Shotokan Karateka, and perhaps most styles, are often obsessed, even fixated, with ‘power’, and the magic word called ‘Kime’.
Firstly we need to fully comprehend the concept and science of ‘Kime’; but I am often left wondering if we do really understand its real relevance?
Is ‘Kime’ just an ideology?
Is it a creation of Nakayama Masatoshi’s halcyon days of the JKA?
‘Kime’ is often seen as the full body and muscular transaction at one instant of time, unifying the mind and the body at the exact moment of completion of a technique.
Since most Shotokan Kihon, Kata, and Kumite make ‘Kime’ into the thin air (here we can read ‘Sun Dome’) is it real?
Does it differ to the necessity of ‘connection’ and real contact? Must we actually hit an opponent to really realise the real idea of ’Kime’?
Many instructors in Karate Dojo use the English language term ‘focus’. Yet we see, especially in more modern Kata tournaments, that there is a prevalence of looking as though they use ‘Kime’ as a moment of ‘dramatic exaggeration’ to emphasis a point in their ‘kata’; i.e., ‘the photo moment!’. “Quick, get it now, I am in the perfect position!”
If we think of ‘Kime’ as a moment of ‘unity of technique and body’ (we can perhaps read Ki Ken Tai Ichi), it makes sense. But the word ‘focus’ seems to often invoke a moment where the Karateka ‘freezes with power at the end movement, describing ‘decisiveness’.
The Japanese verb Kimeru (決める) essentially means to ‘decide’. The web page jlearn.net
gives possible meanings of Kimeru as:
- to decide,
- to choose,
- to determine,
- to make up one’s mind,
- to resolve,
- to set one’s heart on,
- to settle, to arrange,
- to clinch (a victory),
- to decide (the outcome of a match)
All can these readily fit the standard Shotokan interpretation of ‘Kime’.
Some Karateka will perform ‘focus’ that effective becomes a totally dead and exaggerated stop; others will have a more concise, sharper, finite moment of focus that allows a ‘living stop’- capable of moving immediately into another movement, yet with immense power at the moment of impact.
We know that ‘Kime’ can only occur if the stances ‘Tachi-kata’, foot work “Unsoku, and correct use of both internal and external forces allow the correct ‘downward pressure into the ground’ (i.e., lower of the gravity and downward compression of the stomach muscles) augmented by the ‘sharp contraction of the Musculo-skeletal system’ in an instant.
Newtons 2nd Law states ‘the net force on an object is equal to the mass of the object multiplied by the acceleration of the object. It also states ‘force equals mass times acceleration’.
Therefore, our moment of ‘Kime’ or ‘focus’ once achieved, must see/feel all the elements in the waza ‘peak’ and achieve ‘maximum speed/acceleration/momentum’ at the ‘instant of impact’.
It is necessary to augment maximum acceleration/speed with sharp ‘contraction of the muscles’, and breath control, without shortening or change in distance between its origin and insertion into the target. Trying to apply focus too soon will slow down the technique at the last instant, and that deceleration will cause a loss of the power.
Traditionally we are taught that at the moment of ‘Kime’ there should be no extraneous movement, else we lose the line of energy that the technique intended to create.
We need to try and know the difference between a dead stop and a living stop. The Latter allows the explosive technique to immediately flow to another. The first is a stand-alone technique that need a restart to continue any Renzoku Kogeki Waza (combination technique).
Looking at Combinations it is evident that there must be ‘Kime’ but equally rhythm, we need to find an amalgamation of correct waza, acceleration, power, relaxation, and the ability to stop in an instant, but triggers are firing to set a follow up technique.
Of course all this must be augmented with correct ‘Kokyu’ (breath control).
As an exercise try to perform a ‘chapter’ of a kata in one breath. Is it possible? Can you be decisive and sharp? Can you apply the concept of ‘Jo Ha Kyu’ into that flow, and move from one ‘Kime’ point to another seamlessly?