Pretzels and Sticks…

A few weeks ago I shared with you a simple way to check the geometry of your student’s stances by using a stick, and I promised to share another way you can use a stick to help your students with their kata.

( I know I said I share this with you “next week” all those weeks ago, and now it’s been a month.  It wasn’t intentional to keep you waiting. It simply slipped my mind in all the craziness.)

Anyhow, here is an *extremely* easy way to get your students to get their angles and directions precise for their kata… but before we get to that, let’s talk briefly about the problem.

Let’s say a student has their left leg forward and has just made left oizuki (lunge punch) in zenkutsu dachi (forward stance). Let’s also assume the next move is a 90 degree turn to the left into the same stance with a downward block.

Have you ever noticed that beginners have the problem making the turn all the way? They might step across to their left with their left foot but only go about 75-80 degrees, and try to turn their body the full 90, ending up more twisted than a stale pretzel?

I’m sure you know what I mean, and it doesn’t matter how many times you explain that they must maintain width in their stance and avoid placing one foot in front of the other, some students just don’t get it. They have a hard time joining the dots between what you’re saying and what their body is doing.

So just use your bo staff to help them. Simply lay the staff on the ground at exactly 90 degrees to their first position and tell them that when they step, that their front foot must step to the other side of the stick. This gives your students a visual guide, plus also creates an obstacle to navigate with their step. It will help them pick up their feet and place them correctly.

Have your student practice their stepping for the particular move 10-20 times or however many repetitions it takes for them to get it right. Of course you can use this trick for any angle in any direction in any stance to ensure correct foot placement.

Try it out…

Until next time, keep using sticks on your students.

– Jason

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