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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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PART 1 of 2


The following is the first half of Basic KWF Kihon by Mikio Yahara

(First published in 2007 in Gekkan Karatedo “Monthly Karate” (GK) Japan)


Translated by Yuko Kallender-Umezu and Paul Kallender-Umezu



Mikio Yahara, KWF



Basic Kihon: How Mikio Yahara Creates the Speed and Power to Create Certain Single- Blow Knockdown Attacks Using his Legendary Kaiten Waza (Spinning Techniques)


Gakkan Karatedo: As a competitor Mikio Yahara was known as a magnificent athlete, so what kind of techniques is this master focusing on today? In this article we take a look at the present power and performance of Mikio Yahara. In visiting the KWF, we were shocked by the incredible speed and power Yahara is capable of even today.


How I generate power is formed around the idea of how much you can generate and squeeze out of your body, tap its hidden power. So how do I do it? My answer is that it is possible if you can combine Kaiten (rotation/ spinning) and Kusshin (compression and explosive expansion)” says Yahara.


Gakkan Karatedo: The weight and solidity of a massive log, yet incredibly flexible, sinuous, supple…getting hit by Mikio Yahara seems a combination of both these features rolled into one smashing impact…


Sensei Yahara teaching the finer points of the use of the hips



Kihon Method 1: Kaiten: Using the Body’s Rotation to Create Power


What I teach in the Dojo is how to efficiently use the body’s power,” comments Yahara.


In fact there are two main methods; Kaiten (rotation) and Kusshin (compression and explosive expansion). If you use these correctly and efficiently, and if you combine them appropriately with the correct timing, you will be able to deliver huge amounts of power and speed.



So what are Kaiten and Shinshuku?


Of course these movements are intimately connected with each other but, first of all let’s take a look at Kaiten.” (Please take a look at photos 1-4).Here you can see what I would call an ordinary series of punches (using the arms and back and shoulders).” (Translator’s note: getting hit by these is like getting hit by bricks.)Of course these are certainly painful but you can’t really expect to knock down your opponent with a single blow. So, if you want to have the power to knock down/out your opponent with a single strike, what do you have to do?  This is where Kaiten comes in,” says Yahara.



Please look at the photos of Mikio Yahara photos 5-6


Here you can see correct hip rotation from perfect shomen to to-the-limit hanmi. Please note that there is basically nearly 180 degrees of linear rotational movement with the hips smoothly travelling to hanmi with the rear hip lower than the front, i.e. automatically creating compression on the rear leg, with the hip tucked in.”


“This should be performed in one clean, swift, efficient moment, so that the hips are storing up power that you want to release. This pushing to the limit is important because when you release the power to drive the punch, you can feel the surge of power through the punch.



Photos 7-8:


Says Yahara: “If you hit the torso with this sort of punch, you can immediately tell the difference and depth in power compared to an ordinary punch from the sound it makes. A punch not using kaiten seems to slap on the skin, but a power punch using kaiten makes a much deeper, heavier reverberating sound, that is because you are directing the power into the body, not just causing pain on the surface.



Correct Hip Squeeze and Compress to Correct Extreme Hanmi Photos 9-10:


If you screw and compress your body like a spring, you and your body naturally wants to spring back. That twisting and compression and then release are what I use to generate power in the punch.”



Koshi No Kaiten (Hip Rotation) for Gyaku-Tsuki Photos 11-15:


Therefore, the more you twist, the more power you compress, the more reactive power you store up.”


So the point becomes how far you can twist and compress and maintain balance and form, how far you can push yourself to the limit,” says Yahara.








Photos 16-17:


However, if you are twisting to the limit, especially if you are not used to this moment, you may feel your knee move like this, and if it does, it means that you are altering your vector, so it means that your power will veer off and away.”  (See photo 17)


Correct Front Knee Position


Photos 18-19:


So no matter how hard it might be for you in the beginning, you must keep your knee position (as in photos 18-19), i.e. don’t move your front knee and, rather, use the knee to solidify your shomen stance when you return.”



Makiwara Training Photos 20-23:

(20)In order to train yourself to generate the one-blow stopping power, Makiwara training is recommended and highly useful. Step one: rotate hips to 170 degree max, squeeze and compress upper body and lower body, pull hikite to the limit.


(21)Release tension and hasamikomu. Hasamikomu is extremely important; it means keep the squeeze and compression and the power inwards (for a slow motion example, remember Sanchin-dachi in Hangetsu).”



 (22-3)Release and impact.


Mikio Yahara with the makiwara


Kihon Method 2: Kusshin: Squeezing/ Compression and Explosive Expansion


Now let’s take a look at Kusshin


Translator’s note: In the Karate expression of the idea, Kusshin is made of two concepts:


(a)   Kutsu = compression &

(b)   Shin = explosive (reactive) expansion  



Photos 24-26 Basic Kusshin


Whenever you see your opponent coming in, pull back your front back and compress your rear leg but with heavy compression shifting weight on your back leg. However, never stick your rear out and always make sure to keep your balance forward with your mesen.”


Photos 26: Shin in Kusshin


Translator’s Note: Shin means explosive expansion of the rear leg driving the body forward but not up.


Gakkan Karatedo: It is difficult to see in the photo but Yahara Sensei’s Kusshin motion is incredibly fast, done in the blink of an eye and it looks like is whole body becomes one dynamic spring and jumps forward like a bullet.


Photos 27-28:


The point is that you must pull back your front leg but (in this case) the rear leg should not move back- if your balance is correct this will automatically mean that you are creating massive compression on the back leg. You should push this to the LIMIT! This means you have compressed the spring to your body’s maximum, so you can get maximum power, “ says Yahara






Always 70-30:


Remember in this practice to always maintain the weight ratio to 70-30.”



Photo 29:


One of the most critical mistakes made when compressing is letting the rear stick up- doing this automatically changes the vector of the compression (the spring) away from counter attacking the opponent to a horizontal-vertical vector, i.e. the power is going up into the air uselessly. It is important that you compress back and down the same vector that the punch is going to follow.”



Photo 30:


Another critical mistake people make is allowing the knee to move: again the compression vector has to be linear and follow the access back down the rear leg. Moving the knee automatically changes the vector, destroying the compression.”



Photos 31-35:


Please look at the balance and weight distribution dynamics of the front and rear legs and the vector of the posture: at any stage of the Kusshin, the weight in this example remains balanced 70 (front) 30 (rear).”


“You must keep your body vector, posture and composition: imagine you are a beast that is going to leap onto and kill your opponent; you are hunting your target. Once you have stabilized your hips and balance, not only punches or blocks, you will be able to react to any move or attack by your opponent efficiently and with poise.


Photos 36-39:


Here are bad examples of how NOT to move forward- for example moving the front leg first, therefore shifting the weight incorrectly, becoming inherently weak and off balance. If you do this, it is likely that a skilled opponent will be able to see you and attack you.”



Photos 40-42:


Here are the consequences of poor Kihon and incorrect weight balance: Incorrect posture will immediately signal an opportunity to a skilled opponent as shown in photos 40-42, leaving you weak and vulnerable to attack.”






Continuing Attacks Until Victory


Now lets see how we use this Kusshin motion to mount zenshin (moving forward) attacks in a series of attacks.”




Photos 43-44:


Here I am moving my back leg forward to generate forward Kusshin and once you have compressed to the limit, you release the power going forward.”


Photo 45:


Here is the explosive release of power from the back leg through the hips and using the correct posture of the body to generate power through to the punch. By coordinating explosive expansion along your back leg with your punch, you will automatically be generating a much more powerful punch than a hand punch and you can keep on following up using Kusshin against your opponent, reloading and firing.”


Photos 46-47:


Bad Examples: I sometimes see that some people once they finish the first attack they relax or loosen up. This is a major mistake. In your spirit your first attack must have the will to knock your opponent down with one blow- but I never say that you should not be prepared to follow through as necessary.”




Photos 48-49:


Even after your first attack you should maintain your attention and keep your weight distribution in your hips centered and be prepared physically and psychologically for the follow-up attack if or as necessary.”



Photo 50:


It is very important in your daily training to make sure you are always physically, mentally and psychologically prepared to deliver follow-up attacks as necessary.”


Now that you have an idea of Yahara Sensei’s basic movement, you will be able to challenge the Yahara Kaiten movement which is a one finishing blow attack! Please see Part II for details.



Photos 51-52:


These are as you can see regular defense and counterattack movements. Normally you block your opponent’s attack and then counterattack. However I don’t do this. I finish my opponent in an instant. I defend and attack in one motion.





Many Thanks to Yuko Kallender-Umezu and Paul Kallender-Umezu for translating this superb article. Thank you also to Gekkan Karate-Do for use of the material.