When you want to get good at anything, it’s always best to go to the source. When that anything is shotokan karate, the first source that comes to mind is anyone with the surname Funakoshi. Enter Kyle Funakoshi, a martial arts instructor based in Milpitas, California. He grew up in Hawaii, where he started training in shotokan techniques when he was 5. His sensei was his father, Kenneth Funakoshi, a man who’s no stranger to the pages of Black Belt — he appeared on the cover of the June 1992 issue. Kyle Funakoshi and his family moved to San Jose, California, 24 years ago so they could administer their association’s many dojo from a more centralized location. Since then, they’ve built a reputation for offering the highest-quality instruction in the Japanese art. More than 31 years of practicing shotokan techniques and participating in national and international competition have brought Kyle Funakoshi to where he is today — seventh-degree black belt. Ask him why he’s dedicated his life to the understanding and practice of shotokan techniques, and he’ll humbly hint that he wants to carry on the tradition of the art’s founder, Gichin Funakoshi — his fifth cousin.
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Instantly Improve Your Shotokan Techniques Through Rhythm and Timing “There are all sorts of rhythm,” Kyle Funakoshi explained. “There’s natural rhythm, in which you’re not moving. There’s a rhythm in which you’re pressing your opponent. There’s a rhythm in which you’re doing a yori ashi, or sliding back and forth. “Whenever you have an opponent in front of you, that changes rhythm again because both of you are moving — especially when he throws a fake, or when you do and he reacts to it.” One of the most common manifestations of rhythm can be seen when two taekwondo stylists face each other and begin to bounce. Kyle Funakoshi said such a tactic is valid but using it requires caution. “There are many ways to use rhythm in your kamae, or fighting stance,” Kyle explained in his breakdown of training for improved shotokan techniques. “One could be you’re stationary and pressing your opponent. Another is you’re bouncing to get your own rhythm. You might be bouncing up and down or forward and back. If you bounce too high, you can be timed and hit with a reverse punch, front kick or side thrust. If you move forward and back, you have to be careful of the distance. If you bounce too far, it can leave you open to attack or telegraph your intentions. You have to find the distance that’s just right for your body.”
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In Part 2, Kyle Funakoshi explores how your shotokan techniques can benefit from the understanding and practice of feinting and baiting. About the Author: Robert W. Young is the executive editor of Black Belt.