If there is one thing that drives us karate instructors insane, it’s trying to get some consistency across our classes, particularly with basics (kihon). Here are 2 simple exercises you can do in your classes to help your students with their stepping, stance posture and transitioning.
Have your students pair up and tie a belt between themselves, attaching the 3rd belt to their own so there is a distance of about 3 feet between each other. Now your students will face each other and distance themselves so the belt is tight. The objective is to step forward/backward from one side of the room and back again, keeping the belt taught.
The second exercise is very similar but this time instead of a belt tied between the students, they must balance a stick (bo, jo, etc) between themselves. This time the stick pushes against their tummies and they must tense their abs and try to develop some abdominal tension while stepping.
Now these 2 exercises seem almost identical, yes?
Well, yes and no.
They both help students work on posture, focus and transitioning. However they do it in different ways. In the first exercise the student who is stepping back must INITIATE in order to keep the belt tight. But in the second exercise that same student must RESPOND to their partner as the stick will drop if they move first.
Same deal vice versa for the student who is stepping forward. In the first exercise they must RESPOND to their partner and in the second they must INITIATE as the belt will flop or the stick will fall respectively.
Why is this important? Why the 2 versions? Both help students realize that their bodies should be held upright (and not leaned), but do it in different ways. And as individual students tend to hold themselves differently, these exercises help form some consistency across your class.
Try it out and post your comments!