Oizuki (basic stepping punch), looks so simple. But for Shotokan karateka who follow the karate way, it’s an art form all on its own!
Indeed, lots of dojo place little importance on the intricate and detailed movement required to execute karate’s basic stepping punch (oizuki). They see a step and a punch and as long as it resembles oizuki, that’ll do! Now lets practice it like a bunch of crazed animals!
I’m embarrassed to say it, but it’s only in the last few years that I have realised how important the small detail is, in karate. Before that, I had the, ‘hit them as hard and fast as you can’ mentality, now, that’s not all bad, more Shotokan karateka should adopt that attitude. But as I have aged (beautifully, I may add), I have begun to realise, brute force and strength just doesn’t cut it. In fact, it just knocks you up. (British slang for tires you out).
Video tutorial at the bottom of this page
I have trained many times with Shotokan JKA karateka, Dave Hooper Sensei 4th dan (should be 7th dan), who resides in Japan and who’s instructor, is the legendary JKA senior instructor, Osaka Sensei.
I have also been training with Shihan Akio Minakami, an 8th Dan Shito Ryu master, who’s instructor was the late, great, Soke Teruo Hayashi 10th Dan.
They are both brilliant karateka who have been training longer than I have been breathing. They have both travelled different paths up the karate mountain, but their movements are very similar, natural, flowing and extremely powerful!
Not forced, brute strength, robotic, unnatural movements, like I used to do and still do sometimes.
Anyway, this article is supposed to be about oizuki (basic stepping punch), so here goes, my attempt at explaining what I have picked up from many great karate masters and how I now try and execute oizuki (when I don’t slip into ‘Conan The Destroyer’ mode).
Please don’t think I’m saying this is the only way to step, it’s just the way I have been practicing.
Stepping forward oizuki from zenkutsu dachi, gedan barai (left leg in front).
1. An initial, small but important forward movement with the front knee, whilst keeping the front foot still.
2. Drive the left shoulder, right hip and rib cage forward, at the same time keeping the right shoulder back.
3. Try pulling with the front leg as you step half way.
4. The left leg then pushes from the floor to propel the body forward.
5. At the same time the right foot lands, execute the punch.
6. At the exact time the right foot lands and the punch reaches the target, drive the left heel back into the floor tighten the muscles for a split second, especially muscles under the punching arm, abdomen and the back and inside of the thigh muscles and buttocks, them immediately relax.
7. Repeat 10,000 times, relax, less is more, don’t try to hard and good luck with the very basic, oizuki, which every experienced shotokan karateka thinks they have down!
8. Breathing should be smooth and natural, no ‘Thomas The tank Engine’ sounds.
Once this style of movement is drilled and practiced thoroughly, especially during kata training, your whole karate seems to take on a new direction.
Watching Shihan Minakami perform oizuki slowly, is fascinating, you can see he’s using every muscle and sinew, nothing is wasted, all the time aiming for the perfect technique. He uses his body naturally to deliver beautiful and devastating karate techniques!
Here is a video tutorial showing oizuki (stepping punch)