawan Goju experience it is an awesome art, stick with it listen well and you will do fine.

While observing a class for very young students, I saw them kneel down exactly as you describe. I just knelt down to measure myself this way and the distance is perfect. I also measure by making sure my forward knee is covering my toes as I look down. My Sensei taught me to measure also with my feet, heel to toe.

I have a tendency to stand too narrow. I am still learning my own shoulder width while moving into different stances. Things I never took into account before beginning Karate.

Stances were the first thing my Sensei taught me. While my classmates practice Kata, he has me only move in stances. He tells me that everything I am learning now is the foundation and every movement has a purpose. I take this to heart and I am happy to focus on the stances.

I will stick with it! I love it. Thanks.

Personally, I think there's a lot of value in training these sorts of kicks in slow motion when trying to correct details of form.

To the OP - raising up while kicking is a pretty common problem for beginners. Without seeing you move, it's hard to pinpoint where exactly the issue is. It might be a problem with core strength, hip flexibility, balance, or just a matter of not having developed the correct habits yet. Practicing the kick in slow motion won't be easier (it'll probably be harder), but it may allow you to spot where exactly you are having problems.

Another possibility - get in your stance and have a friend hold a yardstick horizontally just above your head. Practice your kick and figure out what you have to do to avoid raising up and bumping your head on the yardstick. This sort of feedback is useful because it lets you know the moment you start to raise your level.

Training slowly is what I was doing before I made this thread, I wanted to get the form correct (especially the ball of the foot), but I felt I was straggling behind for testing day my focusing too much on details and neglecting the kick as a whole. This thread is helping me, and I am grateful for the insightful responses.

I believe my rising problem is a matter of poor habit and moving my body in a way that it has never had to do before. My Sensei corrects me whenever he spots this rising error (in kicking or sliding forward), and demonstrates for me how to do it properly. What he recommended once is that I be aware that my belt is always level, facing forward, never rising or falling. I like your yardstick idea!

It's going to sound counter-intuitive -- but as you kick, sink down into your stance. The natural tendency is to rise as you raise the kicking leg; to straighten the supporting leg and to either rise up or lean to maintain your balance. Sinking slightly onto the supporting leg will help to counter this tendency.

Practicing this a dozen or so times, and sinking very subtly, I did notice improvement. I did it a few more times and was even more subtle in my 'sink', and had better results. Your idea worked in practice and your insight about balance is insightful, I recognizing why I rise and this is very helpful. Thank you.


It is good to hear these things, and I have put your advices into real practice with improving results. Thanks to all of you. My Sensei is always available for questions and clarification, and he has repeatedly and patiently demonstrated correct movements. The problem is my slow learning - and that is okay, because I am here for the long run and I take inspiration from my patient Sensei, my classmates, and your postings.

P.S. Belt testing is today! 3 hours until I'm in the dojo. I am going to relax now and clear my mind. I know it will be all good, poor kicks or no.
 
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I passed my 10th Kyu and was given a yellow with a white stripe. I did not do everything right (to my eyes), but I understood what was asked of me and performed.

Out of curiosity, I do have some questions about your own dojo:

If you could not yet slide forward, would you have passed your first rank? My feet are stuck to the floor.

If you needed (many) reminders regarding movement? If you had to be shown a basic stance and be repositioned by the person testing you?

I nailed the almost all the stances except the one we discussed in this thread, the strikes, the blocks, but not the performances in action, which I have the least experience with. I have the belt, but I do not feel that I earned it. I don't know if all white belts are passed ahead this easily. I know from observing that Sensei is much sterner and less lenient on yellow-whites and definitely beyond that.
 
I passed my 10th Kyu and was given a yellow with a white stripe. I did not do everything right (to my eyes), but I understood what was asked of me and performed.

Out of curiosity, I do have some questions about your own dojo:

If you could not yet slide forward, would you have passed your first rank? My feet are stuck to the floor.

If you needed (many) reminders regarding movement? If you had to be shown a basic stance and be repositioned by the person testing you?

I nailed the stances, the strikes, the blocks, but not the performances in action, which I have the least experience with. I have the belt, but I do not feel that I earned it. I don't know if all white belts are passed ahead this easily. I know from observing that Sensei is much sterner and less lenient on yellow-whites and definitely beyond that.
Not that you weren't terrible, but awarding yellow belts to white belts, is just a way of saying, "keep it up!", and I would never openly question your instructor, on rank. He thinks you passed; so, you passed. Any objection, is a question of his judgment. :)
 
Not that you weren't terrible, but awarding yellow belts to white belts, is just a way of saying, "keep it up!", and I would never openly question your instructor, on rank. He thinks you passed; so, you passed. Any objection, is a question of his judgment. :)

He handed me the belt with sincerity and I bowed and thanked him. I know he believes I earned it. I have some self esteem issues and a lot of self doubt, one of the many reasons I wanted to join Karate. I will trust in my Sensei and put these thoughts behind me.

I will keep practicing. :)
 

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