What is kime?
Either you've been around long enough. Or you have an instructor that tells you from the start:
But what is Kime?
You know you're confused when you hear "more Kime!" and a minute later: "more relax"!
It's confusing. I know.
When you're confused, you don't know what to do. And that's frustrating. Not to mention you may be practsing the wrong thing (for years)...
So let's put an end to that. Right here. Right now.
Are you ready to finally understand the ins and outs of Kime — methods for training included?
Alright, let's go!
the 5 flowing stages of kime
Kime can be translated to settlement, conclusion or end. (But...)
The end of for example a punch is the moment of energy transfer. Kime has to do with this moment in time and can be compared to the pulse of a heartbeat. Or the sound of snapping your fingers.
Finished before you know it. And that is key.
Only when transferring energy, sufficient contraction is necessary.
Kime has (2) 5 stages:
- Kamae - Before you are going to punch, your body is relaxed (but ready)
- Kime - For a split second, you initiate the movement mentally and physically
- Neutral - When your fist is 'in flight', relax as much as possible
- Kime - Just before you make contact with the opponent, align and contract sufficiently
- Nukeru - Relax immediately after impact (you are back to 1)
Using this VERY simple example, you'll understand the biggest misunderstanding about Kime instantly ⬇️
So is kime tension or not?
Well — yes and no.
For an individual muscle it's on and off. So yes and no.
But to create "Kime" that you're looking for, you can't put it that simple. It would be too simplistic.
Before we dig deep into how this works, let me put it this way:
- Unnecessary tension before and after Kime are to be avoided. This is merely getting in the way of producing speed before Kime or being able to react afterwards.
- When transferring energy and applying Kime, not only a physical contraction is necessary, but also the conjugation of the mind, technique and body in that one small moment in time.
So, Kime is also an attitude or mentality.
Execute techniques using Kime and train with full effort.
And by the way:
The "physical contraction" has a concious and an unconcious element that you need to control.
Here's the full no-holds-barred explanation you've been waiting for:
STAGE 1: KAMAE
Take Kamae with Required Energy.
The term required energy is self explanatory, as it already tells you to only use the energy that you require. Basically, a muscle communicates in terms of contraction, so to explain the term of Required energy, let's use a scale of 0 to 100 for the amount of contraction.
- 0 contraction = no trace of muscle tension whatsoever i.e. completely relaxed.
- 1-99 contraction = lower to higher intensity of contraction
- 100 contraction = full contraction
Imagine taking Shizentai as you arms hang at the sides of your body. At this point, the muscles surrounding your shoulder which are used to lift your arm are for convenience sake 0 in this example. If you want to raise your arm and use a contraction of 5, maybe your muscles activate, but still you can not lift your arm. If you lift by 90 or 100, you may lift your arm but use a kind of contraction that would allow you to lift a 10Kg dumbell. In other words, using 90 or 100 is not necessary if you simply want to lift your arm.
Required energy is the number that you need to lift your arm.
Let's say you need 30 to lift your arm (beat gravity). In this situation, if you change from 30 to 29 your arm starts to drop by gravity. If you use 31, your arm becomes more tense than necessary and it will be more difficult to move smoothly.
You can imagine that reaching a level of body control of 1/100 in all body parts at the same time is very difficult. Especially since using your body requires muslce contraction. For this, there are various trainingmethods that loosen up your body.
Yes, it can be argued that this is not part of Kime.
Think in terms of circles and transitions — not start. stop. choppy straight lines.
You'll see how 1 flows into 2, into 3, 4, 5. And from 5 back into 1.
Not from black to white, but from black to grey to white. It's a process.
So what's next?
A bow and arrow. Picture that.
Is your Kamae like an arrow ready to fire or do you still have to load?
(know more about guns? Think double and single action...)
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STAGE 2: KIME
The first Kime has a mental and physical aspect.
The mental side is easily explained using this word: intent.
The speed of your punch. The power. It's related to how badly you want to punch properly.
That's what it comes down to.
From Kamae, load your body as you sharpen your focus - as if you shoot a laser from your eyes. If you don't know what I'm on about, simply look at high level Karate matches. A lot of nothing happens and then.. BOOM.
Having said that, do it in an extremely small movement to send your punch on it's way.
STAGE 3: nEUTRAL
"In flight" — that covers 95% of what you do between Kime at the beginning and the end of the movement.
So what about the remaining 5%? >> I call it stabilisor muscles.
Instead of a shaky movement, your arm or leg should move smoothly throughout the whole trajectory.
Imagine opening a door...
How does your hand move from hanging at the side of your body to grabbing the doorknob? Smooth right?
For convenience and clearity's sake - let's say there are two types of muscle:
- Muscles that initiate movement
- Muscles that stabilise movement
Muscles that initiate are use at the beginning of the movement. The ones that stabilise are used during the movement when your fist "in flight".
Of course, both muscles are recruited for both actions, but percentage and emphasis wise it should be as described above.
STAGE 4: KIME
Take a step.
Seriously. Don't read more before you tried it a couple of times.
The instant your foot touches the floor...
When your body weight is transferred...
When you finally stand on your other leg...
- The muscles neccesary to support you contract automatically (not conciously)
- Those same muscles contract the necessary amount to support you, no more, no less (no full contraction)
- Your body finds proper alignment naturally (position of most economic power and most efficient energy)
Number 3 is normal — for most people.
Some people have weak knees, others an unstable hip. And that causes them to be out of alignment making things worse.
Why I'm saying that? Because that applies to people who have been walking their whole lives - day in day out.
The same goes for the alignment of your punch, from your fist to your shoulder.
And since it's not something you do as much as taking a step, it's extremely important to use a Makiwara, practise planking and other methods that focus on alignment and stability.
PS: Yes, in the beginning contracting hard is good for many reasons. Discontinue that later on to make your contraction "like the pulse of a heartbeat' - as Nukina sensei put it.
STAGE 5: NUKERU
When you apply Kime, apply Nukeru instantly and leave your potential in the opponent. Simply put, relax after you punch. Relax or Nukeru is not so much what you do, rather what you no do. Holding on to power. And this is the problem.
Kime almost promotes that most Karateka hold on to power - tension that is - for too long.
If you knocked out your opponent that might not be a big problem, but if he is still good to go.. You have to be ready for anything that follows. Whether it is to move, to block or to punch.
You do want to be able to act quickly.
If you can manage to do Nukeru straight after Kime, you enter Kamae. You'll be able to act instantly.
Nukeru means to omit. It is like turning something on and off.
In Karate it means that you have to relax the muscle by dropping the power. Think about the sound a computer makes when shutting down. Even that tiny bit of Required Energy has to be removed. This idea is either used to start movement or to immediately return to Kamae, not holding on to Kime.
In my book, Wado No Michi, I mention quite often that you should apply Nukeru immediately after Kime. So: it's also a technical method to avoid itsuki.
methods to develop kime — all 5 stages
Use This Method From Sakagami Sensei To Improve Relaxation
It's easier to relax round movements as opposed to straight movement. Especially if you put in power. Having said that, using a straight movement creates a bigger challenge. Check the easy and hard method in this video.
All 5 Stages Of Kime Explained And Demonstrated
Using an unorthodox way to demonstrate it, you'll see immediately what Nukeru means and how it can be used.