Some Valuable Advice
By Henri Plée
From Karate, Beginner to Black Belt
W. Foulsham & Co. Ltd.
is for beginners. Accordingly, I shall give you here, in no particular order,
some advanced advice which will be a veritable mine of
"secrets" for those who read them. You may understand them at first glance, but
as you progress, you will understand them better and often in a different way.
- There must always be an adversary present in spirit; at no time take your eyes
off him, show your teeth or laugh.
- The spirit must draw together the body and the instincts.
- When the mind is dissipated, the physical and mental force which is in you
loses its co ordination.
- Painful exercises improve the concentration, and enable you to discover the
truth about yourself.
- In every attack there is a problem of reaction, the force recoils on the
attacker and he loses if his posture is defective (buttocks stuck out, shoulder
moved back, heel raised or an incomplete Hikite), this also explains the unity
of the direction of force. Execute everything in one solid, unified action,
- Mental concentration can lead to an apparent increase in weight, as well as
- The eyes must attack first of all, followed by the foot then the fist, but all
must reach the target at the same time.
- The important thing about an attack is . . . to strike.
- Unity of action takes precedence over the speed of the action.
- In order to be fast and supple at middle level, it is necessary to train very
deep and low.
- Never at any moment lose your stability, for your opponent will not let it
pass in real combat.
- Consider every Kata which you execute as a matter of life or death.
- Always try to really K.O. your partner in Gohon, Sanbon and Ippon-Kumite. This
is your only chance to progress.
- In blocking, it is necessary to increase your own stability while making your
adversary lose his. If he is better balanced or stronger than you are, you must
unbalance him as you block.
- In every action, you must be aware of your own weak points (so as to defend
them) and those of your opponent (so as to counter).
- It is necessary to rediscover childlike purity and add to it the strength and
speed of a man.
- Nobody has a Mastery of Karate, for it is the total mastery of body and spirit
which is the aim of Karate. It is necessary then to pursue your training in
order to approach the maximum.
- Before passing on to other types of counter-attack, master the Gyaku-tsuki
shudan (middle level). But keep the others in mind.
- Put the finishing touches to your blocks, postures and attacks. The majority
of 2nd and 3rd Dan black belts go back again to the beginner's Karate simply
because it is quicker and stronger. The ultimate object is different. If not,
you will be unable to extend your technique to cover the whole field of
- All the postures other than Zen-Kutsu, Ko-Kutsu or Kiba-Dachi are variations
of these. The three basic postures should, ideally, have the same distance
between feet and the same narrow spaces between the arms and the body, with
differing distributions of weight.
- Everything which causes the shoulders to move forward is weak.
- Everything which is on the axis of your body (which is also the line on which
is found the three or four vital points) is strong.
- Connected with the respiration, the body traverses successive periods of
weakness and strength.
- The sides under your arms are very weak, to protect them always will also
- Perform Tsuki with your lower abdomen and your buttocks.
- Your force should go right through your opponent, not stop at his body.
- Do not curl up your toes and put strength into the ankles.
- One cannot
attack in Kokutsu without a period of "dead" time.
- It is the
forward knee which "pulls" the body.
- Never put force in your shoulders, but under them.
- In attack and defence, think of the rotation of the wrist, for a small force
can turn aside a great one.
- It is necessary to be always ready to block in all directions, to envelop
yourself in a sensation of defence.
- In combat, your breathing should not be visible to your adversary.
- Karate can not be understood just by looking at it, but by work from the
inside. It is not an intellectual game.
- Always keep the lips low, at the same level.
- The thumb must envelope the other clenched fingers, the little finger, being
the weakest, should be folded first.
- Between block and counter-attack, the fist should remain firm, with gradations
of the concentration of force invisible to the adversary.
- That which is essential is not the quantity or the beauty but the quality.
- It is necessary that those whom you meet to train you are not merely pleased
to see you, but have respect for your efforts and intentions.
- It is the body and not the head which should remember the order and the
development of a Kata.
- One should not stop breathing during a Kata, a Kumite or an attack, neither at
the impact nor even afterwards.
- Try to find which is the strongest Oi-Tsuki or Gyaku-Tsuki.
- The power of the Hikite (withdrawing the arm to the side) should be greater
than the attack or the block. Should the forearm be horizontal, downwards or
- The Kiai, an element of respiration, is just a consequence of the union of
moral, psychical and physical force at its culminating point.
- An effective action is always apparently simple, without particular force. A
due amount of force should be employed in Kime.
- One blocks with the body, the arms are accessories.
- Is the force of a Tsuki at middle level rising, descending or horizontal? Is
its maximum efficacy the same?
- When making several attacks in pursuit (in the middle of Heian Shodan, for
example), your buttocks when viewed from the back should not appear to move.
- It is not a good thing to think of nothing but Karate, to make it an
obsession, it is better to train everyday with sincerity and develop your other
faculties for the rest of the time . . . for this is also part of Karate.
- The three elements of good Karate are speed, power, endurance.
- In each Kata, each Kihon and each Kumite, it is necessary to try and discover
something and to have the impression that one has found more than in the last
- Kime is the penetration of the wave of Ki, or vital source of the body, in
both attacking and blocking. Without Ki, without Kime, there is no true Karate
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