So a couple of weeks ago I told you about when somebody once told me to make rear leg mawashi geri it’s best to turn on the heel of the supporting leg.
I think we all agree that advice was absolute %$%3!
I then talked about my preference for turning on the balls of the feet for EVERY other transition (kihon and kata) as in my experience it gives more control and balance. However, I did discover one time when turning on the heel can actually be a good thing, and I promised to share that with you today.
I’m sure you’re familiar with at least some of the following kata:
- Pinan Godan / Heian Godan
- Kanku Sho
- Kosokun Shiho (Shiho Kosokun)
- Kokokun Dai / Kushanku
- Chatanyara Kushanku
Can you tell me what all of these kata have in common?
They all have a turn with a JUMP.
I’m not going to go into the purpose or bunkai of the jump as there are many interpretations, but typically the person performing the kata will do one of two things immediately preceding the jump.
- They take a small step with the launching leg to gain momentum to give height to the jump.
- They shift both legs, bend both knees and then jump, again to give height to the jump.
Take a look at these videos below and note the launching leg each time. First the Japanese team at the WKF World Champs performing the kata Empi. Watch at 1:25.
See the little step before the jump?
What about this one of Rika Usami in her instructional video, shifting BOTH legs before the jump? Watch the video at 5:13. You’ll have to watch it a few times to catch it, pause it to see. She moves both feet closer together before the jump, then takes a step to gain momentum!
Some time back someone asked me how to get height in the jump without taking the step?
I’m glad I’ve now got the answer. Check out this video from Jesse Enkamp of the Turkish team at the 21st WKF World Championships.
Watch at 1:08 and you’ll see both the guys on the left use a heel turn and the guy on the right seems to use the ball. Either way, nice clean jump.
Then watch again at 1:30 and you’ll see them all use the heel turn before the jump.
I like this because I like simple, clean and sharp karate. There is no extra step and no double leg shift. Just a simple, clean turn and jump using the HEEL as they pivot. And they get some serious air!
The reason this works so nicely is because the weight is not over the ball of the foot during the 180 pivot. The heel provides the swivel point which allows the ball of the foot to whip around and then make contact with the floor and launch the players into orbit. It gives the momentum without the need for the extra step.
(It’s a little different to Taikyoku kata in that the 180 deg turn goes counter clockwise, not clockwise, in which case I still prefer to use the ball during that time of 180 turn.)
Pretty neat, huh?
Nice one Turkish Team!
Finally I just found this one of the female Serbian Team doing Unsu. This is really nice. No noticeable heel turn, or ball of the foot turn. Very clean. Watch at around 2:45.
So there you have it… there are times to use the heel and times to use the ball of the foot.
Like the old adage says, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”
(Weird visual – who thought of that anyway?)
Until next time…