Many people have these awesome ideas about what martial arts training will be like. Hitting a straw padded board with loud kiyas until your knuckles bleed, hours of fighting to hone one’s skills and more. Many of those ideas are found in Karate training but Kihon is the fundamental base that most people miss out on.
Kihon 基本 is a Japanese terms that represents basic, or fundamentals in Karate but it is also found in everything we do in life. Kihon is necessary to develop true self defense ability but is often overlooked by many students because they begin to think they no longer have to practice them to be perfect. I am the first to admit that spending hours per week throwing basic strikes and kicks doesn’t sound like as much fun as putting on the gear and banging it out in the dojo BUT they build your technique that you will need to survive an attack effectively.
From the earliest stages in our lives we begin learning Kihon. In order to walk we must learn the Kihon, practice it and repeat it over and over again before we can ever run. When a young school age child we learn the Kihon to making letters before we can ever understand how to put them together to form words and eventually sentences. That same Kihon in the process of learning to write is what enables an author to pen wonderful works of magic in the form of books, short stories or movie scripts. If we attempted to just skip over the Kihon of learning to write no one would be able to understand a single thing we were trying to explain. Karate Kihon is no different.
I have been to many tournaments, seminars and events where it was clear the emphasis was not on Kihon as I have watched black belts who had no idea of the mechanics behind how to punch correctly nor could they shift their weight to maximize the strike in their stances…but they could spar ok. When we first begin learning Karate the introduction is to Kihon. Front punch, reverse punch, front kick, side kick…repeat…repeat… While it may seem boring to many it is that very Kihon which builds your instant ability to strike with an overwhelming effective blow in a life or death situation.
Kihon is all around us. It is part of everything we do daily. If you were to get hired for a job and skipped the training (Kihon) you would not be able to do your job effectively. You get great at your skills in your job through repetitive practice on a daily basis. This is your study of Kihon in relation to your career. Karate training is no different. Kihon is that important and should never be dismissed thinking you have a punch so why do reps of it.
Just like Kata is the essence of Karate, Kihon is the essence of technique. Without studying your Kihon all aspects of your Karate will be terrible. Kata requires the very Kihon you are learning and repeating for hours on end. Kumite requires that same Kihon and without truly understanding it you will never be able to defend yourself. Kihon is like breathing…ignore it, don’t think about it and eventually your Karate will die.