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