Kihon literally means “foundation” but in karatedo we use it to describe the very important concept of “basics”. Everything we do in karatedo, both on and off the dojo floor, flows more smoothly and meets with much greater possibility of success when our kihon are solid, crisp, and correct.
When our kihon is not so sharp – on the dojo floor, when our jodan uke (upper block) doesn’t crisply contain the three important steps that raise our hand above our head; or outside the dojo, perhaps when our organizational skills are lacking and scattered – our performance suffers, our internal harmony fades, and our chances of being successful at the task at hand is more limited.
Why are the basics so important to success? Because we build all of our more complex tasks and complex skills on top of our basics. Look at your 10th Kyu White Belt syllabus – there are so very many techniques present! As you become more senior, you will see that the sheer volume of techniques will get smaller, but much more complex. This is because the kihon learned at 10th Kyu are the building blocks of karatedo, and all that comes after is based on combinging, extending, and expanding on these techniques. If we have lower blocks that have poor form at 10th Kyu, the kata which you will learn at 4th Kyu will suffer.
In life, the basic skills that we learn in school – how to communicate well and effectively; how to use the tools of mathematics to explain and solve problems; the historical context for our actions and our environment; and much more – all translate to becoming the foundation for the jobs and lives which we build as adults.
Kihon are generally simple. They are the atoms out of which we build the molecular fabric of our karatedo. Yet, their simplicity makes their importance deceptive to the casual observer. Do not make this mistake, and instead focus intensely and with great frequency on training your kihon – both on the dojo floor, and in your life outside.