Getting Back to Basics


Sometimes it’s hard to just practice basics, especially from home. Those line drills can be awfully boring, doing technique after technique. And then movements across the floor! Where does it end?

We tend to focus on a few basics at a time, and work them in combinations. Here’s a quick workout we created for you to try at home.

So let’s get to work.

First, show some respect. Josge. Rei.

Now take 10 minutes and perform your own jumbi undo. Warm-up and stretch thoroughly, with moderate conditioning exercises, too (push ups, sit ups, leg lifts, etc.).

Once completed, move on to the next section.


Assume ready posture (heiko dachi – feet parallel, evenly weighted, shoulders’ distance apart). The command is YOI.

Today we will review your primary goju basics. Repeat each movement 10x alternating sides. Kiai on #10 (ju!).

  1. Step into left sanchin stance. Left upper block. Stay in stance, alternating sides.
  2. Step into left sanchin stance. Left middle block. Stay in stance, alternating sides.
  3. Step into left sanchin stance. Left lower block. Stay in stance, alternating sides.
  4. Step into right sanchin stance. Right front punch. Stay in stance, alternating sides.
  5. Step into right sanchin stance. Right close punch (shita zuki).
  6. Step into right sanchin stance. Fists to chest. Backfist strike to right side, then left. That’s one rep. Repeat 10x.
  7. Front kick. Begin with right. 10x.
  8. Round kick. Same.
  9. Knee-joint kick. Same.

Basics with limited movement

  1. Step into left foot forward sanchin stance. Block upper body left arm with age uke. Step forward with right foot into right sanchin (touch the knees together when moving in an in-out circular forward movement, foot sliding lightly along the floor). Punch upper body with right arm front punch (seiken zuki). Step back to yoi. This is one repetition.
  2. Repeat the above exercise 10x for middle body block yoko uke.
  3. Then step BACK 45° with right foot into a left shiko dachi (horse stance). Block lower circular block (harai otoshi uke) with left arm. Blocking fist ends one fist-distance above left knee. Right fist comes under blocking elbow as it circles to center line before extending the forearm to block as it sweeps away the attack. Right fist pulls back to chamber along the right ribs as it does. Step up to finish in yoi. Alternate sides. Repeat 10x.
  4. Step BACK with right foot into left front stance (zenkutsu dachi). Block upper body with the same arm as the foot that is forward (left). Step forward with right foot. Punch right seiken zuki middle body. Kick right front kick (mae geri). Return kick to front stance. Step back to finish.
  5. Step BACK with right foot into left horse stance. Block age uke (upper body). Reverse punch with right arm, rotating into a left front stance. Round kick rear leg (return to shiko dachi). Step up to finish.

Notes: Keep each technique strong and distinct. Don’t rush them. Concentrate on correct form. Breathe (exhale) with each technique. On kicks try not to raise up — keep standing leg well-bent. Retract leg after making “contact.” Do not fall forward after kicking.


Now you’re ready to take on kata. Pick the one you’re working on now. Do it 3x. First at regular speed. The second at study speed. Make sure you pay special attention to the areas needing improvement. Then when you think you’ve got it down (a little better, at least), do it one more time at speed.

For more on your kata, visit the kata section in our reference library.

Need inspiration? Check out this unique version of Saifa:


After you’re done with kata, it’s time to meditate. Five minutes. Just breathe.

Mokuso. Close your eyes. Concentrate on your breath. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. Completely relax. Allow all the tension in your body to leave.

Be aware of your thoughts. Don’t try to change them, or control them. Just look at them. Notice how as you do, they dissipate. And how the next one comes, and disappears as quickly as your attention settles upon it.

Continue with this non-effort. Just be the observer. Pure awareness. Let yourself find a state of “no mind,” without initiating thought on your own. Then stay there.

Mokuso yama. Rei.

Thanks for joining us today. See you soon.