In recent years, a new way of moving forward in zenkutsu dachi has been established. For some commentators it is way too “sporty”. Others critizices it for its exagerated focus on leaning forward. We are going to present you the “sporty” version and contrast it with the modern approach to move forward in zenkutsu dachi taught by masters like Tatsuya Naka.
The Sporty Approach of Zenkutsu Dachi
The classical approach of moving forward in zenkutsu dachi has always focused in pull the back leg as close as possible to the front leg and from there to move it forward to the front.
In the new approach, on the other hand, not the legs innitiate the motion but the body center. The body shall be moved to the front in order to reach a tipping point. Behind this idea stands the conviction to let the own weight pull the rest of the body over the tipping point. This would save power and still create more speed.
The concept works best by bending the front knee through relaxation. Trough the relaxation the body enters a forward motion. This initiation works without utilizing power of the body. After the body center has crossed the tipping point the muscles in the legs become applied and generate extra speed and power.
Our friends from the Karate Dojo WaKu in Tokyo created an excellent explanatory video about this approach.
The Modern Approach
While the sporty approach indeed offers an efficient way of acceleration it also leads to an instable motion. It comes pretty close to “falling” forward. It sacrifices control for speed because the upper body leans too much to the front.
The classical approach, as far as tought by masters like Tatsuya Naka, combines the concept of relaxation with a strong focus of pulling the thighs together. Our advisory board member, Keigo Shimizu Sensei, explains this approach in the folling video. sent us the below video. Due to the fact, that he speaks Japanese in the video, we have here a brief translation for you:
“It is important to have the feeling that the thighs close during the step at all times. Not the feet execute the step but the thighs close and pass each other and accelerate together. Do not bring your feet together. If one masters this step it is possible to accelerate very fast and cross long-distances. To move fast and clean, the weight should not only lie on the front leg. The back leg has to be pulled to the front leg.”
The zenkutsu dachi step focuses more on pulling than on pushing. Due to that, both legs are engaged in the motion and the energy is directed to the front. This approach is a synergy of the classical and “sporty” step. It utilizes the energy that emerges through a relaxed front knee. But it combines it with a strong focus on an active back leg and a stable and coordinating body center. Through that it creates power and speed but also stability and security. Because for Keigo Sensei counts: “Kihon must work in Kumite. Kihon only for Kihon reasons is like a beauty contest.