I've had some recent revelations in my karate practice that I felt I had to share as I thought others might benefit from my recent experiences and I like to share whatever I can for those who are interested.
My first experience is around the impact of shoulders in punching. For years sensei after sensei have told me to relax my shoulders and for years and years I tried to relax my shoulders and I had honestly thought that I had learned to relax my shoulders. How little did I know.
Back in September I had the opportunity to attend a clinic in Saint John New Brunswick where Sensei Higashi and Sensei Tsuruoka were instructing. Sensei Higashi is a wonderful instructor and over the years I have enjoyed each and every opportunity I have had to study with him. He too is one of the people who reminded me to relax my shoulders when punching.
Sensei Tsuruoka reiterated the message during the September clinic, however, he had a different way of explaining how to relax your shoulders and for whatever reason, it clicked for me. He demonstrated by pushing his fingertips to the floor and then while continuing to extend his fingertips he raised his arm into a punching position. This separated the shoulder from the equation and when I tried it there was a very distinctive feeling to it. I could really feel the increased strength and stability in the hand position. Now as I practice my kata I work to find that feeling. I don't get it every time but I can find it more often each and every time I practice.
There are two lessons that I've taken away from this experience. Lesson number one is the obvious one about how to punch in a way that maximizes the power of the technique. Lesson number two is that it is important to learn as much as you can from as many different places as possible as you never know who, where, or how you will pick up an important lesson. Maybe a lesson you weren't ready to learn before or maybe because it is demonstrated in just a slightly different way.