The Famous 5 Hip Twist Exercises of Luca Valdesi

Remember when I went to that Luca Valdesi camp in Finland earlier this year?

If you don’t, then here it is. And here’s a video I uploaded later.

As a quick reminder; it was awesome, especially if you are interested in the more physical and technical part of modern Karate. Which I am, since I’m interested in every part of Karate. Why shouldn’t you be?

Anyway, during this camp there were many interesting Shotokan-specific exercises taught by signore Valdesi, and one of my favorites was the “5 ways of twisting the hips for generating power”. Or, well, thats just what I personally call it, Luca himself probably calls it “prosciutto del succo di frutta” or something equally Italian and delicious.

Whatever you call it, it’s an exercise that teaches you a lot.

No doubt.

Although I’m by no means an expert on this exercise myself (or in Karate in general for that matter…) I believe everyone has something to gain from practising the “5 ways of twisting the hips”; whether you are an elite Shotokan tournament semi-god or a bona fide Karate couch potato. Actually, you don’t even have to be a Karate practitioner to take advantage of the lessons in this exercise.

Write or video about the hip rotation exercises please? Pritty please? ::)

– “Igor” (commenting on the original article)

So, by popular demand, today I thought I’d share a quick walk-through of this exercise with you guys.

I even made a (crappy) video, believe it or not!

Are you ready?

Let’s see if I remember it then.

“The 5 Basic Ways of Twisting the Hips in Karate”

0. Preparation

To begin with, this whole exercise is to be performed from an excruciatingly deep zenkutsu dachi (subject to personal interpretation…) with the rear arm outstretched in front. This is a “gyaku-zuki yoi” kamae. Straight back, shoulders down, elbows in, legs firm but flexible, eyes to the front, yadda yadda and his mom.

Okay? Prepared?

Here’s a video then. Very brief explanations below.

Let’s start with #1 then.

#1: Half Small Twist – Ni-ren-zuki

From the gyaku-zuki yoi (preparatory reverse punch -kamae), quickly do a left punch and a right punch.

That’s all.

Your hips twist right/left along with your left/right punch, giving you more power. Legs remain stationary.

This is the smallest (half twist) and quickest of the hip’s lateral motions.

#2: Full Small Twist – Tateshuto-uke/Gyaku-zuki

After having finished the previous ni-ren-zuki, now perform a slightly bigger hip twist, as you bang out a left tate (vertical) shuto uchi (knife hand) in front (a typical Shotokan move), and pull your right hand (hikite) strongly back. At this point you are twisting your hips maximally to the right, and your rear knee might start to bend a little, since this is not a half twist (as in #1), but a full twist.

Okay, hip maximally twisted to the back?

Good.

Now shoot a big gyaku-zuki to the front as you twist your hips to the front again.

And that concludes #2.

#3: Half Big Twist – Gedan-uke/Gyaku-zuki

Here things start to change a bit…

Since you have previously already twisted your hips maximally (while remaining stationary), you will now need to shift your back leg into a shiko dachi in order to increase the range of motion (ROM) of your hip twist. In other words, the momentum carries over to your right (rear) leg which twists outwards.

As you transition into shikodachi, only your right (rear) half of your body should move. Front half of your body remains still.

Do a gedan-uke, then twist back into a full zenkutsu-dachi for the gyaku-zuki.

#4: Full Big Twist – Gedan-uke/Gyaku-zuki

Now, if we want to twist our hips even more, how do we do that?

Well, we can continue the flow of the movement by twisting not only the back leg, but the front leg too, which brings us to an “Okinawa kokutsu dachi” as Valdesi himself calls it. Your mileage may vary.

Do that with a gedan-uke (gedan barai), and then twist back to the front for a gyaku-zuki as always.

Which takes us to the last exercise, #5:

#5: Move back – Shuto-uke/Gyaku-zuki

Now, since we have already twisted our hips maximum already (#1 and #2 stationary), then continued the motion through our legs and feet too (#3 and #4), our last option is to move our whole body back.

So, move back into a nekoashi dachi (this was originally a kokutsu dachi, Shotokan-style), perform a shuto-uke, and then move your whole bodyweight to the front as you drive in a clean gyaku-zuki as finisher.

And you’re done.

Bravissimo!

Finito.

16 Comments

  • Thanks - very useful actually breaking apart use of the hips in different techniques :)Also, presuming that that's you in the video, you're execution of the techniques is *crazily* crisp! I would definitely not want to be on the receiving end of them!
  • Jesper
    The Man himself on youtube! Nice "subtle" flash of your shirt ;)
  • Chip Quimby
    Nice post, Jesse! Thank you. This is a great drill to help teach the progression of a rotational power source. I teach Okinawan Uechi-Ryu, and I love to experiment with a lot of these mechanical nuances from Shiko-dachi. Net net - I think it give students a much deeper understanding of how to use their body to create power.
  • jamonco
    Nice technique man!! That was you...right..?
  • Oliver
    To those who think that it's Jesse in the video, sorry to disappoint you guys but... Jesse is in fact much more handsome and muscular (quite ripped, actually) and he would never wear one of those new-agey flower-power shirts in the video (he hates the environment). Also, you know what they say about the size of men's feet right? Well, his feet needs to be much larger if that theory is to hold true.
    • jamonco
      Then, who is that??
    • Tommy
      Sir, I call your bluff!
    • euey
      LOL. nice, oliver. i didn't think he'd make a video of himself. self-conscious much, jess? jk. any plans to come to the US any time soon? i got excited a couple summers back when you informed me you might train in my neck of the woods. heartbreaker...
      • Yeah... nice "Oliver"... hehehe.... nice. By the way, there is a chance I'm coming to your general area for Karate in april, I'll let you know! :)
        • euey
          ozawa? us open?
          • US Open!
  • Igor
    Thanks! Now to download and slowmotion it... ::) P.S. Kudos on the t - shirt, Im an ecology student and activist ::D P. S. the third step can also be done through Tsuken no kon (in case someone gets bored ::) ) or Chintei (shotokan version ::) ).
  • Hi Jesse, nice explanation for these fundamental exercises. The "Hip twist" is the "core" of karate, and every karateka that wants to shoot effective techniques must know and train this. This is important for both agonistic and traditional practitioners. A strong Gyaku-Tsuki, given with the thrust of the hip is good during a katà tournament, is excellent in a kumite match... but is vital in a street (defense) fighting...P.S. In Italian "prosciutto del succo di frutta" means "ham of the fruit juice" :-D hahahah it doesn't exist, but it makes me laugh a lot!!! BRAVISSIMO!!!!
  • Tintin
    good post thankyou.An interesting video I found on youtube is about a double hip rotation. Which kind of makes sense, but I haven't managed to do it without really thinking about it!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRqfYwhsQdQ
  • Bart
    Very nice hip insights! I'll do them when training at home for sure!
  • Iain McMullen
    This is going to be part of my lesson for tomorrow night!

Leave a comment