I am physically unable to relax my upper body during kata. Should I give up Karate altogether?

Darren

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Power comes from body and not comes from arm. Freeze your body and only punch with your arm is a bad idea.

This is bad.



This is good.

You are correct, but when first starting is what I am referring to, in kenpo we do Star block, upward block,inward block, outward block, downward block, backward elbow strike, push down block, then using both hands and arms we do it again, somewhat different then the above mentioned block-strikes, a block is a strike and a strike is a block. All while standing in a horse stance, that is why I take a 15 pound weight and do Star block in a horse stance to build arm strength. This is all done while your a white belt after white belt we start using the hips and body with block-strike formula. Hope I have explained it well, if not please ask me to clarify it! Thank you and have a wonderful day!!!
 

Kung Fu Wang

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This is all done while your a white belt after white belt we start using the hips and body with block-strike formula.
Many MA styles take this approach. The concern is when a beginner has developed a habbit of "frozen body and only move arm", it may take some extra efford to remove that habit later on. Whether this extra beginner training stage is needed or not is strongly debatable. Some MA systems prefer their beginners to do right (such as body push/pull limb) even during the beginner training stage.
 
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Darren

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Many MA styles take this approach. The concern is when a beginner has developed a habbit of "frozen body and only move arm", it may take some extra efford to remove that habit later on. Whether this extra beginner training stage is needed or not is strongly debatable. Some MA systems prefer their beginners to do right (such as body push/pull limb) even during the beginner training stage.
There is a yellow belt form(ya start out at white belt yet your working for your yellow belt, no white belt forms) that comes to mind its called defecting hammer that teaches you to push backwards with your right front foot while doing a downward swinging block all at the same time defecting the kick then teaches you to spring forward on the left leg and foot using body mass then striking the opponents face with your elbow while checking with the left hand.
 

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There is a yellow belt form(ya start out at white belt yet your working for your yellow belt, no white belt forms) that comes to mind its called defecting hammer that teaches you to push backwards with your right front foot while doing a downward swinging block all at the same time defecting the kick then teaches you to spring forward on the left leg and foot using body mass then striking the opponents face with your elbow while checking with the left hand.
In advance training, you try to coordinate

- hand and foot.
- elbow and knee.
- shoulder and hip.

But if you start this training when you are beginner, you may progress much faster.

The funnist thing is if you have already reached to the advance level training (understand body push/pull limb), when you cross train a new MA style, you has to start from "freeze the body and only move the arm", you may feel frustrated about it. This had happened to me. This is why I'm interested in this discussion subject.
 

Darren

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In advance training, you try to coordinate

- hand and foot.
- elbow and knee.
- shoulder and hip.

But if you start this training when you are beginner, you may progress much faster.

The funnist thing is if you have already reached to the advance level training (understand body push/pull limb), when you cross train a new MA style, you has to start from "freeze the body and only move the arm", you may feel frustrated about it. This had happened to me. This is why I'm interested in this discussion subject.
It was 27 years ago that I was working on my third degree brown belt in kenpo, got back into it one year ago and a few days, started out again as a white belt which is fine with me cause I get to relearn and reinforce what I have already learned!!! Remember my first time sparring I froze up and got caught with a spinning hook kick right in my nose dropped to my knees like a ton of bricks so very feel ya(know what you are talking about) two things though very funny that people that have taken the arts before will get back into it, and I very agree that you can leave the arts but it really never leaves you!!! And keep giving good advice!!! Thank you!
 

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You are correct, but when first starting is what I am referring to, in kenpo we do Star block, upward block,inward block, outward block, downward block, backward elbow strike, push down block, then using both hands and arms we do it again, somewhat different then the above mentioned block-strikes, a block is a strike and a strike is a block. All while standing in a horse stance, that is why I take a 15 pound weight and do Star block in a horse stance to build arm strength. This is all done while your a white belt after white belt we start using the hips and body with block-strike formula. Hope I have explained it well, if not please ask me to clarify it! Thank you and have a wonderful day!!!
Strength training is a good thing, but needs to be done as a separate item and not coupled with martial arts training. Trying to kill two birds with one stone in that way is not a good approach because it will teach the student to tense up and inhibit the ability to relax. The topic of this thread being how to relax the upper body when doing karate.

As KFW has said, and I agree, learning to connect the full body when delivering technique is paramount in learning to relax the upper body. Most of the work and effort ought to be done with the legs; The arms and shoulders are relaxed and ride along, acting as the delivery component of the punch, for example.

Loading up the arms with weights while practicing karate techniques creates the habit of muscling though the technique and undermines the full-body connection. There are methods of practice that can build a very useful and functional strength in martial training, and that is the practice with realistically weighted weapons. Doing so prevents you from cheating on your technique and forces you to get your body connection correct. Trying to muscle through with heavy weapons, without body connection, just makes you tired very quickly. But if you get the body connection correct you avoid that quick exhaustion, and then the weight of the weapons will build a functional strength in a natural progression. This assumes, of course, that one has received quality training with the weapon.

But straight up strength training should not be coupled with martial technique practice.
 
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Darren

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Strength training is a good thing, but needs to be done as a separate item and not coupled with martial arts training. Trying to kill two birds with one stone in that way is not a good approach because it will teach the student to tense up and inhibit the ability to relax. The topic of this thread being how to relax the upper body when doing karate.

As KFW has said, and I agree, learning to connect the full body when delivering technique is paramount in learning to relax the upper body. Most of the work and effort ought to be done with the legs; The arms and shoulders are relaxed and ride along, acting as the delivery component of the punch, for example.

Loading up the arms with weights while practicing karate techniques creates the habit of muscling though the technique and undermines the full-body connection. There are methods of practice that can build a very useful and functional strength in martial training, and that is the practice with realistically weighted weapons. Doing so prevents you from cheating on your technique and forces you to get your body connection correct. Trying to muscle through with heavy weapons, without body connection, just makes you tired very quickly. But if you get the body connection correct you avoid that quick exhaustion, and then the weight of the weapons will build a functional strength in a natural progression. This assumes, of course, that one has received quality training with the weapon.

But straight up strength training should not be coupled with martial technique practice.
Is it ok to do it only with only Star block? Only do it once in three months 10 times only then put the weight away then do my punches as fast as I can for 20 times, get most of my strength training from taking care of my 130 pound 24/7 special needs son so stay away from strength training as much as I can cause of him.
 

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Is it ok to do it only with only Star block? Only do it once in three months 10 times only then put the weight away then do my punches as fast as I can for 20 times, get most of my strength training from taking care of my 130 pound 24/7 special needs son so stay away from strength training as much as I can cause of him.
What you are doing then is taking a martial drill and turning it into a strength training drill, which is not the same thing even though strength is typically an asset in martial training.

As a martial drill, there is more to three-star blocking than just swinging the arms. There is the engagement of the lower body, using the legs and feet to drive the torso into a rotation, which is what gives power to the swinging arms. But the arms and shoulders themselves should be quite relaxed. Not floppy like Gumby, but relaxed while strong. Using the exercise specifically to build arm and shoulder strength separates the movement from the work that should be done by the legs and torso. It undermines the very purpose of the exercise. On some level it can still be effective, but is unlikely to ever reach its true potential, and you will always be simply working harder to get there and you will miss the process of understanding the efficiency that the underlying method is meant to build, which should be foundational to the entire system, not just the exercise of three-star blocking.

If this all sounds foreign to you, I will say that in my opinion, the instruction found in a lot of schools tends to skip over these details because the teachers do not understand it or at least lack a systematic methodology for teaching it and helping their students develop that understanding. At some point in their lineage and transmission, that particular understanding was lacking and did not get adequately passed to the next generation. Once the knowledge gap has formed, it is very unlikely that people will simply figure it out for themselves without a good teacher who can step in and help them understand it.

Your comment about then doing punches as fast as you can further highlights the issue. I have never seen you train and I dont know your teacher so cannot directly comment on how you are doing things. But the comment makes me suspect that there are foundational issues you are missing. The point isnt to throw punches as fast as you can as an exercise. That same work that should be done by the legs and torso that I mentioned above, should be engaged in throwing punches as well. Speed comes later. First, you need to develop the foundation, understand the role that the legs and torso play when you throw a technique, which is something that the three-star drill is meant to emphasize and reinforce. Throw punches with that full-body connection, develop solid technique that is powerful without being tense and without muscling it. Later you can develop speed.
 

Tony Dismukes

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Strength training is a good thing, but needs to be done as a separate item and not coupled with martial arts training. Trying to kill two birds with one stone in that way is not a good approach because it will teach the student to tense up and inhibit the ability to relax. The topic of this thread being how to relax the upper body when doing karate.

As KFW has said, and I agree, learning to connect the full body when delivering technique is paramount in learning to relax the upper body. Most of the work and effort ought to be done with the legs; The arms and shoulders are relaxed and ride along, acting as the delivery component of the punch, for example.

Loading up the arms with weights while practicing karate techniques creates the habit of muscling though the technique and undermines the full-body connection. There are methods of practice that can build a very useful and functional strength in martial training, and that is the practice with realistically weighted weapons. Doing so prevents you from cheating on your technique and forces you to get your body connection correct. Trying to muscle through with heavy weapons, without body connection, just makes you tired very quickly. But if you get the body connection correct you avoid that quick exhaustion, and then the weight of the weapons will build a functional strength in a natural progression. This assumes, of course, that one has received quality training with the weapon.

But straight up strength training should not be coupled with martial technique practice.
There are forms of strength training which help reinforce proper movement patterns for martial arts. For example, the Turkish getup is excellent for BJJ practitioners because it not only builds strength but it also helps develop proper body alignment and coordination for certain fundamental movements we use a lot. Likewise, kettlebell swings help teach correct power generation for certain types of takedowns.

It's also possible to devise drills for a martial arts class which build functional strength and technique at the same time. (Honestly, I think technique is a big part of functional strength.) For example, I might pair up students and have one partner start on their knees inside the other partners closed guard. The drill is for the top student to come up to standing while the bottom student continues holding on with their legs. Then once the top student is standing, the bottom student has to do a sit up, supporting themself with their legs around their partners waist. Then the top student has to lower themself (with control) back to a kneeling position. It's a drill which gets tiring pretty quickly, but it builds proper technique as much as it does strength.

That said, I mostly don't focus on strength training during the classes I teach, because it takes enough time and work getting students to move as efficiently as possible and not waste their strength unnecessarily. I have encountered coaches who take the approach of making workouts so physically demanding that you run out of strength to waste halfway through and you have to start discovering more efficient ways to move and generate power. It does seem to work, but a) it usually requires a longer workout time and b) it's harder to implement in a class with students who have a wide range of physical capacity. The coaches who took this approach were mostly working with professional and amateur fighters. I was a relatively fit hobbyist and I just barely made it through the training sessions. A brand new with no athletic background would probably have just collapsed halfway through and never come back.
 

Flying Crane

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There are forms of strength training which help reinforce proper movement patterns for martial arts. For example, the Turkish getup is excellent for BJJ practitioners because it not only builds strength but it also helps develop proper body alignment and coordination for certain fundamental movements we use a lot. Likewise, kettlebell swings help teach correct power generation for certain types of takedowns.

It's also possible to devise drills for a martial arts class which build functional strength and technique at the same time. (Honestly, I think technique is a big part of functional strength.) For example, I might pair up students and have one partner start on their knees inside the other partners closed guard. The drill is for the top student to come up to standing while the bottom student continues holding on with their legs. Then once the top student is standing, the bottom student has to do a sit up, supporting themself with their legs around their partners waist. Then the top student has to lower themself (with control) back to a kneeling position. It's a drill which gets tiring pretty quickly, but it builds proper technique as much as it does strength.

That said, I mostly don't focus on strength training during the classes I teach, because it takes enough time and work getting students to move as efficiently as possible and not waste their strength unnecessarily. I have encountered coaches who take the approach of making workouts so physically demanding that you run out of strength to waste halfway through and you have to start discovering more efficient ways to move and generate power. It does seem to work, but a) it usually requires a longer workout time and b) it's harder to implement in a class with students who have a wide range of physical capacity. The coaches who took this approach were mostly working with professional and amateur fighters. I was a relatively fit hobbyist and I just barely made it through the training sessions. A brand new with no athletic background would probably have just collapsed halfway through and never come back.
I think the bottom line is that proper training should be building appropriate strength that is useful within the context of the martial art, usually without the need to add a bunch of weights in the process. In some ways, small amounts of weight can be used effectively as an enhancement.

I wont speak to the drills and exercises found in grappling methods, as I simply have no expertise in that realm. What the previous poster was describing seemed to me to illustrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of the drill he was doing, and how to go about it in an effective way. Where weights can be effectively added to the training process should, in my opinion, come later, after a solid understanding of the methodology is in place. Then, he would be in a position to recognize what are good decisions and bad decisions if he considers adding the weights. With this kind of drill it is my opinion that it is very easy to overdo the weight and destroy the benefits that the drill is meant to create.
 

Darren

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What you are doing then is taking a martial drill and turning it into a strength training drill, which is not the same thing even though strength is typically an asset in martial training.

As a martial drill, there is more to three-star blocking than just swinging the arms. There is the engagement of the lower body, using the legs and feet to drive the torso into a rotation, which is what gives power to the swinging arms. But the arms and shoulders themselves should be quite relaxed. Not floppy like Gumby, but relaxed while strong. Using the exercise specifically to build arm and shoulder strength separates the movement from the work that should be done by the legs and torso. It undermines the very purpose of the exercise. On some level it can still be effective, but is unlikely to ever reach its true potential, and you will always be simply working harder to get there and you will miss the process of understanding the efficiency that the underlying method is meant to build, which should be foundational to the entire system, not just the exercise of three-star blocking.

If this all sounds foreign to you, I will say that in my opinion, the instruction found in a lot of schools tends to skip over these details because the teachers do not understand it or at least lack a systematic methodology for teaching it and helping their students develop that understanding. At some point in their lineage and transmission, that particular understanding was lacking and did not get adequately passed to the next generation. Once the knowledge gap has formed, it is very unlikely that people will simply figure it out for themselves without a good teacher who can step in and help them understand it.

Your comment about then doing punches as fast as you can further highlights the issue. I have never seen you train and I dont know your teacher so cannot directly comment on how you are doing things. But the comment makes me suspect that there are foundational issues you are missing. The point isnt to throw punches as fast as you can as an exercise. That same work that should be done by the legs and torso that I mentioned above, should be engaged in throwing punches as well. Speed comes later. First, you need to develop the foundation, understand the role that the legs and torso play when you throw a technique, which is something that the three-star drill is meant to emphasize and reinforce. Throw punches with that full-body connection, develop solid technique that is powerful without being tense and without muscling it. Later you can develop speed.
Thank you! Love knowledge!! I concur on using the hips and legs in addition to the punchs!!!
 

Darren

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Thank you! Love knowledge!! I concur on using the hips and legs in addition to the punchs!!!
Looked up the three Star block and know what you mean one cant use weights with that!! But love the flow of it just excellent!!! If I may ask what does it mean?
 

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Looked up the three Star block and know what you mean one cant use weights with that!! But love the flow of it just excellent!!! If I may ask what does it mean?
I am assuming this question is directed to me? If so, I am not sure I understand what you are asking, what does it mean?

And in hindsight, I realize you were making reference to something different in kenpo, not the same thing as three star block. I need to acknowledge that, but at the same time feel that my comments are still appropriate. The drill is meant to develop clean technique which should still have connection to the legs and foundation. Adding weights to it has a real danger, in my opinion, of causing you to actually separate the movement of the arms from the legs, and turn it into an arms-only movement that comes to rely overly-much on muscular strength. Once you develop the targeted skill, then perhaps you could very gradually add small amounts of weight, so long as you are very careful to not create that separation and end up undermining the whole concept. I think it could be very easy to overdo the weights and make that mistake.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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three Star block
The "upward block" should be llike to raise a curtain and you move under it. The important is your body move in under the curtain. Since it takes very little effort to raise that curtain, to use weight to train blocking has no meaning.

When you do "inward/outward block", you should rotate your body and "freeze" your arm (the relationship between your arm and your body remain unchange). This way, even your arm may miss to block a punch, your body has already moved out of the way.

Can you do the following moves by putting your arms behind your back and just let your body to do the job - body raise, body sink, rotate to the left, rotate to the right, ...? You will then understand the term "body method" (You can only see body movement. You don't see arm movement).

 
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Darren

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I am assuming this question is directed to me? If so, I am not sure I understand what you are asking, what does it mean?

And in hindsight, I realize you were making reference to something different in kenpo, not the same thing as three star block. I need to acknowledge that, but at the same time feel that my comments are still appropriate. The drill is meant to develop clean technique which should still have connection to the legs and foundation. Adding weights to it has a real danger, in my opinion, of causing you to actually separate the movement of the arms from the legs, and turn it into an arms-only movement that comes to rely overly-much on muscular strength. Once you develop the targeted skill, then perhaps you could very gradually add small amounts of weight, so long as you are very careful to not create that separation and end up undermining the whole concept. I think it could be very easy to overdo the weights and make that mistake.
Yes sir, your comments are appropriate from the question I asked I can see I have a long way to go in asking questions intelligently in regards to the martial arts thank you for that! And in the beginning stage it is not at all recommended to use weights till one finds the flow and really have the drill down as you have said and using weights you are correct it can hurt the flow of the drill as your arms are tensed up automatically if used to much and to often. If I may ask again what style of the arts uses the three star block? As I can then read and study about it. Thank you.
 

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Yes sir, your comments are appropriate from the question I asked I can see I have a long way to go in asking questions intelligently in regards to the martial arts thank you for that! And in the beginning stage it is not at all recommended to use weights till one finds the flow and really have the drill down as you have said and using weights you are correct it can hurt the flow of the drill as your arms are tensed up automatically if used to much and to often. If I may ask again what style of the arts uses the three star block? As I can then read and study about it. Thank you.
Three-star block is common in many of the southern Chinese long-arm systems like Hung Ga, Choy Lay Fut, Tibetan White Crane, I suspect Jow Ga as well. It is a two-person drill used to condition the forearms for impact, as well as full-body connection.

Here is an example: https://m.facebook.com/OmahaKungFu/...ge-and-working-on-three-of-/1155535127989505/
 

Darren

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Three-star block is common in many of the southern Chinese long-arm systems like Hung Ga, Choy Lay Fut, Tibetan White Crane, I suspect Jow Ga as well. It is a two-person drill used to condition the forearms for impact, as well as full-body connection.

Here is an example: https://m.facebook.com/OmahaKungFu/...ge-and-working-on-three-of-/1155535127989505/
Thank you sir! Love the way the hips,body,legs,feet rotate together to produce power!! And a very good way to condition the forearms for impact!!! Way back when in 1993 my dojo had a Chinese wooden dummy that I used to do the same, train by myself which gives me the idea I can train using my door frames to do the same. Thank you!!
 

Darren

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Three-star block is common in many of the southern Chinese long-arm systems like Hung Ga, Choy Lay Fut, Tibetan White Crane, I suspect Jow Ga as well. It is a two-person drill used to condition the forearms for impact, as well as full-body connection.

Here is an example: https://m.facebook.com/OmahaKungFu/...ge-and-working-on-three-of-/1155535127989505/
And the way you described the the three arm block and what it does is what I meant when I said what does it mean.
 
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