The Kihon

Eddy; starting the 3rd pull.

Eddy starts the 3rd pull,

Casey gets some air time.

Casey gets some air time,

And the girls go a'climbing.

And the girls go a'climbing.

When I lived in Tokyo many years ago, I had as good a training partner as anyone could ask for.  We were about the same level, with different strengths and weaknesses, and we both shared a serious passion for martial arts and training.  We trained at the headquarters of our system, a three story building.  The main training area was on the third floor and it had a small balcony on one side with sliding glass doors and windows along the entire length.

Periodically special training sessions for the higher level teachers were held at the headquarters.  Of course, Rick and I, being low level black belts, were not invited to these training sessions and we were naturally very curious about them.  What secret techniques were being shown?  What deadly strikes and throws were taught?  We were dying to know.

Since this was Tokyo, there were a number of buildings at least as tall as the headquarters on all sides.  We found that the roof of an apartment building about 2 buildings away afforded us a perfect view into the 3rd floor training area via the sliding doors.  We were very excited and eagerly awaited the next special training session.

The special class started with a review of the basic movements and throws of our style. It then progressed to various variations of those basic movements.  Rick and I looked at each other.  We knew all this stuff hands down.  Where was the good stuff, the secret stuff, the high level stuff?  Then the basic throws were worked with different weapons.  The headmaster worked with each of the other teachers, making minute corrections and shifts.

After a few hours, the special training session was over.  Rick and I were stiff from lack of movement, disappointed, and pretty confused.  Not a movement beyond what a beginner of a few months might know had been covered.  It was a dramatic lesson in the importance of the kihon, the basics.  Everything, no matter how advanced, stemmed from the principles and body movement taught in the kihon.  The purpose of the special class was to better teach the teachers how to teach the basics.  Not at all what we expected, or wanted to see, but it certainly gave Rick and me a new insight into the movements and throws of our style and made us assign new importance to the basics in our own training.

The very same can be said for CrossFit.  At the Level 2 Trainer Certification, currently the highest level teaching certification offered in CrossFit, the focus is solely on the basic movements of CrossFit and how to better teach them.  Far from fancy gymnastics movements, or O-lifting tricks, the squat, press, deadlift, and clean are the focus for two days of training and teaching.  It would be a little anti-climactic, like the special training class I witnessed so long ago, if one did not understand the importance of the basics, the kihon.

If you look around your affiliate, I bet that the person who has the heaviest snatch probably has a pretty good air squat.  And the person with the fastest Grace time probably has a pretty good med ball clean.  Simply put, good basics lead to good advanced movements.

Over the years, Rick and I would go back many times to that roof to illicitly steal more knowledge, but the vast majority of what we saw was not the stuff that kung fu movies are made of, but rather the stuff that great teachers are made of.

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