by Sensei Neil Prime
May, 1996

Each and everyone of us has a range of techniques that work for them and certain techniques thatno matter how much they work at, just don't seem to work at all. It is very important to realizewhy this is. Sometimes is just a matter of not doing the proper moves in the order of sequencethat they should be performed. Sometimes it is because of our physical limitations and we simplycan't make our body do what someone else finds rather natural. What ever the case may be, itdoesn't necessarily mean give it up. What we should be doing is trying to make this particulartechnique work for us in a manner that it can be effective for ourselves.

The first of the two scenarios is fairly easy to correct. Break down the technique slowly and youshould be able (sometimes with the help of a watchful eye) to determine what it is about thetechnique that is giving you a hard time. Once you have ironed out the problem area(s) thetechnique should be easier to execute.

Although this sounds simple, never overlook the value of breaking each individual technique andbe able to perform them well at a slow pace. What usually happens is when you speed up yourtechniques, your form suffers. This is usually because most of us try to over compensate ourtechnical abilities with strength rather than execute the technique with precision and speed, whenthis is the real reason why any technique will accomplish what it is set out to do in the firstplace.

The second scenario is something totally different. If you can not do something because ofphysical limitations you have to approach a solution from a different angle. Eg. Once upon atime, when I was just a wee karateka, the teaching sensei started working double kickingtechniques. The combination consisted of a low side kick (fumakomi yoko geri) and a high roundhouse (jodan mawashi geri). I became an instantly enthusiastic with this technique and I practisedand practised. The thing about this technique though was that while I was practising I was notextending my set up kick so by the time I was trying to get to the mawashi, I was being trampledwith a series of techniques from my opponent and I couldn't easily defend myself because I wasin the middle of my kick with little balance.

After reviewing my intentions with another sensei, it was pointed out where my problem lay.Now that I knew about this I thought it was going to be honky dory from that point on and thiskick that the original sensei showed my was now going to be a part of my offensive arsenal.


No matter how hard I tried I couldn't effectively work this technique, but I was stubborn (I stillam). I was going to make this work. I started playing with this kicking combination. First Iwould do a really hard but slow yoko geri and then a snappy mawashi. Then I would change thecombination to a front kick (mae geri) and add the mawashi. I found by doing a mae geri fromthe back leg I could get my opponent moving. This was good because it then gave me time toexecute my mawashi without being knocked off my feet. Eventually I started to follow my opponent with the mawashi and this proved to be even more successful. Then I started to shortenthe front kick because I was become over anxious to score with the mawashi.

AAAARG! Back to the drawing board.

How could I get the mawashi to work without making my opponent to run away from my frontkick?

I now do this same combination with 2 variations. I either slow the mae geri down to a pointwhere my opponent is confidant enough that he can block it or jam it and he will either drop hishands and wait for the kick or drop his hands and charge me. If he doesn't drop his hands themae geri will score, leaving my combination unrevealed and available for surprise attack nexttime.

The other variable would be to not execute the mae geri, but to thrust my knee forward as if todo a mae geri and at the last second turn my hip over and do a mawashi creating the same effectas the first but being able to perform the same technique on a more aggressive opponent becauseit is much faster.

This combination is one of the most effective tools in my weaponry and it started by trying todo something that I couldn't do properly. The key here is that you won't be able to do eachtechnique exactly like the next person so you have to use your imagination and stay within yourphysical limitations to execute techniques that work well for you. If we are working on mawashigeri and you can't kick to the head, there is nothing stopping you from doing a really goodmawashi to the mid section or if that is too high, the upper thigh or knees.

Don't give up on something because it seems hard when you first start. If you can't do it oneway, try it your way and it might turn out to be something really good!

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