Words, Focus and Power in Karate

The Power of Words

When demonstrating combinations or forms, you may have heard students and instructors yell out the moves.

“Front punch, reverse punch!”

“Backfist, reverse punch, ridge hand!”

“Back-leg round kick, step-behind side kick, reverse punch!”

In a class some years back, I heard Master Macy tell the students to yell out the words: “speed, technique, power” as they did their moves. What does this accomplish?

Karate concentration.

First and foremost, it tightens concentration. When you say speed as you punch, your mind tells your body to punch fast; when you say power, you throw a powerful punch. Martial artists function fluidly, with nimble jabs and footwork or a surge of combinations, and this only happens when the mind and body work as one. Speaking the names of moves that you perform with your hands and feet helps this to happen.

At the same time, your body’s actions reinforce your words. If you just say speed, power, technique and then perform your punches, kicks and blocks slowly, weakly, poorly, it’s like sending your efforts into the wind, and your body takes note. When you speak with authority and then fire off a fast, powerful front kick, your action gives force to the word. It’s a crucial step on the way to mastery.

When I practice karate at home I make an effort to focus my mind by speaking the name of each move as I make it. I really can feel the energy flow between my mind and muscles and bones, and the learning of a new form or combo goes much faster. It sinks in.

Try it out when you’re practicing your combinations and forms.

See you soon!

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