Martial Arts Postures: Kamae

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Every martial art has a number of postures- ways of holding the body, arms, and legs. In our own training we have an interesting collection of them- ichimonji, jumonji, hicho, shizen, kosei, hoko, etc.

From a kihon (basics) perspective how do we practice them?

A good first place to start is understanding their relationship to kyusho- weak points on the body.

Our bodies have a number of weak points which can be manipulated by techniques.  By using kamae we are protecting our weak points, while getting our training partner to expose their weak points. Kamae also control and influence distance and timing which further manipulate the idea of kyusho.

Here are a few examples of kamae-drills that we often practice in class:

Holding each stance with correct posture in mind- correct footwork, bent knees with the foot in alignment, and our back and head straight. Getting as LOW as we can.

Moving and shifting smoothly from posture to posture from a LOW stance, paying attention to keeping good posture and trying to move without body tension.

Receiving a punch from your training partner, performing uke negashi while moving into the correct posture.

Assuming a posture, taking ukemi by rolling, and then standing back up in a new posture, with attention to smoothness, balance, and relaxation.

After practicing our kamae drills, pausing for a moment to see what parts of our body might be sore or tight- are we holding tension there as we move through the postures, or perhaps are there areas we need to direct our stretching against as discovered through kamae.