“Look and Feel” – Part 1

“Look and Feel” in Karate Training – Part 1

Kihon (Basics)

Whether or not we train in front of a mirror, we all look at ourselves during our training; some people more than others. Watching what you are doing can help improve performance. But it can also detract from the idea of “feeling” the technique/movement, if we make it an unconscious habit. A combination of “looking” and “feeling” is probably best.

As I have mentioned before in one or two of my articles, the use of mirrors may be better for watching yourself than looking down to check your technique/movement. And the use of video or asking someone else to watch and give feedback is even better. The main reasons for this:
• Looking down to watch oneself can cause the neck to bend and/or body to tilt. We may also subconsciously correct the technique during the time it takes to glance down, creating an unrealistic understanding of what is actually going on. This can also cause a bad habit of looking down and/or tilting the head/body all the time, particularly detrimental during kumite training.
• When we look down at ourselves, we are usually just monitoring 1 or 2 aspects of our movement/technique. While it is not bad to focus on just 1 or 2 points, there may be more going on than one can see with a limited field/angle of vision.  By asking someone else to watch, or recording onto video, we can monitor several things, some of which we may not have considered when starting the exercise.

All of this visual monitoring can be helpful. But we should also be working on “feeling” our techniques/movements. Try closing your eyes sometimes while stationary or even while moving. Feel where all the body parts are, including the angle of the joints and the alignment of various parts of your body. Feel how all the muscles are being used and in what timing. Feel if you are off-balance or operating inefficiently.

Watch others in thier training. When you see them doing poorly, watch to see if you are making the same errors. But also feel if you are. Likewise, when you see someone performing something well, watch and feel to determine whether you are also doing it that way.

When you are certain you are doing something well, take the time and effort to solidify the good behavior/technique. Close your eyes and feel it and encourage your body and mind to memorize the position/movement.  Repeat until you can see and feel that it is getting better.

More on this subject in Part 2 and Part 3.

Copyright © 2022, Jon Keeling (originally published July 2005)