Breathing Control (Natural Breathing Method)
Basic breath control is when the practitioner clearly demonstrates he is breathing out on execution movements and inward on retraction. As breath control advances multiple movements are performed as a combination with the combined executions utilising the outward breath. Inward breaths then are reserved for the interval between opponents and the practitioner is pacing himself for the endurance game. The practitioner is in total control of his/her breath instead of the body gasping for air because it is oxygen starved.
Posture (upright but relaxed)
The posture as a rule is upright, back erect, as our fighting style is a centred posture system rarely using off balancing tactics of the practitioner. The exception would be evidenced Bassi Sho and Gojushiho. The shoulders are relaxed, chin pulled in, and the movements are performed without tilting or bobbing, keeping the torso upright, but relaxed (head transitions from one stance to another without giving a temporal reference)
The practitioner should first look in each new direction prior to a turn being performed. This is to accomplish an instantaneous survey of the scene to determine the threat, gauge the opponents speed, and choose the appropriate counter. Onlookers look at the eyes to see if the practitioner is actualising the fight in their mind, thus measuring the spirit. The gaze is open and forward (thousand mile stare), not glancing, wandering, or downward.
Power generation is initiated in the hip. The hip should lead all punches, kicks, blocks, steps, and turns in execution and reverse the motion with the hip initiating the retraction. All movement is generated first by the hip and the rest of the body followed out to the extremities.
The step is performed by drawing in the leg and following foot by squeezing the inner thigh muscles to a centred point underneath the shoulder circumference and then extending the step into the next stance using the outer thigh muscles of the stationary/diving leg. It is common to think the cat stance for instance is achieved as the stance between stepping between two longer stances. Rather the feet and legs should centre under the shoulders at the transition point of all steps and turns.
Strikes, blocks and kicks (expect for thrusting kicks such as Yoko Ger Kekomi) exhibit a whipping characteristic. This is the end result of the Koshi generated movement from the hips. Whipping cannot be achieved if there is no retraction of the hip after execution of a technique, or relaxation of the striking/blocking limb.
No wasted motion. Streamline execution of one perfect technique to another. Examples that would take the score down could be the hand opens and closes unnecessarily between two closed fist techniques, cheater steps in Kata, over exaggerated movements for show, or any extraneous movement not in the core Kata that does not support any practical bunkai application.
Kata is fighting, fighting is Kata
The individual movements and combination of techniques within the practitioner’s Kata can be utilised for realistic self defence. They are demonstrated to a near lethal use through the practitioners focus, speed, power, control and efficiency thus making it effective Karate. During Kumite (if appropriate for the testing level), fighting moves replicate Kata in terms of the same principles expressed above.