Moving from your center

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Moving from your center

Postby Dana Sheets » Fri Oct 20, 2006 3:16 pm

Moving from your center is, I think, the heart of Uechi and most any martial art. I think it is also one of the most difficult things to accomplish consistently as I was reminded of once again this past Saturday.

One day I'm rooted and fluid in all my movements like a red sequoia crossed with a tidal wave. The next I feel about as stable as a cat in a moonbounce. It is the inconsistency that's the nuisance. If I could just be that tidal wave with every movement...

Once again - I think this particularly important for women because if we don't have our hips/waists moving with us, then we just don't have much of a chance without an equalizer of some kind.

So below are the drills that come to mind that have helped over at one time or another and I hope you'll have some to share as well.

sanchin stepping with someone giving you resistance from the front or back
-putting a bo on your belly and the other end on your partner's a stepping up & down the floor without letting the bo drop.
-someone grabs your ankles and you pull them along
-someone puts a fist or two in your stomach and you step against their resistance
-someone grabs onto your belt from behind or in front and you step forward or backwards with their resistance

Less basic:
uechi horse stance stepping with resistance - get into horse stance and have someone grab your belt and offer resistance. First work on forward or backwards, then work on the transition steps that angle off in all directions, 45 degrees, 90 degrees, 180, 270, and the ones in between.

With toys and technology:
if you can get your hands on resistance bands then you can do this work with or without a partner.

Tie one end of the band to a tree or pole and the to yourself. Now do all your stepping exercises and transitions placing the resistance at varying directions.

Least basic:
Least basic for me, right now, are the transitions between the transitions
Going from sanchin, turning, ending in a cat stance, turning, going into a horse stance, turning. Bigger turns and smaller turns that end in various stances.

For this type of training first move without resistance. So you'll start in sanchin and step, then turn 45 degrees and end in a cat stance, then turn and end in a forward learning uechi horse, step off the line into a cat, pivot and drive off into sanchin, pivot 270 degrees and drive into an upright uechi horse, move from an upright horse facing one direction to another upright horse in a different direction...and on an on.
Basically take all your stances and your tenshin stepping and shake 'em up together like you're playing yatzee then roll 'em out and move through at least 7 transitions at a time. When you can get through 7, move to 12, after 12 move to 36, etc.

Wearing a weight vest for any of these exercises helps me because it exaggerates when I get out of balance with myself.
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I Agree

Postby Robb in Sacramento » Sun Oct 29, 2006 7:04 pm


I thought there would be more responses to this post, but maybe it is so axiomatic that one must move from the center that it prompted as little attention as noting one must also breath. But you would think with all the discussion we have on how to breath, moving from the center would also generate more replies.

With the exception of using the bo, I like your exercises. I know some instructors and students find using the bo on the belly to be helpful, but I am always so paranoid about potential injury with the exercise that I would only use it with very trusted training partners.

The use of the belt though, is one we do frequently. Our version, which we stole from Shotokan (the sincerest form of flattery, I believe) has us using the full length of the belt. We tie the belt, and unwrap it. With our belt against our centers, and our partners holding the tips of the belt behind us, we practice stepping and technique. The partner holding the belt can practice San Chin (similar to working the training jars) and also monitors to insure we are not cheating and leaning in or moving from our shoulders. Occasionally, I will also hold a kicking bag or other target in front of the person doing the stepping so they can move from the center against resistance and also try and hit or kick something.

My friend Joan generally ends her class with a vigorous session of abdominal exercises. She also does a variation of arm rubbing to focus on the center.

If you have a copy of the infamous film by Charles Earle, you can also watch the arm pounding being done at Wakayama and try that as a centering exercise. When we are feeling particularly young and indestructible, we like to add that exercise to our regular arm rubbing and pounding.

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Postby Dana Sheets » Wed Nov 01, 2006 3:11 pm

Hi Robb,

For the bo - we happen to have the larger bo with the very rounded tip. We have only one of the traditional tapered bo - when we use that one I tell people to place the end on their belt knot. But yes - there is some risk there - especially if the training turns too competitive.

Perhaps a better question would be "how do you know when a student is moving from their center?" sanchin and out of cat stance and out of kiba dachi
...for a wauke
...for a strike or kick
...for a sweep, lock(break), throw, or take-down yakosuko bunkai oyo bunaki yakosuko kumite jiyu kumite

It is absolutely more than just good posture and it is not moving like Frankenstein.

One of the early trainings that I think helps is when students do the partner wauke exercise with each other - first in a stationary stance and then with sliding or stepping. However if two new students do this together it turns into a wacky kind of arm wrestling. So when possible I try to pair newer students with more experienced students.

I think sometimes we give lip service to "moving from your hara/center" without focusing on what that means in places other than sanchin stepping.

Occasionally, I will also hold a kicking bag or other target in front of the person doing the stepping so they can move from the center against resistance and also try and hit or kick something.

That's a good one.

For the upper level kata movements - I find some moves more difficult than others to do from the center including:
-shoken scooping movement & toss/strike
When Jim Maloney did his Sanseiryu at camp a few years back he showed dynamic and explosive movement in this technique. What he did captures of the feeling of what I'd like to be able to do without taking both feet off the ground. I just don't have enough mass to risk lifting up the way he can. I need the support of the ground to help me bear the body weight at the moment when you beak the balance.

-the step backwards after the kakushiken and leg raise.
The version shown by some is do just step back, steop - and then do the leg raise. Some just step back. Still others move continuously through to the end of the form, stepping back, raising the leg, and stepping into neutral.
For this one the timing has quite a bit to do with what you're doing at the time - however no matter what I'm doing in my head I find this sequence to be particularly challenging.

One of the best ways I found for me to show myself where I weakest in moving from my center when I'm training alone is to do my kata mirror image.

Since this is a training I only do every few weeks I can quickly feel where a movement is less rooted.
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Postby Dana Sheets » Sun Nov 05, 2006 3:59 pm

Attended a wonderful seminar yesterday with James and Hideko Thompson up at Ernie Sumpter's dojo in Philly.

The first hour of the seminar focused on a number of drills to help you move from your center. Yahoo! From still standing and breathing to crescent kicks.

Then a good part of the day was spent on hitting each other in natural, quickly linked combos. He emphasised over and over the need for movements to be natural, that intent formed clearly in the mind will affect how the body performs, and that you need to be relaxed in order to move.

Today I'm tired, sore, and happy.
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Drills get point across

Postby CANDANeh » Sun Nov 05, 2006 8:47 pm

I hope you'll have some to share as well.

One person has 3 karate belts looped through his/hers_ The resistance depends on if your going forward or stepping off to sides etc. The resistance is much like a leash and at times the holder(s) let the loop(s) slip through by letting go of one of the ends to check if your leaning instead of moving via center ...this can occur from any of the 3 directions. This seems to work well and games can be initiated esp. with children to help move with center such as going after a slowly rolling beach ball to kick.
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Postby Dana Sheets » Thu Nov 16, 2006 9:51 pm

I'll repost here one that was shown to me by Mr. Takara.

Anchor one end of a rubber resistance band or tube. Grab the other end and with resistance do your strikes, your "blocks", your kicks, etc. In judo we used to do the same thing with a tree. We're wrap the band around the tree and practice pulling to off-balance.

The greater the resistance - the more likely you'll feel when you shift off-balance which means you're not moving from your center.

So make the exercise more difficult use greater resistance and/or close your eyes.
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Postby Dana Sheets » Fri Dec 22, 2006 4:36 pm

So earlier this week to help some shodans work on moving from their center, a visiting local uechi-ka asked them to to their hands on their dan tien, close their eyes, and do only the stepping portion of Seiryu.

Sometimes we need to be inside before we can worry about what's outside.

Last night I worked with someone I haven't seen for a few years - at the end of the workout to cool down we did mirror image kata - which he'd never done. He was noticeably surprised at the lack of power in his left elbow strike in kanshiwa, that he lost his balance during a move in kanshu, and that his body nearly refused to do the long stance hasami movement in sanseiryu with his hands in the opposite position.

When we take our familiar movements and use them in unfamiliar patterns it is interested to see what happens. For me - it often means that I have more difficultly concentrating and that I'm not as fluid in my something to work on.
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