Keeping with the theme of understanding how one’s own body works and developing the tools to master it we move onto the study of kamae- postures of the body. Kamae are used to control distance, timing, and how it effects/reacts to your body along with protecting the weak spots on your body. Kamae are used to interact with your training partner to put you in a safe and strong position while putting them in a weak position.
Kyu Kamae “Nine Postures To Control Distance & Timing”
Fudoza No Kamae “Immovable Seat”
This posture has you sitting on the floor with one leg tucked under the other. It is an immovable seat in that your center of gravity is directly aligned and stabilized. From here, being a seated posture, you can move in complete balance in any direction. Practice getting up and down in fudoza while in perfect balance through the entire range of movement.
Shizen No Kamae “Natural Posture”
Shizen has you sanding erect with your arms relaxed at your sides, your feet under your hips, and with a slight bend in your knees. From this position you are aware of the space around you and how close objects and people are. You want to be in complete balance so even though it appears that you are just standing there you can move in any direction at a moment’s notice.
Hira Ichimonji No Kamae “Flat Figure One Posture”
Stand with your arms stretched out to the side as far as you can while not locking them out as your feet are rooted to the ground. Practice moving “flat” in a 360 degree radius and while shifting form both legs to standing on a single leg.
Ichimonji No Kamae “Figure One Posture”
Lead hand extends to your training partner’s heart while the rear hand is held in a fist at elbows height. Turn your body flat and shift it back.
Doko No Kamae “Angry Tiger Posture”
Lead hand extends as in ichimonji no kamae, rear hand is held up near your ear in boshiken. Being ready to strike with intention and actually striking are sometimes the same things. A gesture is often as the same as an action.
Hicho No Kamae “Flying Bird Posture”
Standing on one leg, arms like ichimonji. Raise the leg up and down as needed, even though we always practice standing on one leg.
Hoko No Kamae “ Encircling Tiger Posture”
Projecting a sphere infront of you, elevating the arms to make you bigger or smaller as needed.
Kosei No Kamae “Power Of the Tiger Posture”
Attack and defense are the same.
Jumonji No Kamae “Figure Ten Posture”
Arms crossed in front held in boshiken, shoulders and legs squared off.
Kamae and gravity.
When practicing your postures you want to get as low as possible to the ground, really using your legs to lower your center of gravity while keeping your back straight and shoulders aligned. This is very important for training and self-development. It will strengthen your legs, teach you about moving from the center, and if you can move smoothly from being so low in practice, when you have to stand up higher in a self-defense situation you will be able to move that much quicker and smoother. If you can go low, going high is easy, if all you ever are is high, you will never be able to get low.
The first way to practice kamae is to stand in place starting with shizen no kamae and then shift into one of the kamae and hold it for a few moments before returning to shizen no kamae. While you are in kamae pay attention to your height and balance and the locations of your limbs. Fine tune your posture and try to stay relaxed through the time holding the postures. Make a note of any sore or tense points in your body and work to loosen them up with junan taiso. Pay attention to your knees! Make sure they are in correct alignment and NOT extending past your feet or twisting in an odd manner in an attempt to get lower. Keep that back straight and those shoulders relaxed and even. Just standing in kamae is easy, standing in kamae correctly takes a bit of work…
Once you are comfortable with that, start walking around and shift into the different kamae adding movement to your practice. Shift into the kamae from different directions checking that your balance and posture stays correct as you move around. Think of it as a dance. Add to each kamae high, medium, and low- jodan, chudan, gedan.
The next layer to add on to your practice is walking around shifting into kamae before rolling and getting up in kamae. Integrate the lessons from 9th – 7th kyu into kamae. Practice with both your eyes open and closed.