Most people have no idea what Kihon is. Frankly, I do not expect you to know unless you participate in martial arts. It is is however, an important element of Karate (and martial arts in general).
So What is Kihon?
Essentially Kihon is the broken down form of Karate; this is your blocks and punches; your footwork and stances; your individual techniques and combinations.
Kihon teaches you the very basics of Karate through the repetition of the assigned techniques. Naturally, you start off practicing a single technique at a time. Through learning each of the individual techniques on their own, you can develop them accurately and correctly. As you progress, you will begin to tie more and more techniques together to create increasingly advanced combinations.
The principle of Kihon is to enhance the rest of your Karate. You develop your Karate by practicing techniques that you will typically use in the other elements of the martial art. Due to this practice, you will develop better control, balance, speed, power, and ultimately, a better technique.
What Techniques Will You Use?
You will not only use various punches, blocks, kicks, and strikes within your combinations, you will also train to adjust your feet accordingly to suit different stances.
Too many people focus on their upper body. It is in fact your lower body that will root you to the ground. It is this grip and opposing force that provides most of the power delivered by your arms. For this reason, Kihon is always performed in a stance with a specific purpose. Therefore you will not only develop the individual stances that you hold while performing techniques, but you will learn the footwork required to step, shuffle, and turn in each of these stances, and how you would do it from one stance into another too.
Kihon is frequently performed in one direction and tends to use the standard set of offensive and defensive techniques. However, in order to promote progress, this is always tailored to your grade and ability.
Therefore, as you rise through the belts you will begin to encounter the odd combination which will shift your focus to either side of you, or maybe even behind you. You may even find yourself performing a variety of unusual techniques that are often found in Katas, or to use variations of techniques that you have not previously practiced. While unexpected by most syllabuses, this is to only be somewhat expected of black belts. Although, this can be a good way to reinforce your knowledge of your current and previous katas, and keep you mentally flexible.
The Foundation of Karate
Kihon is probably the least popular part of Karate, but it has the biggest impact. Bad habits and mistakes are easier to spot due to its broken down form, and adjustments are easier to concentrate on. Despite the tedious appearance of Kihon, there are ways that it can be made to be more interesting. If available, you may find that your instructor allows you to practice a technique or combination on pads, or even against an opponent.
When doing this, it helps to take the impact-less drills and techniques and give them purpose, therefore bridging the gap into your sparring and performances.
As mentioned in the beginning, kihon directly reflects everything that you do within karate. It will teach you to combine techniques to fight, whether this is controlled sparring or in the streets. Kihon teaches you how to use techniques so that you can perform your katas correctly, as well as their bunkai / application. This is without even touching on the health and fitness benefits.
Ultimately, Kihon provides you with the essential techniques required to perform the rest of your Karate. There is no follow on from this as there is always room for practice and improvement. However, this affects all of your karate, and must be the best it can be to further your development in other areas.
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