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Basic Body Shifting Pad Drill (video)

In this video we share a basic body-shifting pad-drill. All punches are done with the right-hand (or left when you do it from the opposite stance). The drill consists of one punch shifting backward, one punch on the spot, one lunging-punch stepping forward, and one reverse-punch stepping forward. We therefore have four right-hand punch variations in one quick drill.

One thing to note is that because the enemy’s arm has not been grabbed, your non-punching arm should be up and ready to work (not arbitrarily pulled back to the hip). Hikite (pulling hand / the hand on the hip in kata) is there to clear the enemy’s limbs out of the way of the target, and to locate the enemy via proprioception (holding them so you know where they are in the mess of the fight). We should never pull the hand to the hip if it is not performing one of these tasks i.e. it is empty.

The drill should also be performed in a flowing way. It should not be done with gaps or moments of stillness. It is not four motions; but one motion where the pads are hit four times. The “stances” are not fixed or to be held (as one would do in the learning stages) but instead they are flowed through, and adapted if required to ensure maximum impact for the given distance.

This idea is encapsulated in Gichin Funakoshi’s 17th precept: “Beginners use stances; advanced students use natural postures”. This does not refer to a change in practise where beginners use stances and advanced students abandon them in favour of something else. What it refers to is the “stances” of the beginners becoming the “natural body positions” of the more advanced student.

Genwa Nakasone wrote the following in Karate-Do Taikan when clarifying Funakoshi’s 17th precept: “Karate has many stances; it also has none.” It may seem like a paradox but it is not. Karate has no fixed postures; but we move through many postures as we move. In short, we do not move “to” the stances, but “through” the stances.

Genwa Nakasone (when clarifying Funakoshi’s 18th precept) also wrote, “Never be shackled by the rituals of kata but instead move freely according to the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses”. So there will be occasions where stances will need lengthened or shortened in order to get maximum impact.

We want to encourage body awareness and precision of movement when doing the solo kata; so the stances should be “exact” in kata. However, in application, the stances need to be an “exact fit” for the circumstances. Therefore, variation of the “formal stance”, as presented in the kata, in order to ensure maximum impact in a given set of circumstances is desirable. That is the traditional process.

This drill can help with the application of stances because it encourages fluid notion through the stances (not freeze-framing on them as one may do in the learning stage) and the adaptation of the stance to circumstance.

I hope you find the drill useful.

All the best,


PS There is more on stances in this article:

Practical Kata Bunkai: Basic Body Shifting Pad Drill