November 30, 2020

Karate 4 Life
Karate 4 Life
Basic #4 - RIKI (力)Technique/Power

In the episode we going to wrap up our mini-series about ichi gan, ni soku, san tan, shi riki as we take a deeper look into the forth and final element riki: technique & power.

The forth element, is literally power, but is often referred to as technique. This alludes to the fact that real power is created from correct technique, rather than physical strength.

This final principle relies on the correct application of the preceding principles first, without proper use of eyes, legs & attitude, the opportunity to generate natural power through correct technique is lost.

—- Transcript —-

Martin: Hey everyone, this is Martin & Sandra Phillips and welcome back to the Karate 4 Life Podcast.

Sandra: Today we want to dig a bit deeper into the basics of karate and life

Martin: …taking a closer look at the forth and final element of ichi gan, ni soku, san tan, shi riki – technique and power.

We’ve noticed that everyone faces challenges in life, some big some small. But not everyone has a way to navigate these problems.

Sandra: It’s not always easy, but we’ve found that we always keep coming back to what we’ve learned from our years in the dojo.

Martin: And that’s what this podcast is all about…

Sandra: Helping us all find the solutions to life’s problems. Or even better yet, to remove the problems before they arise.

Martin: This is Martin & Sandra Phillips and welcome to the Karate 4 Life Podcast.

Sandra: Getting a bit excited today, Martin, as we come to a close with our Ichi Gan Ni Soku San Tan Shi Riki series. How are you feeling about this?

Martin: It’s really good to get it wrapped up. It’s been a bit of a mission, hasn’t it, to get through all of these? It’s quite a lot of ground we’ve covered.

Sandra: There’s been some great feedback though. It’s really been helping some people in their dōjō but also in their lives as well. We’re learning that quite a few people are also having chats with their kids about this sort of stuff.

Martin: Yes, it’s really good to see how especially the parents, they listen to this and they take it in themselves as the parents of the training course, they take it in themselves and they’re sharing with their kids and it’s creating a bit of a conversation point. This is what we’re doing this for in the first place is to hopefully get a bit of that happening.

Sandra: Yes, it’s fantastic, isn’t it? Well, look, let’s just get ourselves moving into this last episode for this particular series and see how we go.

Martin: Ichi Gan Ni Soku San Tan Shi Riki. What’s the saying Soke’s Kyohon (Soke’s teaching manual)?

Sandra: We have Riki is technique. “Through diligent training of Kata and Kumite, technique will develop naturally.”

Now I know this disturbs you just a little bit. Do you want to share why it disturbs you certainly it gets you questioning?

Martin: I’m always a little bit disturbed by this but it’s okay, that’s a good thing.

Sandra: It gets you thinking deeply.

Martin: It makes me think and I love that, I love that. Again, the character that’s used to describe this Riki is literally power and yet in that description there, there’s no description of power at all and I asked myself that question if the character says power, why are we not talking about power? This is technique, we’re talking about technique. I did come up with a bit of an answer to this but I don’t know you….

Sandra: Yes, but I mean we’re having a chat a bit earlier as well and we both reflected on our journeys. We both agreed that when we first started our training, we focused on trying to be really powerful and being strong.

Martin: That’s the mistake that everybody makes, if the focus is on power, yes through the process of developing good technique you will generate natural power and that’s the goal. If you focus on developing power, most people will misinterpret that and think physical strength which is the opposite of what we’re trying to do. As we say in training we see so many people far more advanced than us that are able to generate incredible power and yet they have such small bodies.

Sandra: It’s a very natural power, isn’t it?

Martin: Yes, natural power and that’s the way I like to describe it, looking at natural power as opposed to physical strength.

Sandra: Yes and so this power I guess in our training and as you’ve just said we have people who are way ahead of us doing this. We’re quite young on our journeys really with this but in our experience so far, we can both say that once we flipped it on the head and we stopped focusing on trying to be powerful and we went back to Ichi Gan Ni Soku San Tan and we went through that process, and we layered that continually over and over and over again, going deeper and deeper, we naturally found more power.

Martin: Through the practice and study of technique. I guess that’s why this fourth one, one way that I’ll have this described to me that Shi Riki, the fourth element being technique is all those little things that make things work.

Sandra: When you get back into life, it’s the little things in life which make a big difference. If you do them.

Martin: Yes, that’s one that you love to talk about all the time.

Sandra: I do when it comes to you.

Martin: What are you trying to say?

Sandra: No, it’s good. For those who are listening and who of course do practice karate, for our personal experiences and we can only speak for ourselves of course. If you do move forward with your journey and you have experienced the thought of, “I just want to be more powerful and get more physically stronger,” and you trained with that mindset, it’ll only get you so far potentially.

Martin: You’ll hit a wall really really quickly.

Sandra: There’s a ceiling on that.

Martin: You’ll hit your limit. That’s why we’re going, as I say, through that process, go through those elements. First, the eyes Ichi Gan, second is stance Ni Soku, San tan, develop that spirit, that guts and determination and then we will get the technique which is getting your body in the right position.

Sandra: Don’t you think the most exciting thing of this, is it just me? I love application. When you go through this cycle time and time again, you go deeper. Ichi Gan Ni Soku San Tan and Shi Riki you get more effective in your application in being able to do your application while I guess all different bodies. For me, that’s quite exciting. How about you?

Martin: Yes, absolutely. That’s the thing I love about partner training application is when you first start to try and teach someone how to do some self-defence techniques, for example, when you see a beginner trying to do it, first thing you see is they’re just trying to use their arms to do all the work. Then you realise, “Okay, the condo got the idea, they’ve got the general form of it,” but how effective is it really until you start to look at these elements of how do you move your body? How do you align your body? How do you position yourself? How do you use your stunts? How do you use your eyes?

When you put all those elements together, you’re able to make things work, like you were saying before, in an effortless way.

Sandra: It’s quite beautiful, isn’t it? You’re doing things and it’s like, “How did that actually work?” It will amaze you when it first happens to you. Would you agree?

Martin: Yes, it is. That’s the thing I love about partner training is so many times of having being both on the receiving end and the giving end, if somebody is throwing you to the floor, they barely touched you, and you’re looking up from the floor and going, “How the heck did I just get there?” You’ve hit the ground really hard.

Sandra: Yes, it’s funny. I don’t know who said this to me on my journey many, many years ago. They said to me that if you have to try hard to throw somebody or to try hard to do a punch, it’s a good chance of doing it incorrectly. But if you feel the punch just happens with no force and it’s effortless and it just flows as with throwing somebody else, it just works, it’s a good chance that you’re on the right track.

Martin: It’s a good chance that you’re on the god track, yes.

Sandra: I don’t know who told me that, they used to really frustrate me when I was coming through trying so hard to get physically tougher.

Martin: I love seeing those light bulb moments in class when you see students in particular. You see these big strong men. They’re trying to do something, working really hard and it just doesn’t work for them, and you give them a little bit of encouragement just to relax, sink into their stance and breathe, and they do it again, and it’s like they barely put any effort into it and the other person is just flying across the room.

Sandra: Yes. It’s pretty amazing to watch.

Martin: We saw a little bit of that last night, didn’t we?.

Sandra: Yes, that was pretty amazing stuff. I love that. I got a sore foot, by the way, it’s all bruised, not impressed.

Martin: Sorry about that.

Sandra: That’s all good. I was just going to go into just sharing a bit about my own personal train when I trained with you, of course. I share this in a way where it may, I guess, resonate with somebody who’s listening. Often you’ll say to me, “Eyes up,” because when I’m thinking about doing something new, I’m trying to explore a certain application, my eyes will often come down and once my eyes come down, you’re always the first to say, “Get your eyes up.” It’s like moving a brick, a massive boulder, I cannot move you when I have my eyes down in that thinking mode.

Martin: That’s a really common thing you get especially because you’re a very kinesthetic learner. Most kinesthetic learners when they’re trying to process something, they’re trying to get it, and they’re trying to feel something, their eyes will drop. Their eyes will drop down and they’re trying to get their body to feel something, but in the process of doing that, they’ve broken their structure and their posture, and it actually doesn’t work. That’s the tricky thing for kinesthetic learners is to keep your eyes up while you’re actually doing something is absolutely essential, which gets right back to element number one first the eyes, and this was number one.

Sandra: Actually, a funny thing that you say that I think it’s a habit of mine because when I was training in Japan one year I was trying to improve my sanchin dachi and I was looking down at my feet as I was stepping forward, and I had a bit of a nudge from Soke Sensei saying, “Hey, eyes up.”


Martin: Yes, he picks it up all the time, doesn’t he.

Sandra: It’s good to be practicing and trying hard to develop a stance, but you’ve got your eyes down then it’s not really going to help you anyway, it’s the eyes first.

Martin: Eyes first and then let’s say you get those eyes working, and this is where you pick me up quite often is because I’m a little bit bigger, I can get away with muscling things a little bit too much. As a bigger person, I do that. I tend to do that, and a lot of beginners will tend to do that because it’s just what they naturally do because that’s what they know. They know to use their physical strength. You continually remind me, “Get that power from your legs”. Next the stance.

Sandra: Yes, the stance is so…. Actually last night when you were throwing me around, you barely touched me when you get that stance locked in.

Martin: Finally, it finally works, yes.

Sandra: Do that. You dropped me beautifully. I love it.

Martin: You’re a twisted soul, aren’t you?

Sandra: It’s wonderful.

Martin: You love it when I beat you up. What sort of husband and wife team, is this?

Sandra: What are we talking about? Let’s just keep on moving on. We know that to get us to achieve natural power in the dojo, we want to go through Ichi Gan Ni Soku San Tan. You’re going through a process there.

Martin: The eyes, the stance–

Sandra: That’s right. If we’re moving into everyday life, we have the same kind of thing and it’s a very personal thing for people to work out what would be the key elements to them in their life, which would create a natural power and ease and flow in their day. Rather than forcing to get power out of their day and to move through and force their way through every single task. There must be a few key elements which will make it more easier for people to move their lives.

Martin: It’s easier to create that natural power, that natural movement forwards. Again, this is something that you’ve studied in great depth. I’m just going to stand back and let you talk.

Sandra: As I was coming through for many years, and I still do it to this day, I studied my key basics that we have in the dojo but I also studied my life basics. I’m always trying to improve things which I feel are very important to me, which keep me feeling very happy, energetic, alive, and very loving to all people around me. It’s simple things like the sleeping well, except when you’re snoring, of course, we have to work on that a little bit more. Sleeping is a really good way in getting good rest. Eating good food. What you put in is really important. Drinking plenty of water really helps.

Having some time in the sun is a wonderful thing for me and time in nature. I love beach walks and going out for paddles and just being out in the garden watching you do all the work. Not me doing anything, of course. Things like moving every day so why do we have to say, “I can only train two or three times a week?” Why can’t we incorporate movement into our day every day? For me, there’s some of my main ones which I actually put into my day, every day and I actually monitor every day that I’m doing these things because these things bring out a better version of myself to go into my day feeling great.

Martin: There’s one more. I’m just going to pull out that when you were talking about earlier, you mentioned; just the people you spend your time with and how you spend your time. That’s two more really. They have a really big impact on you, your energy levels, and your productivity and how you feel about life.

Sandra: So true. Get some good people in your life who can really help you move forward to those next levels but also be supportive on those lower days for you as well. 100%. I think it’s moving on time there pretty quickly today. Just wrapping up for Ichi Gan Ni Soku San Tan Shi Riki, please Martin.

Martin: To wrap up, number one is the eyes. Get your eyes up, take in what’s going on around you, and look at how you’re seeing the world so there’s a chance to see how close your opponent is, see where the potential threats are.

Number two, using the stance, using your legs. Just to get back to those keywords from before. Stability, mobility, and power generation all come from your legs.

Third element, San Tan, is the grit and determination. That’s that emotional element that you bring to your technique. That’s the fight that you bring. That’s the desire to move forwards, the desire to do whatever it takes to get things done.

Today, we’re looking at technique, the technique that leads to natural power. A lot of ground covered, hey?

Sandra: Yes and we only touched on the surface, really. You’d spend months and months to discussing these over and over again.

Martin: We keep on going deeper and deeper.

Sandra: It’s just a surface level which would also need the people to don’t just leave it at that but to take that as a starting point for all those four areas and then to go deeper within their own training.

Martin: And in life.

Sandra: And in life.

Martin: Thanks for listening to today’s episode of the Karate 4 Life Podcast.

Sandra: If you found this episode useful, please comment on our website

Martin: Share it with your friends via social media and don’t forget to tag us #karate4lifepodcast.

And if you’ve got a topic that you’d like us to cover in future episodes or questions about karate or life…

Sandra: Please send us a message, we’d be more than happy to share our thoughts.

Martin: Coming up in the next episode we’ll take a deeper look at the forth and final element of ichi gan, ni soku, san tan, shi riki – technique & power.

About the author 

Sandra & Martin Phillips

Co-Founders of Karate 4 Life Online (established 2020) & Sunshine Coast Karate (established 2000).
Martin Phillips, 5th Dan, Shihan (Master Instructor).
Sandra Phillips, 5th Dan, Shihan (Master Instructor).

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