I have previously published a list of 100 terrific things to try when practicing our first footwork exercise, Tegatana no Kata. I have also published some video (I know it’s not very good video) of the exercise here and here. Following is some elaboration on a handful of helpful hints that we have been working on most recently.
- You want to be weight-bearing on the balls of the feet. Specifically the balls of the two most medial toes of each foot (the big toe and the second toe). The heel and the outside of the foot is slightly brushing the ground and helping you to balance on the two long, strong levers on the medial side of the foot. If you try weightbearing on the outside of the foot you will lose power and you will notice a tendency to roll the ankle outward, which is practically the only way that it is possible to sprain the ankle.
- You are trying for a dynamic posture that is balanced around a central norm of shizentai, that is, a normal, upright posture. Your feet should be slightly closer than shoulder-width and heel-toe alignment, head over shoulders over hips over balls of feet. Notice that you cannot easily attain this natural upright posture if you stand on your heels – everything on up the chain gets out of whack. If you imagine some force drawing the crown of your head up, stretching your body out between your head and the balls of your feet then you will rock forward onto the balls of the feet and the rest of the body will tend to release into shizentai.
- Take small, conservative steps – no greater than the width of your stance (width of your hips). This minimizes rocking and bobbling and reduces the amount of recovery needed after each step, making your motion faster and more efficient.
- Your steps should be gravity-powered; falling instead of stepping. Concentrate on a feeling of your center dropping toward the center of the Earth during the first half of the step, then concentrate on pulling with the new weight-bearing leg and tightening the thighs together to recover from the step.
- And one more hint, hopefully helpful, that I don’t think made my first list. Check out the following video and watch carefully the alignment of the hips, knee, and foot during the turns. I’ve been preaching this more explicitly for the past several classes and these ideas make a difference in strength and stability during the turns.