The KBGD Stages
The physical aspects of Kyokushin Budokai Goshin Do (KBGD) have been designed to work within three interlinking aspects of training. However, in all cases the techniques are performed with ‘mindful repetition’, they are not to be simply executed while the mind is focused elsewhere, you must work to make the mind ‘in the moment’. It is at this point that the training takes on a unique quality, sometimes expressed as ‘in the zone’, by athletes. Concentrate on each technique performed as though you have never done it before; be aware of your body in space, the wind created against limbs as you move or strike, the feeling of the floor on your feet, where your head is in relation to your body, expand your awareness beyond the simple application of the technique.
Let us now turn to the physical requirements of KBGD, which as I stated are roughly divided into three areas. Each one of these reinforces and improves the other and you should not place one more highly than the others. Here is a brief explanation.
Kihon (Solo Drills)
Kihon can be performed anywhere and at any time, although I would recommend first thing in the morning and last thing at night. In the morning you can raise the tempo and utilise them as a work out, in the evening you can slow down and make it more meditative.
The specialised walking (nanba), footwork and body movement drills (ashi/tai sabaki) are designed to enhance your natural body movements. The key to KBGD is its ability to improve what you do naturally. The elbow (hiji) drill (Foundation Drill) covers most of the basic movements used with hand and arm strikes; couple these with the footwork/body movement drills and your blocking techniques (designed on natural body reactions), these basic movements allow for a flowing solo practice.
As you advance, you will learn other kihon drills in keeping with your grade.
Paired practice is broken into two levels. The first is pad work, where the single techniques are honed by mindful repetition so they can be delivered in a variety of stress situations, from a variety of positions (moving forward, or back, from being pushed while delivering, or even if the technique misses and you flow into another). Further techniques are added within the range as well as level changes of the techniques. Then other techniques are mixed in, such as a groin strike after a palm strike to the face. This mixing of techniques has extraordinary power as each technique has already been tested and developed; it is now simply added into a different mix.
Within paired practice is helmet training. This is a unique element of KBGD, where a full face headguard; with a protective face grill/screen, is used to test your techniques in a more realistic manner. While hitting the pads develops great power, students can often feel that there is a big difference when actually trying to strike someone; the distance is wrong and a human being moves in sometimes unpredictable motions. Paired helmet practice is an essential part of KBGD and is always done in a prearranged manner (yakusoku kumite). This allows you to develop a ‘go to’ technique, which is a fast practical movement that fits your body type, character and skill level and is applicable to most situations.
As you build in confidence and technique there comes a time when you will need to test your level of skill and realise what is working well for you and what needs to be developed. Pressure testing is similar to paired helmet practice, but your partner attacks you with unrehearsed techniques, however, the paired practice comes into play here as the techniques you rehearsed over and over allows non-reflective techniques to nullify the attackers techniques. It is at this point in your training that your simple ‘go to’ techniques are honed and developed. Your partner will enable you (and vice versa) by making certain that the attacks are following a realistic continuum of force thereby allowing you both to react and even anticipate any attack that may happen and apply the appropriate techniques. The realisation that within stress situations there arise the need for simplicity, this feeds back into solo practice. This is called cyclic learning.
You will notice that the lower the grade, the more telegraphed and slower the attacks are. This allows the student to gain confidence in their blocks and counters. As the KBGD student advances, so does the speed, power and ferocity of the attacks.