3 Reasons to Focus on the Frame First
Updated: Jan 5, 2022
Much like back seat drivers, there are people who don't study in any form of martial art that believe they are natural born fighters. If you (a martial artist) ever find yourself talking technique with one, a typical response from them is "I wouldn't hit/block like that." after explaining the full frame of a technique.
When teaching new students it's crucial to teach the full frame or as I say "focus on the frame first." Also known as chambering it's usually referring to the hikite for most hand techniques however this also applies to kicks.
It all starts with our physical anatomy and structure. Practicing the frame is what separates the trainer from the talker. As practitioners we study the structure of our body because doing so fully utilizes our strength. It's why people who aren't typically very strong are able to display a suprising amount of power. They train to position their bones and joints in a way to absorb impact that could otherwise cause injury if there joints aren't properly aligned.
Picture Bruce Lee, he wasn't very muscular just fit. However because he was fast combined with his knowledge of anatomy through proper frames, he was able to show an amazing display of power, force=mass × velocity.
As shotokan practitioners we train to be able to deploy as much power into each technique as possible, strikes and blocks. Something Shihan Sensei Goral likes to say is if we're ever attacked we should be able to break our opponent's strike with a block. As a means to avoid a fight all together.
Going back to the pulling hand. The act of pulling the opposing hand in as we throw the hikite out as a punch adds power, especially when it's pulled in as fast and as strong as the punch is thrown out. Moving along the same plane but in opposite directions. The body making this rotating action is torque which adds pressure against the target. With that pressure it's all the more important to have a good frame behind it.
This combines the structure and power with practice and understanding. What the untrained don't understand is that should you need the full technique it'll be there for you. As trained fighters we grow to learn that we won't always be able to, nor should we. But If we train to use the full frame then we can use less of it. If we train only half the frame then you'll never be able to use it fully or reliably when you need it. During professional fights very rarely do you see full frames being used. Only when the opportunity is open.
These are the reasons why we are so adamant from the day someone starts training to focus on the frame first.