Don’t forget the basics!

Holding the pads

Things don’t get any more basic than how to hold the pad. It can be dangerous for both people training if the pad isn’t held properly. There are a number of ways to hold it securely depending on your body shape, the person striking it, and the height of the technique. However it is held it needs to be close to the body and usually against the arms so that they take the impact.

You may need to remind people not to move the pad as it is being struck and they can adjust the height of the pad by bending their knees which may be better than trying to do so by moving their arms. Moving the pad can lead to injury for both parties.

If there are new students in the class, or those that may have simply forgotten, it may be worth reminding them on how to hold the pad.

Striking the pad

What could go wrong?

If it is hurting the person striking the pad then there is something wrong. This could be for all manner of reasons:

  • An old injury causing a weakness in the part of the body landing the technique; or
  • Perhaps there is an issue with the body shape of the student (non-flat fist, bent wrist).

What can you do about these issues?

  • If an injury is causing the issue the technique may need to be modified or an alternative one used.
  • It there is a psychological issue perhaps they could strike a softer pad.
  • The body positioning could be modified to resolve the problem (it could be as simple as changing a Tate-ken fist position to Seiken).

If there is no power in the technique there is also something wrong. This could be for all manner of reasons:

  • Lack of effort;
  • Lack of hip work;
  • Not pulling for power;
  • Not starting and ending at the correct distance from the pad (more often than not this is the fault);
  • Poor timing throughout the technique (there are a lot of body parts on the move in most techniques and a student needs to get them to flow at the right time to get a good technique). This comes with practice;
  • Poor stance or balance not allowing the student to deliver their power; and
  • Lack of speed in the technique (the faster you move the more power you can deliver, this links in with pulling for power).

When teaching a technique you will need to consider how much of the above to bring into your explanation and how much to leave out.

When you are watching students training you will need to think about all of the power issues mentioned above to see if there is something that is poor and can be improved or possibly not as good as it could be which might turn a good technique into a great one.

Individuals will need to find their own favoured techniques and adopt the strikes accordingly. For example, Sensei Ziggy has thick wrists which are great for Gyaku tsukis but he really struggles to do Teisho uchis. Students will need to try and persevere with all techniques before they can decide that one is not for them though.

Basic techniques

Basic punches Gyaku tsuki Students must have a good fist and a straight wrist
Oi tsuki Students must have a good fist and a correctly aligned wrist (its alignment depends upon where you are striking)
Basic strikes Shuto uchi Students must keep their fingers together and strike with side of hand
Teisho uchi There are a number of ways of doing this, make sure the elbow isn’t locked
Empi uchi The pad may need to be angled so as to stop the strike slipping off
Tettsui uchi Perhaps best done in Shiko dachi
Ottoshi uchi Probably best done with body movement, either lunging forward or back into Neko ashi dachi
Basic kicks Mae geri Remember that the toes need to be pulled back and knee raised above the pad
Mawashi geri Ensure the “rolling guard” arm isn’t pulled back before the foot strikes the pad
Yoko geri Try to land the heel in the centre of the pad (you can imagine stamping your name onto the pad with the bottom of your foot, much like potato stamps in school)
Hiza geri Students could try holding onto partner for extra power

Don’t forget the variations of this kick

Basic blocks Jodan uke This can be performed as a Jodan uchi as in Pinan Nidan
Gedan barai Effectively the same thing as a tettsui uchi

Advance techniques

So many to chose from so not listed.

Other things to consider:

One shot techniques The first strike must be good enough to win the fight hence the need to practice this
Multiple pad techniques This type of training helps with balance and transitioning
This can be prescribed sequences or Randori style
Combining pads and techniques to the air This helps with balance and control (especially if a partner is used as a target)
Moving target They are harder to strike so this should improve timing and distancing, this could be the training partner simply marching forward or moving focus mits
Focus mits This type of training is not so much about power but about speeding up techniques and combinations of techniques.