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Wayne's picture
Kime and power generation

I thought I had power generation and kime sorted out fairly well, but I came across this article https://boxingscience.co.uk/increase-the-snap-in-your-punch/ and now I'm not so sure. What's referenced sure sounds a lot like what a lot of my Shotokan instructors called Kime, so I'm hoping to gain some clarity and hope you guys can help. Thanks! 

Frazatto's picture

Hey Wayne o/

That link has a lot o noise, I find it hard to take it seriously.

But If I understood what they are saying, it's just that a flaccid limb will not transfer energy to target as effective as a stiffed one.

If we could have a pool noodle and a baseball bat, bot with the same size and weight, if both hit your face with the same speed, which one would cause more damage?

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Believe it or not, I was basically taught Karate 'kime' in Boxing. It was identical instruction other than the body mechanics specific to punching. Snap at the end of technique, etc.

The thing that is more specific here is bagwork. Generally our coach in Boxing did not like what I would call "todome" ( I think I got the term from Oyatas book) - basically strikes that not only snap, but drive forward. I think this kind of punching is considered too committed in Boxing, my coach taught what I would consider mostly "atemi" -quicker snapping and whipping strikes.

I think part of it is also about longevity with bagwork, we were taught to snap our punches on the bag with just an inch or so into the bag, I would say a more conservative approach than in Karate.

I think it also has to do with health/longevity, if you spend as much time on bags as boxers do it pays to kind of modulate your power at times to preserve your body.

In terms of basics though, minus the heel being up and the stance being slightly different, I was definitely taught kime in Boxing.

Also worth mentioning, the isometric holds mentioned the article are a staple of some Okinawan methods. It's some of the same principles that makiwara training is based on. That's of course no claim that these are common in today's Karate, but I learned them in my Karate and found them similar to some things in Boxing.


Wayne's picture

I was always told by my Shotokan instructors that kime or focus was for power generation. I started training in 1987 as a teenager and had no reason or knowledge to think otherwise. However, I’ve always been a stickler for having to know the details behind how things work and the explanations never seemed very consistent. Even the guys who could generate a lot of power, didn’t really seem to understand how they did so and I would include myself in that group. 

  I also see a lot of inconsistencies with even boxers explaining how they actually generate power in their punches. They know how to do it, but don’t know what’s really going on or how to explain it very well. Iain’s video on kime made a lot of sense, but then I see websites like the one I linked that at least appear very scientifically based or come across quotes like this one attributed to Jack Dempsey which reads…   “Shoot your loose, half-opened left hand straight along the power line at a chin-high spot […]. But as the relaxed left hand speeds […] suddenly close the hand with a convulsive, grabbing snap. Close it with such a terrific grab that when the second knuckle of the upright fist smashes […], the fist and the arm and the shoulder will be ‘frozen’ steel-hard by the terrific grabbing tension.  That convulsive, freezing grab is the explosion.”     …and that sure sounds very similar to the concept the kime I was taught, so I’m just not sure if I really understand. There may be an element of truth that’s just been misunderstood or distorted, kind of like hikite. Anyway, after 35 years in the martial arts, I feel this is the one area where I lack real detailed understanding and that makes me a less effective instructor. I appreciate all the responses. 


Heath White
Heath White's picture

I'm not going to claim to be an expert on this but I have had some relevant experiences.  I too was always taught that "kime" (or the korean equivalent) was for power.  At least the way I was taught this--and better instruction is probably available in other dojos/dojangs--I developed two habits in my karate training (tang soo do, technically) which I have had to unlearn in Muay Thai.

The first is that I was too tense all through my punch.  I had to learn to relax *a lot* more.  I figured this out by reading this website and watching YouTube.  I believe the source of the problem is that you are praised (where I learned, anyway) for very crisp, precise movements that end on a dime and freeze.  Dempsey's "loose, half-opened hand" would have been corrected by my instructors, but that is absolutely the way a relaxed punch has to start.  It is much easier to start relaxed if you are loosey-goosey, bouncing around, as you are in say boxing.  

The second is that I left the punch or block out in the air too long, instead of instantly coming back to guard.  I can't tell you how many times I have been countered as a result.  Again,  this is due to training that freezes the strike/block out at full extension, instead of immediately snapping back like in shadowboxing.

I would also second what Zach says about punches that snap versus punches that drive through.  In Muay Thai we are encouraged to save those heavy, fully committed punches for the rare occasion when the opponent is not really offensively dangerous.  I think this has to do with getting back to guard instantly.  I think traditional karate is designed on the assumption that you are going to dispatch the opponent in two or three strikes, and that may be one source of the difference in this case.

One method I invented to help me relax my movements was to do my forms "floppy."  That is, forget about the freeze-frame at the end of each motion, keep your hands half-open the whole time, and concentrate on generating power from hips/waist/shoulders, letting your arms move roughly as a boxer does when shadowboxing, or with even less control.  Flop around.  What I have found, when I ask students (black belts) to try this, is that it drives them bananas.  Everybody in karate *says* they punch relaxed, but try to really do it and see how it feels. 

SimonSutherland's picture

Just had a thought based on Heath's "floppy forms".

How about holding a foam ball (the size of a tennis ball) and throwing the punch but only squeezing the ball at the moment of potential impact ? (Probably not a good idea to be holding something on a real impact) The foam also means that you don't have to hold it tightly to maintain a grip on it. I'll try it with my new beginner next week, we will be doing striking so it will be a good time to test.

Wayne's picture


  One point that really hit home for me in Iain’s video about Kime was when he was discussing kicking. In my early Shotokan classes, kime was taught as transferring and focusing all the energy into a single point by bracing through alignment and tensing the whole body at the moment of impact. It was all very exaggerated and whenever kime was demonstrated or explained, it was always in the context of hand techniques, never kicking. 
Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

Heath it’s cool we have landed in same place on some things, so to speak. After learning basic shadow boxing in the gym I have tried to slowly incorporate this idea with bits of kata. Instead of doing it as prescribed I just pick 2-3 moves and start out slow and fluid, only paying the minimum attention to having an exact embusen or anything like that.  Eventually ramping up speed, but not doing the typical start-stop “kime” you are talking about.

What I’ve found is that my movement in Kata proper has become more functional (near as I can tell), but of course it would flunk if judged by a Karateka for “kime”.

It’s worth noting, I’ve seen and been taught a variety of “correct” pacing and mechanics for Kata, ranging from the traditional notion of kime we are talking about here, to something akin to fast Tai Chi.

I’ve concluded that Kata teaches very much a “skeleton” of basic movement, I think what happened over time is people added all these personal affectations to that skeleton, called it correct, and called it kime.

It’s nobody’s fault, but this is one area where I think we have to do a lot of experimentation to get back to something functional in traditional arts.