Have you ever watched someone do a blinding fast Karate technique that looked picture perfect? The person moves so fast that you cannot find any mistakes in their form. What you might not see, when they are moving fast, is that they are hiding imperfections in their form.
Now lets watch that same person do the technique in slow motion. You might see that their starting hand position is not in the correct place or you might even see that they are executing the technique from the upper body only and they are not using their lower body at all.
Hard and fast Karate techniques might not always be correct
If you always do your kata and kihon techniques hard and fast, you can hide these little imperfections behind your speed and power.
We will use the side snap kick from Heian Nidan as an example. When you execute the side snap kick fast, there is a good chance that someone watching you will see the starting and ending positions only. You throw the kick, your back fist flys out and then you move into the next technique.
Slow it down
Now lets execute the same technique while moving very slowly and try to answer the following questions:
- Did you have good balance (correct) or did you wobble (incorrect) before throwing the kick?
- Did you bend your support leg (correct) or straighten (incorrect) it before the kick?
- Did your hips extend and retract from the side (correct) or did they stay level (incorrect) when executing the kick?
- Did you pull both hands tightly to the side of your body (correct) or were they loose and somewhere to the front of your body (incorrect)?
- Did you snap the kick all the way back before stepping down (correct) or did you fall into your next stance (incorrect)?
- Did you have good balance (correct) or were you wobbling (incorrect) after the kick?
- Did you keep your body upright (correct) or did you lean forward (incorrect) when executing the kick and backfist?
- Did you turn your head to the side (correct) or keep it forward when executing the kick and backfist?
- Did your draw hand stay on the side of your body, with your elbow pointing behind you (correct) or did it move forward (incorrect) when you executed the backfist?
- Did you snap your hand back (correct) or did you move your hand into the next technique (incorrect) after the back fist?
There are many more examples that I could add to the list above but the point I am trying to get across is, there are a many little details in every move we do and if we only do them fast, we will often miss them.
Take your time, do it right
It is often hard to do a technique slowly and something more painful is trying to do an entire kata slowly and perfectly but the more we explore the actual techniques while doing them correctly, the more complete and effective our movements will be.
Some people might argue that these little details aren’t important and that imperfect techniques are still effective enough but would you rather do good Karate or great Karate?