Koshi — How to use your hip properly to execute Karate techniques

what is koshi?

Koshi is the Japanese word for hip. It is common knowlegde that you should twist your hip when you execute techniques. 

It's the first thing that you learn in a Karate Dojo and you'll hear until the end of days: twist your hip. Apart from the fact that you have to twist Koshi and that Koshi can twist — for me personally using the word 'twist' is a matter of convenience.

If you want to keep it simple, you can say that you can twist Koshi (Gyakuzuki / Mawashigeri). You can distinguish two different kinds, twist 'in' and 'out' which I'll explain, demonstrate and connect to techniques on this page.

Eventually, there's...

  • Opening your hip
  • Locking
  • Pulling
  • Vibrating
  • Cutting
  • Thrusting
  • Rebounding

...but first this:

Hip twisting creates power and does so in a large movement. Later on, this kind of movement must be made smaller and smaller. Eventually it comes down to using your whole body effectively— hip twisting may actually be slow. Practically less effective for different situations. 

But you have to start somewhere— and that somewhere is here. By twisting your hip. Learning to control it. Twisting, thrusting, cutting. 

I will address all different kinds of uses of Koshi and share the most effective methods to develop this.

Koshi is the connection between your lower and upper body, which means that correct use of Koshi ensures being able to use the whole body. 

Let's start with these 3 ways to move from your hips with your body. 

This is footage from my Wadokai Seminar on Idori. Idori is excellent to isolate hip movement as your leg movement is highly restricted.

"Good koshi is The Upper Body Sitting On The Lower Body"

Koshi is translated as back, lower back, waist, hips and lumbar region. This is a very important and strong part of the body. Your hip is what connects your upper and lower body and is basically the centre of gravity.

"The upper body should be sitting on the lower body"

That's what Ishikawa sensei said. 

Do you get it? I didn't. Not at the time. It was cool to know but it didn't help me. Johan Cruijff explains this clearly "you only get it when you understand".

Here's the reason: It's a feeling. It's not information — it's knowledge.

It's the description of the feeling when your whole body is connected. One unit that moves. Produces power. Directs energy. Stands stable. This is the meaning of "Upper body should be sitting on the lower body". 

To pull it off, the first thing is to understand the neutral of Koshi ⬇️

Koshi is the connection between the upper and lower body. 

Once they become one unit, you can feel it. In every single stance.

how to execute your techniques with koshi


internal rotation

Strictly speaking it is only Internal Rotation for the left hip — twisting towards the front leg. 

Twist your hip in the direction of your front foot, from Hanmi to Shomen.

Technically, Internal Rotation is used for Gyakuzuki.

Hanmi Gamae
Gyakuzuki

external rotation

Strictly speaking it is only External Rotation for the left hip — twisting away from the front leg.

Twist your hip from Hanmi to Mahanmi.

Technically, External Rotation is used for Nagashizuki.

Hanmi Gamae
Nagashizuki

Loosen Up Your Hip Joints And Muscles With This Exercise

If you carefully study Koshi's movement (and the closely surrounding area), twisting is quite a superficial explanation for using your hip. The dynamic is quite complex if you are taking movement of surrounding muscles, ligaments and tendons into account.

First, I introduce you to using your hip socket, also called Acetabulum in medical terms and Kankotsukyuu in Japanese.

Everybody has a hand and fingers, but to use them in the correct manner for complex and subtle movements requires a lot of practice. The same counts for your hip.

To develop Koshi there are several different training methods. I would like to share a training method that I developed at the end of 2012 and have been practicing daily since.

This is a method is a combination of a training that saw in a Sumo Dojo when I was in Japan and a method of Nukina sensei, which makes sure that you have to rely on a good Seichusen.

In the video, I explain what to pay attention to and I demonstrate the method as well.  


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