This Guest Post is by one of the adult students in our dojo (Hikari Dojo), Peerawut Kamlang-ek. He has trained with us for about two years. He is currently at Army Officer Candidate School on the mainland.
Early last year I was first exposed to the concept of compressing and decompressing our body, a technique in the Kishaba-Juku style which allows us to maximize the speed of our movements.
In one class Sensei compared the basics of compressing our body to holding a very big ball (Imagine the big bouncy ones we find at toy stores).
We held this imaginary ball close to our bodies in front of us with our arms parallel to the ground, elbows close to our bodies, and act as if we were pressing on the ball.
In the meantime we also press our shoulders down by squeezing our lats. The lower portion of our body presses up by tucking our koshi in order to tie our whole body together through compression.
From there, we kept our bodies compressed until we decompressed and threw a block or punch. The decompression combined with correct usage of koshi allows freedom of movement in any direction while also maximizing the speed of our block or punch.
When practicing on my own, I sometimes exaggerate the squeezing portion of the imaginary ball exercise so that I am more certain of the feeling of compressing. The compressed feeling on my body is almost like a buffer spring in a machine gun where the spring is pushed together so tight that it is dangerous to let it go in the direction of someone or something.
I can honestly say that since that class I have been squeezing my lats every single day. I could be waiting in a line, on the computer, or watching TV while practicing with the ultimate goal of keeping the feeling of compressing fresh in my mind and body.
The past three months and counting I've been training at Officer Candidate School which is very far away from our dojo, giving very minimal time to learn and practice Karate. However, I still squeeze my lats, practice the imaginary ball exercise, or practice a movement when I can, and found it to be useful in memorizing the feeling of compressing my body.
Time might not always be on our side but we can always do what we can to improve our Karate.