Koshi O Hineru

The above phrase, “Koshi o hineru“, translates as “Twisting (of the) hips“.

This is something very important in both Karate and Kobudo (and nearly every other Martial Art out there). It is especially important in Kobudo, since you need to swing some extra weight.

But… we have a problem.

There seems to be some people (mostly in Okinawan styles) who are almost obsessed with twisting the hips too much. They even violently shake and twist their hips when they do yoi! If you are not ‘shaking them hips’, you are not doing Karate/Kobudo, according to them.

To me, if you are shaking your hips like that, you are not doing Karate/Kobudo, you are doing belly-dancing!

Sure, twisting of the hips is a crucial part of almost every technique, but it is only one part. If I remember correctly, I once learned that in Yaguy Shingan-ryu Ju-jutsu there is a term known as “ashi-koshi-te“.

“Foot, hip, hand.”

This might be a Ju-jutsu term, but it holds equally true for both Karate and Kobudo. The power (chikara) is generated from the foot, through the knee joint, through the hip joint, through the shoulder joint, through the elbow joint, through the wrist joint, and finally:

Into the target.

Crossing a total minimum of 6 joints.

The hip is only one of them.

If you are obsessed with the hip, you will forget the other 5, and soon you will be belly-dancing! Not only that, but all of your techniques will be lacking in speed, and you will be lacking in defence (when you wind up your hips). Plus, you will telegraph your movement! And worst of all, you can never get proper kime (unless you take that hip-twisting and squeeze it inside your hara)!

Please don’t get me wrong, the hip is actually important. Because out of all of these joints it is the biggest, and thus it has capacity of generating most power.

So my conclusion is this:

The hip joint may stand for a majority of the power, but to get maximum power you can not neglect the other joints. And if the hip movement is exaggerated, it will have a negative effect on the whole.

But hey, it’s easier to just swing the hips and hope that some power comes out!

Plus, you can always get some nice insurance money when you break your lower back from all that twisting!


  • Saxon_Thor
    Between yourself and I, if you watch the series of Goju-Ryu kata performed by Sensei Morio Higaonna in the early '80's that we've seen on youtube, would it be your assertion that his hip twisting is over-exaggerated or improper? Thank you in advance for your response.
    • I'm not sure exactly which videos you mean, but from what I could find, no, I don't think his hip twisting is improper. That was the way he understood it at his level back then. Today, I guess he does it differently though.
  • The hip shaking seems to have spread everywhere now - where I believe it was once marginal (a few instructors like Yuchoku Higa). Are we non-shakers now the minority?
    • "There is a time and place for everything..." :)
  • What of Okinawa Karate-Do Shorin Ryu Kishaba Juku where Koshi development is very important? Master Katsuhiko Shinzato use of the koshi is amazing. I see a lot of power and speed in the way he does it. Check out: http://www.okinawabbtv.com/culture/karate/matsubayashi/index.htm
    • David Donahue
      Master isn’t a term used in Kishaba Juku. Shinzato demonstrates the application of Koshi as best as most anyone in the world though!
  • Cory
    This is something relating to your article about strength training and conditioning training. Where you talk about losing energy in certain areas due to muscle balance and so forth. I believe you used the hips as an example. Yes?

Leave a comment