I was doing a drill for the beginners on Thursday. Basically they're supposed to surge towards the strike mitt and send a loose lunging punch at it. My green belt was doing a good job, but it looked like a Karate move. You know what I mean, when you get the muscles tightening, some snapping of the limbs, and a general deceleration/stabilization of the body.
What I wanted was a quick relaxed surge. What I got was a 'karate' punch.
This is the effect of having the constant drills where each technique is snapped into place. My position is that this kime or focus is about an end strike -- landed as an ikken hisatsu. Meaning you have launched a strike at an opponent and are attempting to sink in some serious power into the target. You've either controlled him with a grab or he can't go back very fast (because you've hit him before). So the strike, which is in essence how we drill all coloured belts needs to have the full power of the body behind it. Upon the strike, the muscles lock up so that there is power transmission from the feet sent through the entire body into the opponent.
However, what I wanted was to allow the beginners to relax into the strike. They've got to be able to keep mobile and to retain fluidity in order to deal with a dynamic situation - gauging what the opponent is doing, covering when a strike comes through, and most importantly adapting to an opponent who is out to bypass your defences and strikes!!! Without relaxedness and fluidity YOU WILL GET HIT.
To put it in perspective, the strike to end it all is what we practice throughout the beginning and intermediate stages in order that you have a clear weapon for you to use with full commitment when you don't know anything else. For beginners, this is a powerful tactic - one hammer fits all situations. But when you have some experience and you can start to gauge the opponent better, then there are other objectives to measure - certainly self protection and risk avoidance is high on that list.
So during an encounter, some less-than-full power strikes and blocks may be pertinent in order to remain maneuverable and adaptable. No tunnel vision is allowed until you are fully confident to sink that strike in.
Good luck, kids. To all of us.
Kihon Kata Koma
Charles Goodin has a related post which discusses this subject very well. It's located at Karate Thoughts Blog: No Fixed Positions. The post talks about striking from any position and the 'kodak' moment you see in kata books. Excellent.
Dan Djurdjevic from the Way of Least Resistance discusses the traditional karate punch and kime, relating it to other types of strikes in Kime: The Soul of the Karate Punch