Senshin: The Enlightened Mind

Martial Arts Blog

normrobitza On July - 19 - 2013


Okay so we have a big misunderstanding here. A lot of people think Kime means power. Well not quite. There is a difference. I am going to try my best to explain the difference and tell you what makes for good Kime generated power.

First off, What is Kime? Kime is the power generated by tensing your entire body as you make contact with the target you are planning on striking. Here is the problem with this. People are tensing too soon and maintaining the tension for too long. Often Shotokan karate practitioners are told that they are rigid, robotic or stiff. This is because of holding that tension too long. If you hold this too long, you will already be tense for the next technique which will make you even slower.  This problem will grow exponentially as you continue with training.

People are associating Kime and power to closely together. They are thinking that by tensing up and making themselves stiff is creating power and thus good Kime. This actually is not good Kime, it is robotic and slow. Often you will hear your instructor say that you are “pushing” your techniques. I myself am guilty of “pushing”. I struggled with my Nidan test because of “pushing” my techniques and ultimately failed the exam under Master Yutaka Yaguchi. Luckily, I fixed the problem enough to pass the exam later that year and gain my Nidan. Now as a Yondan, I have a better understanding but still on occasion catch myself “pushing”.

What is “pushing”? Well think about throwing a beautiful gyaku zuki punch. You want to make it strong so you tighten up your muscles while throwing the technique. This is going to make the punch slow and stiff. The punch essentially is coming from your shoulder. The tension in your muscles will force the shoulder forward giving the punch the appearance of being pushed forward.¬†Ideally, you want your techniques to be like a whip. Relaxed throughout the motion but at the point of impact sharp and strong.

How do you fix this? It is a lot easier said than done, you have to…. RELAX!!! I know you may think that you are relaxed. What is in your mind and what you are physically doing are sometimes not the same. Relax your entire body, from your toes to your fingers. Just for an example, make a tight fist. Now feel your fore arm, the muscles are tense. Now relax your fist and check your fore arm again. What is the result? It is loose and relaxed. This is the first step to generating good kime power. We as instructors are guilty of perpetuating this misconception. We tell students to perform their techniques with speed and power but do not take the time to explain power clearly.

Now that you know that relaxation is the key let me explain something. Think about two students performing gyaku zuki. They are both finishing with 100% power which visually look wonderful. Now lets image that student#1 is perfectly relaxed he has about 20% tension in his entire body. Student #2 is stiff and already has 60% tension in his body. To achieve the 100% tension, they have to use kime. Student #1 will achieve a level of kime equal to 80 while student #2 is only achieving a kime level of 40. The first student’s punch will be sharp while the second student will look like he is “pushing” his punch.


To make your techniques stronger, you have to start off loose. For example, imagine any top notch kumite competitor. Ken Woon-A-Tai, the son of IKD Shuseki Shihan Frank Woon-A-Tai comes to mind. When Ken is sparring, he is loose and at ease during the match. When he throws a technique it is fast and sharp until it reaches the target. At that moment, he tenses his body multiplying the energy with a kiai. Then he returns to a loose and relaxed state immediately. If you remain stiff and clunky in a sparring match you will fall victim to a competitor that is relaxed.

Relax, is the key to good kime. You need to take all of the preconceived notions and flush them out of your mind. Empty your mind. Karate is a compilation of many things coming together. Mind and body works together as one. Part of the problem also lies in the fact that many people can not make mind and body merge. I suggest practicing in front of a mirror to watch your techniques and make sure that you are physically making the corrections instead of just thinking you are doing it correctly.

Categories: Teaching/Training

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