42 Secrets I Learned From The World’s Greatest Kata Coach


For the 597th time in a row, after hours of grueling kata practice, sensei Inoue Yoshimi commands me to open my mouth again.

The Seishin gi feels amazing.

“Yes sensei!”

I feel like a retarded gold fish.

Apparently, I can’t execute snappy and smooth Karate techniques with my mouth closed.

Needless to say, that’s just one of the hundreds of straightforward insights I had recently, when I got the unique opportunity to train privately with the world’s greatest kata coach alive.

Soke Inoue Yoshimi.

I’ve written about sensei Inoue before.

His list of famous students is pretty epic:

Rika Usami, Atsuko Wakai, Ryoki Abe, Antonio Diaz, Mie Nakayama, Nao Morooka, Hisami Yokoyama, the Hasegawa brothers…

He’s literally a kata champion machine.

Nevertheless, hubris doesn’t exist in Inoue’s vocab. He remains very mortal.

No fancy words. No spiritual claims.

Just raw skill.

In fact, at 68 years young, he still shows every single technique himself!

You can win these handwritten notes by Inoue Yoshimi at the end of this article.

Hour after hour.

Sharp, fast and über snappy.


What’s his *secret*?


Are you kidding me?

He has like a THOUSAND!

And today I just HAD to share some of those with you, my dear Karate Nerd™.

Sounds good?

Great. So let me present a list of 42 things I learned from training with soke Inoue Yoshimi recently, the world’s greatest kata coach.

Check it out:

1. Open your mouth. If your mouth is closed, your jaw tightens up, your shoulders get stiff and your techniques will become tense. So open your mouth. This allows air to flow freely to/from your lungs – making your techniques relaxed, natural and powerful.

2. Train less. Improve more. Although Inoue’s speciality is elite training for world-class performance, he is quick to point out that excessive Karate training is bad for your health. Two hours a class, three days a week is his recommendation for the optimal training dose.

3. Use your posterior chain. Humans have a big brain, right? We’re smart. But when it comes to fighting, we are physically weaker than many animals! Dogs, cats, ants, horses, rats… they are stronger, more agile, much faster and more athletic than a human will ever be. So let’s use our smart brain to study animals: Does a horse have abs? Nope. Does a dog have huge biceps or pecs? Nope. So why do humans insist on training these “useless” show-off muscles all the time? Animals have incredibly strong posterior chains (muscles on your back, hamstrings, glutes, triceps, lats etc.). Focus on those instead. That’s where beastlike power comes from.

4. “Karate is 99% feeling.” Many people train hard, get sweaty and go home happy. That’s great! But, according to Inoue sensei, they never really improve. To improve you need to use feelings, spirit and imagination in your training. 99% of improving is about connecting your body to your brain. Tap into your senses!

5. Use your heels. Turn on your heels. Step from your heels. Always keep your weight above your heels. This keeps your shoulders relaxed and your knees unlocked, which allows for snappy and quick movements.

6. “Smile!” When Inoue sensei thinks you are tense, he never says “relax!“. Instead, he says “smile!” – which is a psychological trick to make you relax. It’s hard to be tense when you’re smiling! Plus, you perform better when you’re happy.

7. Hips level to the floor at all times. Except in rare instances in some kata (Empi, Kururunfa). Why? Because it’s natural. That’s how we walk.

8. As you get older, work with nature – not against it. Inoue is 68 years and weighs 58 kilograms. Anybody can beat him in arm wrestling. But when it comes to Karate, it’s not just about size, strength or age. The older you get, the more wisdom, technique, feeling and experience you need to apply. Your body weakens as you get older, but other skills take over. It’s a natural progression. Don’t fight nature – take advantage of it.

9. Imagine your body is a car. Your center, called “tanden” in Japanese, is the engine. Your hands and feet are just wheels. The steering wheel is in your head.

10. Don’t lift your knee for kicking. That’s for beginners. Instead, focus on activating the powerful muscles of your ass.

11. Don’t relax your knees when stepping or turning. That’s for beginners. Instead, relax your hips. Imagine unhinging the hip joint, letting your legs drop from the hip socket and then move/step/turn. This is faster than simply relaxing your knees (which will automatically tense your quadriceps = you become slow).

12. There are two kinds of Karate: #1. Karate for martial arts & self defense. #2. Karate for competition. The best way to improve both is by focusing on how to use the body efficiently. This is what excites Inoue sensei. No matter who you are, you can always improve body mechanics and principles of efficient movement.

13. When executing double techniques (with both hands), don’t twist your hips. Instead, act like a spring or wave. This is how you generate energy when using both hands simultaneously.

14. Your shoulder should always be in front of your chest. Never parallel to it. The same goes for your hikite arm!

15. Use impact tools when in doubt of technique. When you’re wondering about the most efficient way to execute a technique (i.e. how to move your legs with your arms), use a boxing bag or makiwara or kicking pad and experiment. Which one is more powerful? Try. We compared popular tournament kata like Anan, Heiku and Paiku, and discussed how some Okinawan masters teach jumping, skipping and stomping footwork in these kata – then tried different variations of these techniques against a boxing bag. Find the most effective way and use that.

16. Why do we step forward with blocks in many kata? If you consider the practical application (bunkai), it’s pretty unsmart to meet force with force, right? Well, the secret is that a block’s “preparatory move” is actually the real block. This makes way for you to then step forward with what looks like the “block” – but could actually be an attack, takedown or joint manipulation.

17. Depth over breadth. Plunge into the detailed mystery of the micro in order to understand the macro. Improving one small thing will improve many things.

18. In zenkutsu dachi (front stance), your weight should be on the back leg – not your front leg. The back leg should be like bamboo; strong but flexible. (Not stiff like a stick). Relax your front leg. It only acts as support. Your back leg controls the action and power.

19. To do great arm techniques, forget your arms. Focus on your core instead. Just whip your center. Seriously. Don’t care about your arms. Ignore them. Think about your core instead, and your arms will fly out automagically. It’s all about initiating the whip action.

20. Relax your pectoral muscles. If you tense your chest muscles when you punch, your collar bones will lock down. This tightens your shoulder’s connection to the arm, and makes it impossible to have relaxed and snappy techniques. Skip chest day at the gym, bro. Relax your pecs. Flow freely.

21. Your Karate style doesn’t matter. As long as you have one head, two legs and two arms, human body mechanics and universal principles of efficient movement are the same across all styles.

22. If you have difficulties with balance, forget balance. Focus on speed instead. Speed, speed, speed! Faster, faster, faster! Your body is smarter than you think, and will instinctively keep you balanced in hard movements. But NOT if you keep thinking about it. So focus on speed. Balance will take care of itself.

23. 90/10 weight distribution in neko ashi dachi (cat stance). Weight on your back heel. You should be able to lift your front leg. Rear foot 30 degrees out.

24. Always ask (how & why). When soke Inoue was young, he was never allowed to question anything in the dojo. Today, he encourages questioning like crazy. The secret to staying motivated, he believes, is to continuously ask questions. Specifically – how & why. If you don’t know, you don’t improve!

25. 0,2 seconds. That’s how fast your techniques should be. It’s a blink. 0,3 secs if you’re a slow blinker.

26. It’s okay to learn kata patterns/directions from a video. But only a sensei can teach you how to perform it.

27.  “In my dojo, we start practice 9 in the morning and finish 11 in the evening. Sometimes we forget food.” (Wait… hold on. You forget WHAT?!)

28. People think kata is a set of poses, i.e A, B, C, D. But that’s wrong. Kata is not A, B, C or D – it’s how you get from A to B to C to D. Therefore; a good sensei, coach or referee should always look for the movement between techniques, not just the finishing pose. That’s what separates good kata from bad.

29. Expand. Never contract or squeeze your techniques. Funnily enough, this is what most people do and call “kime”. But according to Inoue, you should do the exact opposite. Imagine kicking a soccer ball or football. You don’t tense up at the moment of impact, do you? Of course not. The ball won’t fly anywhere. The same goes for hitting a baseball or golf ball. At the end of your movement, you expand to really get the ball flying, right? So do the same with your Karate techniques. Instead of locking down and tensing your body at the moment of impact, expand your movement and let it carry on through. No contraction. Just expansion.

30. When you do side kicks (yoko geri), shape your foot like a front kick (mae geri). All your toes should be bent up, and the point of impact should not be the blade of the foot, but the side of the heel.

31. When you slide/step and punch, stop a millisecond before you punch. This allows your movement energy to transfer to your arm. Imagine driving a car and crashing: The car stops abruptly (your body), but the passenger keeps flying out the window (your arm). So don’t punch at the same time as you move. But don’t punch too late either. This timing is super important and hard.

32. There are actually three points of pivot. Heel, middle of foot and ball of the foot. Which part should you use? Mostly the heel (see point 5).

33. When you move forward in cat stance (neko ashi dachi), rotate on the center of your foot. Not your heel. Not your toes. But the center of your foot. This is the correct way for neko ashi dachi. (It’s curious facts like these we’ll have to explain twice when the aliens land.)

34. The One Leg Principle. You never use both legs equally. One leg is always the “power leg”. If you can figure out which leg is the power leg in every technique, you’ll instantly boost your power. This is awesome. For instance, if you do a right low block (gedan uke/barai) in a shiko dachi/kiba dachi, your left leg is the power leg. That’s where all your power should be. Your right leg should just act as support.

35. Stances are hard for Westerners, because our legs are so long. That’s why kata is easier for Japanese people. But kumite is easier for Westerners, because “Japanese people can’t kick as high”.

36. Relaxed scapula = snappy technique. Your shoulder blade is the base of your arm, and it needs to be loose. If you have stiff shoulders, Inoue sensei recommends that you do exercises for shoulder mobility to the back, not just front/up/sides.

37. “Martial arts support gravity. They have friendship.” To move faster, cooperate with gravity. Let it literally pull you into each stance.

38. When turning, drop 4-5 cm. As your body drops, turn around and catch it in the next stance. It’s all about quickly unlocking and locking your joints.

39. Feeling sluggish? Blame your sensei. If a sensei counts with a lame voice (“ichi, ni, san…”), it’s hard to do your best techniques. A sensei should count with great passion (“ICHI, NI, SAN!”) in order to inspire and encourage everyone to give their utmost. Coincidentally, Luca Valdesi once told me the same.

40. Beginners punch with the hand. Experts punch with shoulder blade. Masters punch with the core.

41. You can make excuses, or you can make progress. You can’t make both.

42. Open your mouth. Again.

The end.


Time for a mini-contest:

Win the handwritten “secret notes” of Inoue Yoshimi

  • Step 1: Choose ONE of the above points from Inoue sensei.
  • Step 2: Leave a comment below and tell me exactly WHY & HOW you will use that point to IMPROVE your Karate.
  • Step 3: Smile! ; -)

I will personally choose a winner and send YOU the huge notes of soke Inoue Yoshimi.

Thanks for reading.

Good luck!


Disclaimer: The information presented in this article was solely based on my own interpretation from training with sensei Inoue and should not be viewed as an official representation of Japan Karate-do Inoue-ha Shito-ryu Keishin-kai or soke Inoue Yoshimi.


  • Andrew
    I suppose I'll be opening my mouth during kata. When I last tested, Sensei told me I needed to learn to loosen up; I noticed later that during kata, my body bricks up and I lose speed and, consequently, all power. (It's all the Naha-te style training.:)) Hopefully, this will improve my kata quite a bit. I do have a question, though: You indicate that your mouth supposed to be open through the entire kata. If this is the case, are you you still supposed to breath in through the nose? Thank you, Jesse-san! Great post!
    • Andrew-san, thanks for chiming in! Yes, you are supposed to breath through both your nose and mouth.
      • Andrew
        One more question: How open should your mouth be? Wide open, or more subtle? Or does it change throughout?
        • Subtle. Like when you naturally relax your face.
          • Andrew
            Aragato gozaimasu, Jesse-san! Appreciate your help!
  • Pete
    #6, I try to be so intense with Kata. My wife calls it my karate face. I lock my jaw, pull my brow down. I get intense. I'm going to try the smile. See how it improves and change my shoulders and neck. Also how it effects my breathing. Breathing through just my nose isn't enough o2 and I'm out of breath by the end. I don't know why I do it. With all my basics, kumite, ect, I breath properly. But Kata I change my game... Time to really change my game. Open the mouth and smile. Thanks Jesse-San!
  • MVDB
    Dear Sensei Jesse-san First of all many thanks for the sharing of your inspiration and gained-experiences. After I read your article, I took the time to think through which one I was going to use, but then I thought: "He wouldn't have written 42 if there was only one that was very important". So I decided I'll be going through a 21-week transformation, using 2 techniques I will pay attention to each Karate-week. Reminding me everyday what to do, and use them in daily life. I will start today, and I will use Nr.1 opening your mouth - focussing on relaxing the whole body with the jaw as a reminder, and Nr.2 train less - improve more: i.e. less is more, a balance between Yin - Yang, a balance between working out, but also understanding the importance of working IN --> meditating upon, letting sink through, restore and recollect energy. Again, so many thanks for the insights! Peace! Michael
    • Thinking outside the box + flattery + growth mindset = winning combination! Inoue's handwritten notes will be in the mail ;) Thanks!
      • MVDB
        Wow! Sensei Jesse-san Thank you, thank you! :) I also want you to know that thanks to you, I contacted Miguel da Luz and went to train with sensei Kinjo Masakazu, and we shared some Uechi-guza in his house (couple of times!) :) So, I feel since I've opened up to the world of Karate, things only start getting more beautiful and beautiful. Thanks for inspiring and thanks for showing us the way! I salute thee! BTW I applied the "open mouth" and "smile" to my exam, and passed! ;)
      • Michael
        Dear Sensei, I am still waiting the handwritten notes: "Inoue’s handwritten notes will be in the mail ;)" Do you need my address? :) I salute thee!
        • Michael-san, I e-mailed you but never got a response. Yes, send me your address to get your prize! :)
          • Michael
            There arrived some big mail today from Stockholm. Trying to find out, where this mysterious package came from, I opened it, and it just totally made my entire WEEK!!! IF NOT MONTH :D! Jesse-San, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, I sincerely hope we can meet one day so I can thank you in person! Hope everything is well! Michael
  • 29 expand....makes perfect sense, and with smile , will help me notch one step up Awesome article ...thank you
  • Hello Jesse San. I like number 2. Constant training make you sicken of what you are doing. Always have been training a classic 3 day 1 and a half hour schedule. That is the best. Do not spend hours of useless drills because by the time of you get to the point you are already tired. 20 min warm up pick 2 to 3 techniques and drill them at your best. At the end connect them in the kata. I love all this points. Great senseis not only know who to do but also can EXPLAIN how to do. Love your articles. Domo ariato!!! OSS!
  • Dene
    Thanks for that share! I will be using many of the tips, but the one that ought to drive improvement the most is for me to relax my shoulders - drop the scapulae. I'm always being told my shoulders are up too high! I think that will work well in combination with the other techniques you've described to relax and therefore increase speed. We'll see how well I do with getting those techniques down to 0.2 seconds! Great to hear these excellent tips all together!
  • Nilsosu
    Nice post, now we have a total of 93 ways to practise kata! One question though about #5, does it not contradict what Maurino said about the heel turn being wrong and actually harmful to you?
  • JimP
    #18 surprised me. I'll try that in some forms later.
  • Great article. I will work on points 2 & 3. I am over-training some of my kata, to the point the are losing vigor. I will use the extra time to focus on developing my posterior chain strength. But I am still going to keep doing pull ups until I can crank out my age in a single set! ;-)
  • Excellent article. I love "open your mouth"; my instructors for years have emphasized "nose breathing" and keeping the mouth closed and then one day I started training with a different instructor and the first thing he said to me was "open your mouth"; my shoulders have dropped and my breathing has improved ever since.
  • Hello Jesse, nice article, I have a few inquiries though: 5- Use your heels. Doesn't this contradict with https://www.karatebyjesse.com/why-karates-classic-heel-turn-is-scientifically-wrong/ for example, I mean the explanation? didn't you mean use the ball of the foot? 10. Don’t lift your knee for kicking Did not get the ass thing in practice (tried it and did not get it!!) 14. Your shoulder should always be in front of your chest. Never parallel to it. The same goes for your hikite arm! Shouldn't this be the hikite arm should be in front of "back" as in punching hand in front of chest and hikite to the opposite direction?? (it's counter intuitive and opposing hip rotation if both hands are in front of chest - tried it) 25. 0,2 seconds - I don't like this one, I am fast enough but I believe speed comes from proper technique (just check Mr Valdesi's shuto-uke, looks very fast but with extra useless moves). 31. Best one for me, to allow the hips to connect with the shoulders, this is in fact very applicable in fighting situations, when one can train to use that millisecond as a waiting on the opponent's reaction once dangerous distance is met and before proceeding with the attack. 32. related to five, I think you meant ball of foot Best Regards
  • Clark
    Oh Jesse I should be studying for my exam but there is no way I could not read this right away. Thank you so much for posting this, this is actualy amazing. #10 Honestly no one has ever told me otherwise, kicking was always from the knee and then the hips, so this is really useful for someone like me (who lives on a small island were 97% of people dont know what karate is)and there are only two styles of karate here. In using my butt muscles to kick now I feel a lot of my kicking problem may be solved since it was always a four part move, and now (I just tried it) it is much faster and seems much more fluid and powerful. It is so hard to choose any one of these since they are all so important and valuable. But thank you so much for posting this, I know a lot of people who would just keep these things to themselves and not share it. And I guess I will be adding 42 more things to focus on in my traning! Carrot cake for everybody! PS. I don't really understand #29, if someone would like to enlighten me that would be great :)
  • Matt
    Point 5 baffles me. You had a previous post where Lucio Maurino sensei explained how heel turning is physiologically inferior to turning on the ball of yor foot; for decades that is how I have seen and done turns, on the balls of my feet. Some time spent in both kendo and aikido dojos reinforced the idea of rotating on the balls and not the heels; ever seen a swordman rotate oh their heels? it doesn't happen. So, sorry, but point # 5 is just wrong. Show me someone who rotates or pivots on the heels of their feet and I'll show you the perfect victim for ashi-barai.
    • Matt, You are looking at this from a Competition basis. Of course its okay to pivot on the ball of your foot. But for self defense you have more stability on your heel, because your heel is closer to your center of balance. In competition your fighting is mostly long range and you are reaching to to find a target to achieve victory, where as in self defense your stability is very important and you are not reaching for a target, your target is coming to you. There is also one very important reason for the heel pivot, it takes the knee out of the pivot, preventing knee injury and it keeps you more compact.
  • Dewayne
    37 and 38 seem to go together. I will be concious of both in my practice. But as someone else noted all of these points are valid and valuable so I will be referring back to this message frequently. I'm always telling other students to relax. I will be telling them to smile from now on.
  • Bhaskar Sen
    I liked the idea #5 and later the idea is manipulated for comfort in #33. I have gone through Sensei Maurino's idea also, but somehow I have been practicing both the ways. And trust me the ultimate judge is the person who is performing. This one caught my eye. Period.
  • Man. You are one generous mofo, bro. Oops--Jesse-Sensei, sir. Each of these points warrants its own discussion, so for now, let me just say this post is right up there with your best. Thank you.
  • Shane
    Definitely #5. When you keep this point in the front of your mind you can immediately see a 'smoothing out' of your techniques. And not only that, there is less torque on the knees. You have to imagine this will decrease the chances of a twisting type knee injury.
  • Zane Kinney
    #31 -- I'm going to play with this one. I like the car crash metaphor. I used to teach fly fishing and used that image all the time to teach the principle of transferring power from the rod to the fly line. I love it when an instructor discovers a way to describe an experience that trigers a kinesthetic response in me just through my imagination. By the way, I still love my Seishin Gi.
  • Hi Jesse-san! I find that secrets 1, 4, 5, 6, 19, 20 and 36 are all about something that I find most difficulty with (considering I began training karate late in my life; I'm a 5th kyu now, been training for three years approximately, and i'm 33 years old): relaxation. I read somewhere else in your blog (don't remember exactly where) that this item (relaxation) is a common difficulty for westerners, since we are used to understand "strength" as "tension". I might be a particularly difficult case of this, as I've trained with weights many times in my life, and also have kind of a naturally muscular complexion. The relaxation theme gives me trouble in kata as much as in kumite, since it makes me slow, but, somehow, I find it easier to improve for kumite than for kata. I refuse to think it's a matter of age, as much as a problem of bad habits (stiffness). I deny to! Because, as you say, one can't go against age... but bad habits is something i'm used to, and I love to change. Taking that into account, and considering the secrets mentioned above, I'm planning to add some new tricks into my recently acquired good habit of training te waza without the gi, in heiko-dachi and in front of the mirror, trying to feel/achieve the 'whip'. Right now i'm able to snap with my core, but I notice that the problem begins with the lack of relaxation in pecs, scaps and shoulders (first thing to add to my training); the fact that I might be focusing too much on my arms instead of forgetting about them (second thing to add), and lastly, I'M NEITHER SMILING NOR OPENING MY MOUTH!! I don't even know what the hell am I doing with my jaw but it's definitely wrong, and something to consider. So these are the three items I'm going to focus on to begin with, and I'll leave the legs, and the moving around part, for later. You think that's ok? Looking forward to check out the rest of your notes from sensei Yoshimi Inoue's trainings :D big fan!
    • Chjalmar Try looking at it like this, it might help. What you concentrate on can often cause that area to tighten, especially in a stressful situation. Your legs are the driving force that propels the torso to strike the target with which ever limb or part of a limb being applied. So if you keep your awareness on the driving force, the mass being the torso will be automatically moved by the driving force, at what ever momentum your intention decides. This means all your attention should be on the driving force only. Now when your driving force stops your mass will automatically stop also, but your striking limb or missile if you like continues to its target automatically. all this means is once you know your move, the only focus of awareness necessary is the driving force. Hope this helps.
  • Nedim
    Number 5: Everything is important, but I have noticed that pivoting on my heels when I move in shiko dachi has made my shiko dachi must more fast and, if not furious, at least stable. It also feels much easier on the hips, it feels that the risk of strain and injury is much smaller now. Number 19 is also very important, as I lately have had a tendency to focus on my arms. #29 is connected with #19, because I have been using tension in kime, which doesn't really feel right. It feels as I am messing up my body, mostly neck and shoulders. So, I must try to expand instead. So when I move in shiko dachi, pivot on my heal, land with the front leg and at the same time (#31, a milisecond later) just use the core to whip out the arm while i focus kime on the back leg (#34). And do all that with the mouth slightly open (#1). I feel as if it has helped me already. Regardless, I have never before felt such inspiration, because now I actually have the tools to do better karate. I only need to work on it.
    • Nedim
      It should say that pivoting on my heel has made my shiko dachi MUCH more fast, not "must more fast".
  • Sören
    I will take numbers 11 and 38 at one. I've written a very large text here but the website didn't take it, so I just smile and make it much, much shorter this time: By adapting this techniques as one point I can improve my speed AND my balance and take it as a basis for adapting the rest of the points. Especially the smile which comes with success. And I'll try to find a natural looking way of keeping the mouth open and a faint smile on the outside (and a much bigger one on the inside). It may be gratefulness for having the opportunity to show the own skills that can cause such a relaxing smile. :-) As said, very short this time.
  • Lisa Skrypichayko
    I have already been working on opening my mouth with the idea of breathing more effectively, but the link to the jaw didn't occur to me - this is a great concept! So, of course I will continue with this, thinking of loosening my jaw, which relaxes the rest of the body - my chiro has told me this often, but now I see the connection! Thanks for a great article.
  • Thomas
    #6: ''Smile!'', Simple, yet hard to remember during practice. For me it's the best trick to instantly relax. And relaxation might be the most difficult (and important) thing to do during fighting.
  • Robert
    #3 is my choice. Guilty here as I imagine many are, will utilize #42 and get it done! Thanks for the articles, quiet reader, first time commenter, but I have enjoyed many.
  • Jimmy Turhus
    I like number 25 because that is what makes karate for me. Fast technics and smiling go together because my sensei weberg in norway was always smiling when he was fighting us. Faster is better
  • Daniel
    #29 and #37 my favourite ones. Can I only say "At last!!!" #18 is not clear: the support leg is the leg that has the weight on. But I understand the general meaning of this item anyway. Great post!!
  • Tom
    Hi Jesse, Great article, great points, thanks for posting those. Almost all of the suggestions are really useful but I am very confused with #29. Opposite to tension is relax so does it mean we should relax at the end of the technique ? Just recently I've watched Luca Valdesi's Unsu seminar and he clearly talks about contracting ALL the muscles at the end of each technique and he calls this 'kime'. I can see comparison to kicking soccer ball useful when we talk about kumite but in kata we have to stop the technique quickly so I am not sure if I understand the extraction instead of tension concept. Appreciate more clarification about this part and how this relates to Valdesis idea.
  • Ryushin
    " SMILE! :)" This would probably be the most used point during training as most people quickly get frustrated when the technique is not being executed as expected. We all know you cannot get things done wether it is karate or any other sport with a drifting and agitated mind. I would use it when my students are having a non progessive day and hope to achieve more.
  • Jesse-san, This a really valuable post - there are many, many things I wish to discuss with my Sensei and my dojo and see what we can implement. #4 resonated with me, especially since I am now just over six months out from my shodan grading for Goju Ryu after 9 years of training. At this point, I know the techniques and what they should look like, but to truly understand them and implement them in bunkai, kata and kumite, it will require imagination and empathy. Why does every kata start with a block? What is the meaning of this bizarre stance in nafunchin (that doesn't appear elsewhere?) All of these questions must be answered with theoretical knowledge combined with imagination to understand the feeling. We don't have much more than oral tradition in karate, at least not for the bulk of its history. It is only now that we are connected all over the world, and only very recently in the scheme of things. Therefore it is up to modern karate-ka to combine all these precious resources (and to toss out the bogus ones!) into a fuller, more enriching understanding of karate's elements. And personally, I sometimes get too wrapped up in the technical and historical when practising - imagination is the key to telling the story of kata. Each kata is a paragraph in karate's story - each kata is made up of sentences, with pauses and punctuation and cadence. By imagining all the ways each story may be told by each storyteller martial artist, perhaps my kata will blossom from being just technically correct to roaring with energy and that special eureka! moment. Thank you again for this fascinating post - it is most timely and informative! Happy days, Zoe H South Africa
  • "Use your heels" I've been indoctrinated to believe that turning on my heels is incorrect.
  • Terry
    10. Don’t lift your knee for kicking. That’s for beginners. Instead, focus on activating the powerful muscles of your ass. That one gave me my "Huh" moment of the day, and I've been sitting here at work running through my head how that would work, and now I'm really looking forward to getting home to try it out. I'd do it here, but people get nervous when I start moving office furnature out of the way to practice my kata. I've been looking for the "next level" for my kicks, and I think this might be what I'm looking for. Quick question: Number 14 ... Huh? I understand that my punching shoulder can be in front of my chest, but how can the shoulder on my hikite arm be in front of my chest at the same time? Well, I can do it, but I'm creating tension in order to do it. I think I'm missing something, and it's probably obvious since it's the end of the work day for me and I'm getting tired.
  • Josef-Peter Roemer
    As you have mentioned in your article, there are really no blocks in Karate, what most people understand as block is they see the end of the technique and assume they are blocking, when in fact the counter(deflection) happened earlier and what you see is a strike (Counter Attack). Such as in a so called right hand Downward block, (bring you arm up fast to the left side of your head (that is the deflection or called block) then fast down in front of you (This is what people call the block of a kick) it is actually a strike of the leg.
  • SMILE.... I sometimes have great difficulty in getting my students to relax during Kata, I asked them to smile this morning and BAM!!!! some relaxed students ENJOYING kata. Kia Ora Jesse San much appreciated
  • padme
    #28 I intend to develop my travel awareness from point A to B. I believe this connection of how to get there deepens understanding of kata to bunkai to kumite. If the footwork is not efficient, my techniques would suffer through lack of speed or distancing. For upper body, I could miss the intended grab or block as mentioned in #16. I will play with the footwork and positioning moves against different attacks and then play with what I found in kumite. Thank you
  • Oliver
    #29 I never thought about the end of punches and kicks like that. When I started in Karate, I would tense a lot at the end of strikes to feel powerful, but practicing now, I see that it just makes me feel strong, but doesn't let really give me the strength to punch out of a wet paper bag (well, ok, maybe a wet one, but not a dry one, those things are strong!). I will use this in all my kata and see how it feels and how it effects the snap of my techniques. I am also going to lightly at first test this on pads and makiwara to see if it helps produce more power and still keeps my precious hands and feet safe! Thanks so much for the awesome entry, Jesse-san!
  • Rae
    Jesse the timing of the article is quite something for me. I have recently been made a style orphan! I have recently managed to find myself short of a dojo in my chosen karate style. Doh! I love karate (I of course travel to courses), I can't just not train in a dojo week in week out. So I will be practicing point 21 to the max, and will be going to another style's dojo to get my karate fix. Post 21 I will be trying to implement the rest of the points on this fantastic list (I always have a couple of pointers to try to work on when I train). Great karate is great karate, regardless of styles. I will continue to improve and keep smiling! I love the fact Sensei endorses smiling during karate :D Keep up the good work Jesse!
  • Hello Jesse-san! Damn, this article is just amazing. Especially since the Worlds in Paris 2012 I decided to train some day with Inoue and I watched alot videos from seminars of him on youtube. This man is just awesome. And now I read your article. Another time you help me to improve more in karate. Thank you so much! As you said, there is a possibility to win those notes, I gladly want to join right here. I choosed: "41. You can make excuses, or you can make progress. You can’t make both", because it's also my mainly motivational quote (well, in a similar form) and these words are absolutely true. As a competitor, dedication is very important - so: NO EXCUSES! I'll try those princips little by little in training with my sensei and look whats works best for me. Today I tried the "smile" trick - it worked great! :) Greatings from germany, Matthias
  • Matt
    Hello Jesse san. Thank you for the hard work. I like a lot of points of the 42secrets, and I'll pick up the #22 because I have some problems with my balance. For example in the kata seipai, when you switch position from the shiko daichi to neko dachi turning of 180* sometimes I lose some balance. So at the next training I'll keep in mind to think about the speed speed and speed and to go faster :) and I'll also start to smile a little more :):):) have a nice day and thank you matt.
  • Frank
    Thanks Jesse for another thought provoking post. #19 - it's all about the core. Every time my core goes out of shape, so does my karate! Much to work on :-)
  • Jeanne O'Bryan
    #15 Use impact tools when in doubt of technique. I like to use chairs or pads because it is easier to pay attention to when I am doing the technique correctly with the proper foot position or hand position.
  • This is a great list. I feel like I was maybe taught a few things differently, way back when I took Wado Ryu at the UC Berkeley club (but that was around 9 years ago, and I only got to green belt--trying to relearn some kata now and find time to join a new dojo). I may be remembering wrong after all these years, but I think we were taught to tense our hand on impact, while being relaxed the rest of the time, which I think may be contra #29... but you know, I suspect I am remembering the nuances wrong--could be that I was actually taught something very similar to what you say here, haha. Re: # 26, I definitely need to join a dojo again--it's been surprising how things have come back to me now that I'm practicing daily again, but I'm starting to realize that I need some guidance if I'm not going to hurt myself (had to quit last time due to medical circumstances--unrelated to karate practice though. Getting a PhD may have crowded it out a bit too...). Also--great blog! Glad I found it.
  • Jill
    #39 Sometimes as an instructor I have to remember to give to my students as much as I expect them to give to me. I have to inspire and not just require.
  • Florian Pean
    WOW this has to be one of your best tips article ever. Thank you very much for sharing Sensei Inoue's pearls of wisdom with everyone. I'm definitely applying the open mouth and smile in my next Kata tournament which is only in 2 weeks. I'll also be working on the rest of the points as well, this will give me enough material to keep me improving for years. Thanks again
  • kanhaiya
    29-Expand. This is something I feel is really important and has been lacking in my training a lot lately, so I will be using this to increase me speed, power, and focus. It is something I learnt from a tai chi guy once, but have kinda let it slip my mind. No longer shall it remain dormant! I shall release the power within!
  • Mike
    Note 5 is somewhat in contradiction with another one of your articles where you said that you should NOT turn on your heels. I believe it was in an interview with Luca Valdesi or something like that.
  • Thanks a lot for this post Jesse. I have my first competition in Japan in two days, I will try to use some of this tips! Osss
  • Martin Layar
    Hello Sensei Jesse. It is great to be able to let you hear my voice here. :) I have read through the 42 lessons you've learnt from Sensei Inoue Yoshimi. As a beginner, some of these 42 lessons are beyond my level, and as such, I have decided to print them for keepsakes so that when I get to a higher level, I can review them again to improve on myself. However, I think that the FIRST lesson, "Open Your Mouth", would be just what I need to start being great. Many-a-time, I find that my techniques are quite choppy and stiff, instead of loose and smooth. Also, I forget to open my mouth during kata training at times. Thus, I shall always remember to open my mouth to let the Chi flow through my body in order to smoothen and relax my technique. Once again, thank you for sharing these 42 tips with the rest of the world. As a Karate Nerd, I understand that my cause is to improve upon modern Karate(Especially to sow the seeds of better karate as a "Gardener" of modern Karate)through Critical thinking and I see the importance and value of you sharing these wise words on the internet. I will strive on to be the best that I can be. Thank you :)
  • Kim
    Loved this article - I can't pick one I'm sorry. I'm going to print this out and work through each one each week for the next year. Hopefully at least one will sink in! Domo arigato gozamashita
  • Joao Baptista
    First I want to thank you for this post. Soke Yoshimi Inoue, is one of my idols Karate. I choose n24 "Always ask (how and why)." I think this is the most important. Unifies all other issues. I love to train Karate, but understand how all the pieces come together, is very important to me. Chat with Soke Yoshimi I., should be a unique experience. Oss! Jessie-San
  • Ladee
    i'll choose #24, Always ask how and why. Because, as a beginner in Karate, if I don't understand some technique on how to do it, I always ask my Sensei. Whenever I ask, I gain knowledge and improve. Thanks for this awesome article, it will really help me in my journey as a Karateka. OSSU!
  • #6. One of our late masters taught me years ago.... "smile, smile, smile, SNARL!!!" when executing technique. The idea was to relax throughout the technique until the point of kime. It was excellent advice for a young 20 something that was trying to muscle through everything.
  • Sally
    I am quite interested in learning more about number 11. I am brown belt & we have been learning more about using the hips lately, but I've never heard the term 'tighten your knees'. This baffles me how you can tighten your knees but not your legs at the same time. I have bad knees and I must be careful how I turn so I will be working on this one! Thanks Jesse! Love your blogs... :~)
  • #10 Tensing the buttocks with forward pelvis tilt was explained to me as facilitating rapid forward motion either a kick or lunge hand strike.I feel like my forward momentum is very hard to stop like someone is pulling me forward by tieing a rope around my hips pulling me forward thru a series of lunges.Start from a hi stance moving to low stance as you go forward enhances rule num 37.This is my contest entry/ OTHER OBSERVATIONS #28 Thank you I have tried to explain this to students over and over .They are to fixated on the resulting "pose" . #31 Sounds like JACK DEMPSY drop step punch .The hand moves forward with the stepping foot and just as the heel touches the ground your weight is dropped into the opponent .Stepping then punching is incorrect and very hard to correct if the student has been doing that for some time.Best way to correct it is to use the TAI CHI concept "slow makes fast". #34 shotokan principle based on opposite and equal reaction to any action.WHEN striking with either hand the heel of the rear foot should feel as if being driven into the surface you are on while gripping with the toes irregardless of stance.
  • Diego
    A short time ago (a couple months?) we had a kata seminar with none the less than the great Antonio Diaz, in his homeland, Venezuela. His positions were so perfect... aethestic... very snappy techniques. He performed the best shiko dachi I've seen in my life. With two toddlers standing on each leg. Do you know what I mean, right? One kid standing on his left leg (and supporting himself on Antonio's shoulder!) and another one on his right leg. He taught us some points in this post, for example the neko ashi dachi weight balance (which has been taught from my sensei ever since I learned pinan nidan), the timing and the "snap". Great article. I love lists like those.
  • #6 Smile! ... I had to smile when I read this, as I often get told by senior senseis to relax (as they prod my shoulders like some sort of medical experiment gone awry.) I remember one Sensei saying he had to think of a different word than "relax" as it wasn't working properly, so maybe that's the one.
  • Shaun Emery
    So many great points here in this article, thank-you for sharing this with us Jesse-san! I, and a lot of others from the looks of it, question the heel turn point. Going back and reading your interview with Luca Valdesi cleared this up for me. Like most things on this amazing karate journey, there is no one way for everybody. Different forms at different times, along with different body structures and preferences will call for different types of turns. Put in the work, learn from the spirit of your instructors, and find what works for you. Thanks again!
  • Ty
    Number 2, train less improve more!!! This is such an important point to any karateka! Especially living in the western world, where we all work eight hours a day, five days a week, it is so hard to achieve our karate goals!By "training less, and improving more" it gives westerner's a new ideology about Kata. Westerners believe that kata is 100% geographically dominated - if you don't train in Japan, you cant win!For me, it is important to use every second of training to improve, Inoue Yoshimi Sensei is truly a genius!! Of course becoming a world champion takes training 10am - 10pm, like Rika Usami, but it takes training, over improving, to at least share a stage with Usami, Diaz, Valdesi, Nguyen - to name a few Kata champions.. Thank you Jesse-San, you are our connection to our favorite karateka
  • Vibhor Garg
    Hi JESSE , Do you have any videos related to this training , if yes , please do share , i am simply amazed by Sensei. Oss !
  • Yasuko
    Kon nichi wa ~ Sensei Jesse, It was very hard to pick "one" from all.. I picked #18 This helped me to feel more Gamaku to my Uke and Tsuki. I guess my face look different too :) I'll take my time to study all Arigato Gozaimasu!!
  • James
    Jesse-san, I just have to ask on #5: Who do I pay attention to? Lucio Maurino sensei, when he says that turning on the heel is physiological, anatomical and evolutionary wrong, or ill-advised to say the least and that we should turn on our metatarsus? Or Inoue Yoshimi sensei, when he says turn on the heel as it keeps your shoulders relaxed and your knees unlocked, which allows for snappy and quick movements? A little help.....please?
    • Pawel
      I would say the one that feels more natural to you. Karate movements are natural movements that are suposed to work, not to looks pretty. I would say test both versions over some time and decide which one goes better for you. For me its the heel, with reasons that have been already said in the interview with sensei maurino
    • James-san, for me it's case-by-case basis. That said, this phenomenon isn't exclusive to heel turning per se - I've noticed Okinawan, Japanese and Western Karate masters have opposing views on so many things when it comes to the "correct" execution of Karate that it's almost comical. In the end, you will always have to find what works best for you.
  • HarrySan
    Jesse-san, thanks for this wonderfull article. If u remember the movie 'Karate Kid 1', Miyagi say's... Karate not here...(arms & legs) karate here( mind & hurt). So, karate is INSIDE US, and the best way to execution are dachi and kihon is that our body say's.... Can't all the people has the same flexibillity at there body... Turn with what ever u feel better... At the end u see its the same... We do karate!!! :p
  • fred
    #4 (if the contest is still opened) The main tool you use in karate is your body, therefore in my opinion that's why you can't train well and improve if you don't listen to what your body is saying, your feelings. And because karate is, for me, a way of life, a way to find your true self it should start with listening to your feelings. And since “Karate is 99% feeling” all the other points can relate to this one. Thus, HOW would I use this point ? Well trying to relax more, gaining true control of the tanden through abdominal breathing and selfconciousness of the different parts of the body involvded in every movement. And of course keeping an open mind about everything that cross my path ;)
  • Alex McGregor
    I'll train from 9am to 11pm and not eat! ... Ha-ha! No, I'll focus much more on using the core for all movement. Incidentally, I'm doing Rushfit by George St-Pierre and he actually says that it all comes from the core too. Punches, kicks, everything. Thank you Jesse-sama.
  • I will focus on the posterior chain. It makes sense to me, i am trying to build strength and speed into my technique and i think that that might be key to my gaining my goal. I am privileged to be under a sensei who is innovative and comprehensive in his teaching, so many of the other things i have worked out for my self, such as we have been doing heel turns as a technique in turning powerfully in kata (forward), for months. I have also been influenced by Sensei Scott Langley's article on "the snap of karate". Once i got that, my karate improved tremendously. I have also found that sometimes when i have had to be off karate for a few days, my karate is improved rather than worse. Food for thought.- thanks :)
  • It's funny. Before I saw the contest, I was trying some advices in my kitchen. 3, 10.. But my favorite will definitely be de 18th. Maybe it's a beginner mistake to put the weight on the front leg. The first thing I could notice is that the pain in my left hip is really less suffering. This is a real revelation for me. ;) With this little point, I think that I can progress faster, better. I'm still a beginner... It's the best moment to acquired good habit. Training without pain... There is a really good reason to smile!! :D
  • Alex K
    #28 for me! Why I will use it? Because it is an extremely effective explanation that I can give to people who have been "dancing" their kata without ever trying any in-depth study. And how I will use it? I will be sure when going through kata with people to always start with segments, to consider the transitions in and of themselves, so that a full understanding of the kata is built up from a ground level up, from the transitions from A to B to C to D; without having to be broken down at a later stage having "learnt" the set of positions, but not having taken away any of the substance.
  • David
    The ones that stand out to me are... Open your mouth Use the posterior chain Karate is 99% feeling I will be incorporating this in my kata training. Thank you
  • Rab Neil
    Hi, apart from everything on the list my favourite is No 5 using your heel to turn. Wow! what a difference this has had on my kata technique.. Thank you so much.. At my age of 51years and still competing in WUKF events knowledge like this is invaluable.. Regards Rab.
  • Osk
    Hello there! karate is feeling, I would say to improve feeling it is the key you can practice only for the matter of doing it so but definitely when you think you are doing this for protecting yourself or somebody else it changes, seriously karate as a hobby it was not my thinking since a began 11 years ago, being focus and concentrate we can avoid injuries between partners at the dojo, if every technique is done at 100% you will felt it at the end of the class and the day after and they after so lets train seriously! And share your no pain no gain Smile with your people at the Dojo for encouraging them !!
  • Wouter
    Hi Jesse Sensei The 1 answer is definitely no 42 open your mouth! Why? 42 is the answer to the Universe :-) No seriously opening your mouth is the natural thing to do when executing a technique, it helps you to breath out, to do your Kia properly, when one speaks you have to open your mouth so it works as an activator for your mind and just as words flow so will technique. Animals also fight with their mouths open, even those that choose flight :-) Thanks for awesome articles. Best regards
  • Hi Jesse, Awesome article. Hope you share more on what you learned from Inoue! As far as the contest I would choose question 4. How would it improve my karate? Being able to see an opponent mentally as you are performing the kata makes you serious about every technique in the kata. Adding the other principals the imagination is powerful and lends the practitioner a deeper sense physically, spiritually and mentally connection to what the kata means to them. I hope I making some sense here. Its like visualization but with more intensity since kata demands to be performed in a that it was created for. I think that would improve my karate on personal level.
  • Danniel Li
    Hi Jesse...I will use on my Karate training that advice that says: "SMILE!". Why? Because I want to lift my Karate training to a very personal aspect, and lately I've been "living in the darkness", giving me problems with myself, with my girlfriend, with my environment...with my own training! So, I've hearsd that hing about "relax! expand!", but never, never heard about "smile!", it's just...so simple, looks like so easy to do that really scares me, because I'm a person who doesn't like to smile...I can improve my fists, my legs, could do "deadlifts" at the gym, to make stronger my back chain, but "smile!", the just word really freaks me out. And now, the "How"...well, i will try to remember some good times, with my family, with my friends, I will try to remember my own goals, the path to that goals, and will do my best effort to smile at my training, at my life, i'm pretty tired to be a nobody, to be a kind of loser, and maybe this simple word, this little advice could make the great difference in my life. Well, it doesn't really matter if I win the notes from Sensei Inoue, I just want to thank you for share these important points, i think they will serve me so much well. PD: Sorry for my bad english, I'm an autodidact guy who leran from 80's songs and Horror, Sci-Fi, Action, an Martial Movies. Oh, almost forget...:) the 1st smile!
  • Hisham
    point 24 Most kata have deep meaning in them.Not just in the exact actions, but also in situational variations. For example, Motobu Choki said,"Twisting to the left or right from the Naifuanchin stance will give you the stance used in a real confrontation. Twisting ones way of thinking about Naifuanchin left and right, the various meanings in each movement of the kata will also become clear." Tekki/Naihanchi katas have deep bunkai which a lot of people dont inquire into. We need to ask & introspect. Check this out- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpNTwZyZZzI(Tekki Shodan Bunkai)
  • Torbjörn Lekberg
    4. “Karate is 99% feeling.” Greatings! It was hard to pick just one. I am not a prodigy in martial arts, but I am a philosopher by nature, so this quote inspiers me. By observing the world around me, as well as a few other martial arts styles, I have come to know some techniques better that than under my instructors. Observing a rock, a cat, a coin... There is no end to what you can lern from the most unsuspected of sources. By noticing the patterns of the world, and lerning to know them within myself, I have improved by technique as well as much else in life. However, when seeing the masters quote, I realize that my mind is not just a helpul (and vital) tool in karate, but can also be a hinderence. It gets in the way when I overthink my moves, wich also slowes me down. Wich brings up another of Inoue senseis quotes: "As you get older, work with nature – not against it". I may not be old, but I think this is somthing I need as well. I must lern to trust my body and put the analysis aside when it is not needed. I am grateful that you have shared the words of the master, they have taught me much. Arigato! (Sorry for my lacking spelling. As a swede, english is nomy first language)
  • Dwight Schrute
    Your #16 is spot on. A traditional (full) block has a prepare and a block. The prepare can (should) be interpreted as the block and the block as the action. I to tae kwon do in English and the English terms can limit your thinking and application of the techniques.
  • Nicki
    Hi Jesse-san, I think for me 'The One Leg Principle' is the one I will be working on applying first. Using your example above I can already feel improper weight distribution with my muscle memory. Also, I am going to Japan later this year and would love the opportunity to train with Inoue sensei, do you know any contact details I could try? Thanks, and again a superb article!
  • tom
    There are some mistakes above because of physics. For example no.9. If your leg must be a source of power, your body can not be "as a car". You legs can not be like wheels. Karate is not a feeling. It is a physics of the human body. Best regards.
  • Ebony
  • 18. In zenkutsu dachi (front stance), your weight should be on the back leg – not your front leg. The back leg should be like bamboo; strong but flexible. (Not stiff like a stick). Relax your front leg. It only acts as support. Your back leg controls the action and power. I'm definitely going to try this to see how it works out. Normally I keep my weight over my center point, with the back leg operating like a spring absorbing force from the front, and pushing strikes forward. I want to try this now so that I can see how it is different. I will use whichever one works better. Most of this is good, but #1 will get your teeth broken; 6 makes me tense; 14 applies to his style not my Kung Fu; 22 is not the way Chinese internal arts do it so I don't know other than when I was young and doing hard style I tried this and fell down, a lot; 33 My style never does this, it makes no sense to me; 34 we some times use both legs equally; and 38 we maintain balance. Your articles are very good. You should collect and expand them into a book.
  • Per
    I haven't seen this before now, but I disagree with 35 - that is when the subject is male. :) https://www.sportdata.org/karate/set-online/popup_main.php?popup_action=results&vernr=807 And as an answer to Tom above: karate IS a feeling. Remember Funakoshi's words - mind first, technique second. Br
  • faulana indonesia
    13. When executing double techniques (with both hands), don’t twist your hips. Instead, act like a spring or wave. This is how you generate energy when using both hands simultaneously. can you give me an example , a short tutorial video for this point?
  • Alfredo Mayorca
    Oss everyone. I am glad to read all this info about Karate. I am a National Competitor from Venezuela and I'm posting some kumite training videos to share with everybody. I will appreciate your comments and feedback. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KErVsEUBWM
  • geoff
    25. Now I have a goal of punching/blocking at 0.2 seconds. Thanks Jesse
  • Austin Witherow
    Two comments from the Sensei stood out to me most. "Plunge into the detailed mystery of the micro to understand the macro. Improving one small thing will improve many things." I took this as "strengthen your strengths, and they will improve your weaknesses". I often find myself at karate not being able to do a certain kick too well, or a certain throw feels off... but others I am killer at. Instead of stressing about those that I'm not succeeding in, I'll use that wasted energy to better my strengths, and maybe I'll find inspiration to improving my weaknesses through them. Secondly, "the secret to motivation is to always be asking questions". Often times, one assumes they hold all wisdom, and cannot learn more. This is death, and motivation is life. Assume you know nothing, ask questions in everything, and take action on what you've learned.
  • Carlos
    Jesse, from now on Im going to train thinking that I am a car, because the idea of having the wheels going to one side and the engine in another direction is hilarious, like taken from a cartoon.. Same thing with the head! Telling the car which way to go.. The body should act like One machine and not separate parts, so I think this methaphor will improve my training a lot. Thanks !,
  • Li
    Hi Jesse, and first of all thank you for the excellent articles! I'm not yet enrolled in an actual martial arts dojo but I do participate in a weekly Shinai group which is based on Kendo but is more free-form, a class mostly for fun & exercise. Although it's not karate, still I've found that your karate articles have helped me to become much better at shinai, much more centered and calm, as well as becoming more centered & calm in everyday life. All of these listed here are terrific points but since you asked us to choose one, then #37 is something I'd like to work with right now, both in shinai and also metaphorically in everyday life - the statement “Martial arts support gravity. They have friendship.” To move faster, cooperate with gravity. Let it literally pull you into each stance." Thank you again for your articles, and you don't have to send me anything...I just wanted to say your teachings have a positive affect on my life, and I'm grateful & appreciative of the time you take to post them. :) Peace... ~Li
  • 17. Depth over breadth. Plunge into the detailed mystery of the micro in order to understand the macro. Improving one small thing will improve many things. Hi, I'm Si Roddam, a 2nd kyu karateka at present working hard up the karate ladder at Lancashire Shotokan in England (lska.co.uk). Point 17 is a very good point for me. I learn stances, combinations, kata etc and tend to think, what's next? I want to keep moving forward in the sense of learning more and more of my shotokan syllabus. However, I should try to focus more so on analysing myself and my techniques to fine tune what I'm learning which will inevitably make for better karate going forward. I will take away a lot from Sensei Inoue Yoshimi's points, but "Depth over Breadth" is a stand out point for me.
  • Rodrigo
    Regarding the question about the proper pivoting point, in the video in which he shows how to step in zenkutsu dachi, Inoue sensei actually pivots on the metatarsus. Watch it closely: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRRrKPZTDvc I think that in this context "using the heel to pivot" actually means "to pivot while keeping the heel down". This actually provides better support for the ankle and economizes motions. Furthermore, if you compare Inoue sensei's execution of stepping techique to Maurino sensei's, you will not find any substantial difference. The discrepancy lies merely in the way they put it into words. Saludos de Argentina.
  • arekireng
    Hai Jesse sensei ,Thank you very much for your great article,especially no 6. just not relax to train but we must smile too. I am sorry,my english not good. arekireng
  • Mike P
    Hi Jesse, Thank you for posting these points! I will immediately put into practice 6. “Smile!” When Inoue sensei thinks you are tense, he never says “relax!“. Instead, he says “smile!” – which is a psychological trick to make you relax. It’s hard to be tense when you’re smiling! Plus, you perform better when you’re happy. when I practice and demonstrate my Kata. I'll start with my tokui kata and start applying it to others.
  • Reg Piper
    Hi Jesse San. I am going to work on my zenkutsu dachi stance. I am a big guy and find it hard to move quick while in zenkutsu. I am going to concentrate and put more weight on the back leg like you suggested. And just like that, I expect incremental improvement. Thanks.
  • Kendra Duff
    #6 Smile! I spent my last training smiling like an idiot the whole time. After a while the whole dojo was smiling and it was super relaxed.and a lot of fun :) I think I'll smile a bit more from now on!
  • Gavin McErlean
    How to improve read question 42 carefully..........and all questions above 42
  • Jesse... My sincere condolences. Please tell me you still have a digital copy of those notes... Glenn Irvine Kodomon Karate-Do
  • This is like finding the Dead Sea Scrolls!!!! Sooooo much enlightening information in here. It's great to have so many reminders on one list. Thank you Jesse-san! OK...My selection is number 29...it's brilliant. If I think of how I have been executing my techniques for years I realize I am missing the penetrative effect. Expanding is exactly what has been missing for me. I will begin this practice immediately and am sure I will see the results. Thank you thank you! BUT...number 10 baffles me a bit...how do you raise your knee to kick using an opposing muscle like your glut? AND...number 13 is difficult for me to visualize the spring or wave action. Which part of your body is acting as the wave? Tanden? Thanks again for this. Best one ever for me.
  • Javier F U
    RIP Sensei Inoue. Jesse you wrote "Why Karate’s Classic “Heel-Turn” is Scientifically Wrong". So what do you think with the secret number 5 "Use your heels". Thank you. Oss
  • Brian Schmidt
    R.I.P. Sensei Inoue, To me number 24 is the one thing I teach student's in class it is not only good to now How to do a technique but Why we do that technique, what is the purpose of it this i feel is how they understand the meaning of all they learn, I have learnt this myself over a 47 year as a martial artist of many different styles. Thank You for your insite , much loved reading, Sensei Brian .
  • Riz
    Jesse San There are many good advice. I choose 11. Though finding it hard to imagine to unhinge my hip joint. I'll have to think about that. What does it mean? Movement and transitions is one of the things I am working on.
  • Faisal Taimoor
    Train less. Improve more. Although Inoue’s speciality is elite training for world-class performance, he is quick to point out that excessive Karate training is bad for your health. Two hours a class, three days a week is his recommendation for the optimal training dose. will make focus and deep thinking on each step I learned upto now to improve my Karate. And shall be thankful to you and Soke Inoue-Yoshimi may his soul rest in peace. And of course I am smiling :):):):):) Thank you very much for sharing this extra ordinary information and knowledge from a Legend Soke. Faisal Taimoor
  • Loki
    Maybe I'm late haha..but gonna try who knows you'll share Inoue sensei's notes with me :) i'm gonna take no.19, on how to do great arm techniques. I'm just a beginner, yellow belts and yeah i realized that i've been using my arm and shoulder so much especially when punching that sometimes it becomes stiff. So for a better techniques next time i'll try to focus more on the core for better body coordination. thanks for the tips though Jesse-san, really appreciate it *smile*
  • I know you wrote this article a while ago and the notes are probably not available anymore, but I'm very glad I came across your site. Number 13 is definitely something I will work on. It makes a lot of sense, of course, because spring/wave motion goes well with what karate is for me. It's not supposed to be rigid and movements should not be locked. As I always tell my fellows at the dojo - relax and you will actually be more powerful. Too many people are firm in their movements to the point where they make themselves slower and tense for no reason. Relaxing my body helps me be faster and have snappy techniques. My sensei always talks about body vibrations - that is how we generate energy. I am sure that making my hips flow in a motion of a spring will improve my technique making my kata better and helping my kumite as well. I see it as a way to kick/punch and snap back getting away from the reach of my opponent. Thank you so much for sharing what you learned from your sensei. M
  • Calvin Chu
    Hello Sensei Jesse, #39 is I'm doing when I'm teaching and commanding trainees. I do counting loudly by using the way of breathe just like kiai, instead of just only using voice. The counting or commanding voice is really affects trainees performance and spirit in training. I've been experienced this when I'm still a fresh karateka, I felt stressed and hard to perform skills and techniques when the voice of instructions are lame or unclear; I felt more morale inside me and performing more speed and power skills and techniques when I heard loud and clear commands. Thanks for your knowledges, I keep to read them. Oss
    Bonjour et merci pour toutes les informations et les conseils. Mais je suis triste le Maitre est décédé le 1 mai 2015, que c'est -il passé. Accident, Maladie....merci e me répondre. Je suis le président du Club CAL KARATE DE LISIEUX en FRANCE; amicalement à tous.
  • Ayman
    Hello man, Great posts and articles as usual. I just like to know what exactly you mean by keeping shoulders front of the chest please. Peace
  • Luca
    Sensei Takashi Tokihisa taught me number 30! It's always great to have tips from the masters, and your website is super useful, but sometimes I just need to leave my computer and train!
  • Malthe Engedal
    Hello Jesse-San Im 14 years old, from Denmark and im Really into kata. This article was Really helpfull! I like All of Them! It makes your karate Work in a total differrent Way that you normally practice. It makes so much sense. But i Really like 24, because its generally one of the Best ways to get good. And of course 27 :) Great article!
  • Rudolph
    How does your secret # 5 comply with your latest video doing away with heel-turning? Seems like opposite advice while only being given a year apart.
  • Gavin Randall
    Os Sensei Jesse What a great article, we can relate to this article, for within here lies secrets of martial arts that can only be unlocked and attained by an inquisitive mind and many, many years of travel within a dedicated journey of mind, body and soul. This is why our 16 year journey has reached a fork in the road and we are now intrigued with Inoue Ha Shitoryu Keishinkei. A truly great article, you were very luck to have trained with Soke whilst he was still alive. Os.
  • divyanhu
    i WOuld go for point 4 because that's same thing my sensei usually told me go with imagination not with power
  • Luke
    How do you marriage the lock and hold principle with expand on execution? No movement in between techniques is what I mean with lock and hold. If I execute like kicking a ball I keep on following through after impact.
  • Joris
    Hi Jess, I love your work! I have a little question concerning this article. Inoue Sensei said: 2. Train less improve more and 27. “In my dojo, we start practice 9 in the morning and finish 11 in the evening. Sometimes we forget food" These two principles are totally different, aren't they? Can you tell me why are these two principles totally different? I'd love to understand the best training way according to Inoue Sensei. Thank you, Jess!
  • Vijeta Singh Rajput
    Respected Sensei. I learned Karate after my graduation. I wanted to participate at international level. But due to financial problem I could complete till Green Belt and left. Today I am 25 years old and want to restart and practice Kata for international competitions. But is it so that after 25 practicing Karate is not possible?
  • Dp
    Why is his obi black....and yours is all faded and worn.
    • I was wearing an old one, he was probably wearing a new one :-)
  • This article is very delightful to read, I wonder if you wrote more on kata. Best!
  • Rush Carlton
    It's going to take some serious relearning on my part but I'm going to work on relaxing the hips instead of the knees when stepping or turning. Wish me luck.
  • Raouf
    I used to open my mouth when doing a kata and with my tongue outside a little..but my sensei said I should control this bad habbit and close my mouth in Kata. Now, whose advice am I going to adopt..?!!
  • McDarren
    Do you have video examples of tips number 10 and 11?
  • Irene
    great article, thanks! :) (saw you in Chile) :)
  • Ali
    Open your mouth I like this point. I used not to focus on my students' mouthes but from now I'll do my best.
  • Greg Shraiman
    #28. I love that one! I always compared Kata to music, where what makes the melody beautiful - it's not just a set of notes and sounds, but is a silence between the notes, pause, transition. I like few pointers about how to play with the body weight while changing stances . Thank you for that
  • You help us too much . We are able to learn karate by ourselves in home during lockdown. Thnk u
  • Sydfrey
    #19: When executing techniques, make sure you have your body weight centered over the balls of your feet - not your heels. This goes for rotations and directional changes too. The optimal way to move for humans is by exerting pressure towards the front of the foot (the ball of the foot). Having your weight on the heel isn’t just unsound from a perspective of mechanical efficiency, but doesn’t make sense from an evolutionary perspective either (we don't run backwards). Sowww Jesse-Sensei, these are from your 25 karate hacks. It contradicts to what Soke Inoue taught you. He taught you heels not balls....of the feet. Please kindly clarify.
  • Elisha Gaugh
    Number 21 is my favorite: I hope to explore the different karate styles and see how their technique variations work relative to the human body.
  • Mimi
    I'm currently a yellow belt karate student, so I guess I had to take away many of the lessons you've listed ! #2 - Train less, improve more When I first started practicing karate, I was determined to devote a lot of my time to this art, to the point of being willing to train every single day. I would come to the dojo every day at the beginning, until my Sensei told me not to come more than three times a week because my muscles wouldn't get time to rest. He was right, but I only realized it after I stubbornly kept on training at home instead, and getting muscle and joints injuries from this. And now I realize that improvement is smarter than training too hard. #3 - Use your posterior chain Up until today I thought that my abs and quads only would make a difference in my practice of karate. But since the late Coach Inoue recommended to use our posterior chain mainly (at least, that's what I understood) I'll be stretching and strengthening them more from now on. #18 - I'm an adult toe-walker, and even though I'm trying really hard to correct this, especially since I've started Karate, I think I didn't realize until I read this article that my weight had to be carried by my "deficient" back leg. That's something I'll be working on from now on ! #19 - My kicks are pretty good so far, but I have a hard time executing arm techniques correctly, and when I read this, I realized I was focusing on the wrong part of my body. And here's another thing I'll be implementing to my karate training ! #25 - I never realized how fast the karate techniques I used had to be. I think I can record myself practicing karate and see if I can execute the techniques at that rhythm. #29 - Expand Another takeaway that I'll be using forever ! BONUS : Dear Jesse, I really enjoy your articles and videos ! You're a true inspiration for karate newbies ! Keep up your great work !
  • Akash sonber
    Open your mouth during kata i think this ? good sensei I like that one love from India????

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