Shotokan is a traditional Japanese Karate style with strength components in Kihon, Kata and Jyu Kumite (free-style sparring). These strength components do not depend solely on the athletes’ muscular capabilities but also on the nature of the techniques involved, which make Shotokan a powerful style of Karate.

In this article we will briefly describe some of the important factors when it comes to giving significant force and power to Shotokan techniques.

What does hip rotation really mean in Shotokan?

In Shotokan, hip rotation means transferring the body weight from one side to another side. While standing on Zenkutsu-Dachi, transferring the body weight from the back leg to the front leg (or, inversely, from the front leg to the back leg) necessitates the use of two large muscles: glutes and quadriceps. Contraction of the glutes (which are connected to the back leg) allows the body weight to be forced forwards. Moreover, in Zenkutsu-Dachi, having a strong and stable front leg helps the body weight direct the attack straight ahead. This, in turn, allows the creation of Kime in Shotokan.

There is still some misunderstanding of hip rotation when taught by Karate coaches. Narrow stances such as Kiba-Dachi, Kukutsu-Dachi and Heiko-Dachi do not give enough space for transferring the body weight from one side to another because the legs are placed along a straight line (making the stance too narrow). This means that hip rotation is practically impossible on those stances. Shotokan Karate coaches must carefully note that, in practice, swinging the waist is (biomechanically speaking) not the same as hip rotation.

Hikite in Shotokan:

In Shotokan, the meaning of Hikite is not limited to movement of the hands. However, this article will focus on how of the rear hand moves biomechanically during performance of Zuki.
In comparison with Goju-Ryu Karate, Hikite in Shotokan involves a larger number of muscles. This causes the Zuki in Shotokan to hit the opponent harder than in Goju-Ryu, albeit in equal conditions. In Shotokan, the Hikite hand is located on the waistline, where the belt is worn. When Hikite is performed, the inner angle between the forearm and the arm is much bigger than in Goju-Ryu and involves the use of biceps, triceps, pectorals and latissimus dorsi, the last two being more involved than in Goju-Ryu.

Written by Farzad Youshanlou