Zui Ban – Accompany movement
This is another term to describe the importance of the body center in movement, but not just how strong is the center or core, but more the importance of training the nervous system to initiate all movement from the center out, to sequence the recruitment of muscles correctly.
When the body center (tan den in Japanese) moves, with intention to a certain direction, all parts of the body want to cooperate and move in the same direction. If the hand moves to certain direction, the rest of the body will not necessary cooperate and participate in the movement.
Therefore in karate we put our intention in the center, which is located 3 fingers under the belly button toward the spine, or if you like, in the sacrum between S1 and S2.
This has many benefits; very obviously we can produce more power since the bigger muscles of the trunk will initiate power production. Another important benefit is improved speed, especially in rotational movement which is most important in sport, and in life activities.
Since the diameter of the hips is about 5 times of that of the spine, if we initiate rotation from the muscles that attach to the spine, speed will increase greatly. We also know that karate is very complex, as movement is very complex, but in real application, in competition or in life activities, movement has to be in the subconscious level; no one walks in the street thinking how the abdominal muscles are lengthening as the foot touch the ground, and that the movement of the thigh bone should match the sacrum, we just want to get to where we are going to.
Therefore, putting the mind in the center is useful, since we don’t have to be conscious of what each part of the body is doing, there is one control center.
Of course, hand in hand with teaching how to move from the center, we teach many details, since most people come to karate with less than perfectly efficient body, and we do have to undo some habits, but the purpose of learning the details is to internalize and than forget.
The truth is that even having this one central control point is temporary, at the most advanced level there is intention and breath and the rest is done by itself.
This is an important training stage of going from conscious to subconscious. In the case of karate, if I think of my arm, my opponent will probably be able to read the information and my mind is not free, if, on the other hand, I put my mind in the center, the opponent cannot read my intention and any part of the body can freely extend the center when needed.
Kankei kei is another related term we use in Budo, it means the same as Zui Ban, but on the mental side.
Whatever direction the intention is, the body wants to follow, and the stronger the intention is the more muscles recruitment from throughout the body to the action.
Similarly, before we move, we make strong intention of unity, connection between the body center to the elbows and knees and we intent on balanced affect of the back and front muscles on the arms and legs.
Test show that if before a person bench press he visualizes strongly the action, he will be able to recruit more motor units and lift heavier.
Just the way that we physically try to achieve the most efficient mechanics of the movement, without extraneous or contradicting energies, also mentally, if our intention is not strong, muscle recruitment is going to be partial and the movement even sloppy, if we have doubt or hesitation. It is just like physically having a joint that is misaligned or muscle that work against the movement direction.
Tan which we refer to as center also means guts, bravery.
In other words moving from the center means also taking away hesitation, doubt and confusion and giving everything to one direction.
Moving from the center is also a mean of keeping stable emotions and strong spirit, as long as we judge and decide in our brain we cannot separate logic from emotion, and when there is to much going on for our brain to process in a short instant of being attack, that if we try to judge it, the reaction becomes disorganized and confused.