Main Principles of Traditional Karate and technical applications

I want to thank Clóvis Ravagnani Sensei for sending me this information, which is a very good study material. I hope everyone enjoys reading.

Quero agradecer ao Clóvis Ravagnani Sensei por me enviar esta informação, que é um material de estudo muito bom. Espero que todos gostem de ler.

Quiero agradecer a Clóvis Ravagnani Sensei por enviarme esta información, la que es un muy buen material de estudio. Espero que todos disfruten de la lectura.




  1. Traditional Karate principles are transmitted today from the study of KATA. Underlying KATA are the fundamentals of BUDO with its long traditions as developed in Japan.
  2. Many masters have contributed their knowledge and experience to the development and refinement of our martial art. The outward manifestation of this knowledge is seen in KATA. From seeking to fully understanding KATA from the outside we can therefore begin to understand the essential principles that lie within.
  3. Just as many different BUDO martial arts teachers study the discipline, there are many interpretations of the Traditional Karate principles and their applications.
  4. Only when the principles are actively applied to the physical techniques of KATA and KUMITE and daily training, do they have true value. If the fundamental principles are ignored, the results of training are only superficial and the participants never fully assimilate the inner meaning. In addition, by practicing incorrect and unnatural movements, the athlete can cause physical harm to the body.
  5. The same underlying principles that we receive from Traditional Karate can be seen within the development of other physical disciplines and sports systems.
  6. This text is a guide to the application of Traditional Karate’s underlying principles to its techniques.

PART 1: MAIN PRINCIPLES OF KATA and Applications to Techniques

    1. Posture
      Keep the body’s axis extended through the body’s center of gravity and further extended through the supporting surface.
      * The maintaining of this body alignment perpendicular to the floor provides the most efficient body control.
    2. MESEN (eye line)
      Maintain direct line connection from face and eyes toward the opponent.
      * This provides most efficient means of directing body movement.
    3. Stable Emotions
      * Provides for smooth body movement, clear decision-making and proper reaction
    4. Charging Body with KI Power
      * Develops energy for movement and acceleration as well as overcoming opponent.
    5. Muscle Control Through Proper Breathing
      The means by which maximum power can be delivered by one’s muscles

      1. Power provided by muscle contraction is a result of exhalation
      2. Power is also provided by release of muscle compression/expansion by use of exhalation.
    6. Using External Force
      If there is no external force, one cannot increase energy. Also, one cannot shift center of gravity. External force is reaction force using internal force (one’s own body power) and giving pressure to stationary object (like floor, ground, wall, etc.)

      1. Body Movement
        While the body moves as a result of its musculature, the continued pressure exerted toward the supporting surface, combined with exhalation, together produce power.
      2. Final Power – KIME
        The acceleration of gravity through the compression downward of the stomach muscles creates the maximum pressure toward the floor. This combined with the External Force reaction makes the Final Power – KIME.
    7. Accumulation of Power by Body Movement
      Each component of body movement is accelerated to its maximum potential at which time the next body component begins its acceleration to maximum and thus all elements combine to provide the total effect (as in continuous transmission from leg, to hip, to shoulder, to elbow, and finally to wrist)
    8. Impact (Shocking Power)
      Impact value is in inverse proportion to the time expended in the delivery of the technique. Shorter delivery time and thus greater impact is a function of the contraction of the total body musculature wherein the body becomes «steel» for the briefest of instants
    1. Condition of TACHI (Stance)                                                                                                                          
      1. Proper structure for technique.
      2. Both soles gripping the floor (except for certain stances)
      3. Low center of gravity.
      4. Center of gravity balanced equally between both legs.
        * The positioning of the center of gravity is affected by the direction of pressure to the floor
      5. Hip line parallel to floor (not tilting)
      6. Largest action space for hips
      7. Strong connection between legs, hips, etc
      8. A key point when in an stance is to maintain pressure to the floor.
    2. Body Movements for making power
      1. Rotation
      2. Shifting
      3. Vibration
      4. Lifting
      5. Dropping
      6. Pendulum
    3. Timing of Body Movement for Accumulation of Power
      1. Hand technique
        Floor—Leg—Hip—Trunk—Shoulder—Elbow—Contact Area
      2. Kicking technique
        Floor—Supporting Leg—Hip/Knee—Contact Area
        Note: Joint movement always directed toward center
    4. Sequence of Technique
      1. Hand technique
        1. Preparation
          1. Pressure to Floor.
          2. Transfer pressure from stomach muscles to back (by directing exhale to oneself)
          3. KI energy shooting to opponent.
        2. Driving
          Use sharp hip action and powerful contraction of the body muscles specifically around the body center followed by a sharp expansion and forward motion to deliver the technique combined with a sharp exhalation of breath (KIAI)
        3. Increase energy
          1. Increase speed
          2. Final stage of arm action requires quick rotation of forearm (with elbow center)
            Note: In the case of uchi waza, add snap or twisting for wrist depending on technique (no snap back)
        4. KIME
          1. Use strong exhalation using stomach muscle compression toward floor, then using that reaction from floor to generate maximum momentum in delivery of technique. Maintain pressure to floor and do not bounce.
          2. Maintain pressure to floor and at the same time continue contraction from floor though the line of delivery of the technique.
          3. Maximum muscle contraction toward target in cases requiring shocking power, through use of sharp, strong, total body contraction.
            Remark: When delivering a «shock» technique, utilize total body musculature contraction at moment of impact thus tuming body momentarily to «steel.
        5. Kicking Techniques
          1. Preparation
            1. Maintain pressure to floor by supporting leg.
            2. Mentally envision power directed («Ki») to target
          2. Initiating Technique
            Extend KI power toward target, maintain pressure to floor via supporting leg, then combining stomach muscle contraction and pendulum action of hips sharply bring supporting leg upwards at same time bending kicking knee.
          3. Increasing energy
            1. Accelerate hip movement.
            2. Add either knee snap or thrust (depending on kick)
          4. KIME
            1. When technique reaches target, extend ki (using exhalation) and maintain pressure to floor.
            2. After reaching target, quickly retract hip using lower stomach muscles and while still exhaling turn breath back to yourself at same time quickly bringing back the kicking leg.
            3. After returning the leg, again establish supporting leg pressure back to the floor in preparation for next technique
              Remark: When withdrawing the kicking leg, don’t drop knee until the initiation of the next technique.
          5. Body Shifting (UN-SOKU)
            1. Shifting
              1. While the supporting leg contracts downward to floor, other leg squeezes upward utilizing stomach muscles focused from body’s center of gravity.
              2. ​Though the pressure exerted downward by the supporting leg, a reaction is created whereby the drives forward, accelerated by the compressed force generated by the supporting leg.
                At this moment, body shifting takes place.
                * YORI-ASHI (Sliding)
                * FUMI-ASHI (Stepping)
            2. Continuous Shifting
              ​As the leading leg releases connection to floor, the energy is delivered to the supporting leg which then again switches the force forward, thus allowing for continuous shifting.
            3. UKIMI (floating)
              As one squeezes leg upward into body, and releasing foot pressure to the floor, body is then able to control movement and direction.
              Remarks: Feeling is like gliding on thin sheet of ice, but with control.
          6. Combinations of Techniques (RENSOKU-WAZA)
            1. Always maintain both eye and KI power and KIAI contact with opponent.
            2. After completing one technique, don’t discontinue breathing but maintain unbroken exhalation and focusing of KI power toward opponent for next technique of combination.
            3. After the completion of a technique, don’t lose connection to next technique. Maintain contraction and pressure to floor in order to flow into next technique.
            4. After completion of the last technique of a combination, maintain eye contact and KI focus on opponent (and maintain either vocalized or silent KIAI in preparation for another technique if necessary)


  1. KAMAE (Ready Position)
    1. ​Maintain stable emotions
    2. Charge with KI energy
    3. METSEKE (Eye position)
      Maintain «looking eye» feeling toward opponent.
      Remarks: With sense of eyes «pulled back» into head, one sees the total view of the opponent rather than fixating on one point («Toyam no Metsuke»)
      Remarks:From center of eyes gain feeling for total intention of opponent. («Tani no Metsuke”)
    4. Project one’s «Ki» energy toward opponent.
    5. MIKIRI – estimate opponent’s mental and physical movement.
    6. Strategy
    7. MA-AI – adjust optimum distance
    8. Then give direction to body movement.
    9. During KAMAE, adjust breathing so that KIAI is possible at any moment.
  2. Reaction
    It is connected to breathing reaction rather than eye/mind reaction.
  3. KYO and JITSU
    1. JITSU
      Mental + physical condition at maximum state of readiness and combined together
    2. KYO
      The state of imbalance of the mental/physical condition
  4. Initiating Technique
    Best time to execute a technique is when opponent is in state of KYO.
    KYO occurs when:

    1. When opponent mentally or physically moves
    2. During time between an opponent’s techniques.
    3. At the precise moment an opponent ends or stops his technique
    4. When opponent’s physical or mental balance is destroyed
    5. When opponent’s mind sticks to one point or aspect: SHI-SHIN
    6. When opponent loses spirit.
    7. When opponent loses mental control, for example over-excitement
  5. Technique
      Eye first, feet second, spirit/courage then power/technique fourth – Traditional martial arts proverb.
      KI – Mind and Technique/power must be blended together.
    3. HOH-SHIN
      Giving 100% to technique with no hesitation or doubt
    4. ZANSHIN
  6. Timing
    1. KAKE WAZA (charging without opponent’s attack)
      Executing technique at the instant of detecting opponent’s KYO
    2. OJI WAZA (response to opponent’s attack)
      During opponent’s attack, detecting kyo and executing counter technique.

      1. SEN (start of opponent’s attack)
        Catching opponent in state of «Kyo» at the initiation of attack.

        1. KAKE no SEN (pre-physical movement)
          Executing technique upon sensing opponent’s mental commiment just before initiating his attack.
        2. TAI no SEN (physical movement)
          Executing technique when detecting KYO upon opponent’s initial physical movement to attack.
      2. GO no SEN (after opponent’s attack)
        Executing technique end of opponent’s attack in between attacking techniques or catching and blocking initial attack before next attack begins.
    3. SHIKAKE WAZA («Set-up» techniques)
      Making KYO without waiting for opponent’s movement. There are 3 basic types:

      1. SASOI WAZA («Inviting» technique)
        Then use «Sen» or Sen» timing to counter
      2. KUZUSHI WAZA (breaking balance technique)
        Breaking balance by sweeping foot, etc., making KYO, followed by finishing technique.
      3. RENZOKU KOGEKI WAZA (continuing attack technique)
        Making KYO by breaking opponent’s mental and physical balance with continuous attacks.


ITKF – «Main Principles of Traditional Karate and technical applications» by Hidetaka NISHIYAMA, september 2001

Fuente: https://karate-traditional.com/resurse/principii-de-karate-traditional-si-aplicatii-tehnice-hidetaka-nishiyama

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