Learn the technique first, then make it better.

Just yesterday, I had a really great Karate class. This was a class where I learned to do something the correct way after trying to do it for over five years. The solution to this was so incredibly simple but it took me a very long time and some really simple words from my Sensei to bring it out.

For the longest time, I have struggled to move from my hips. I have been told many times to tuck my tailbone or push the knot of my belt forward but for some reason, I was not able to do it. No matter how hard I tried or how large of an arch I had in my lower back, moving from my hips seemed to always evade me.

Here is where the light bulb turned on above my head. My Sensei had all of us get into a short front stance. From here he said tuck your tailbone under and do not let your hips face the floor, instead let your hips face forward. If the front stance is too long or longer than your flexibility will allow, you can see the hips pointing toward the floor not forward. Also, if the stance is too long for you, the tailbone just won’t tuck under and moving from your hips is impossible.

Once I got into a short stance, I could easily tuck my tailbone and move forward using my hips not my shoulders and chest. When I added a punch for my forward movement, it felt like my hands moved almost automatically. This also changed my timing for the better. When my front foot reached the end of it’s range of motion, my hand flew out and my entire stopped without any extra movements. There was no wiggle or adjustments, it just stopped and the movement was complete.

Here is the point that my Sensei made. Learn the technique first, then make it better. I had been fighting my body for over five years trying to do a low stance while tucking my tailbone and I never felt the correct technique. By raising my stance, I now have felt how the technique feels and now I can work on lowering my stance, increasing my flexibility and range of motion while keeping the correct technique.

It just goes to show, no matter how much you think you know or how long you have been doing it, there is always something that can be learned or improved.

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