Kihon – The Foundation Level

What is the foundation level?

The foundation level succeeds the physical preparation in the pyramid model.

The Japanese term for this foundation is kihon.

The foundation level in martial-arts consists of their basic building blocks: individual techniques of kicks, strikes, locks, throws, stances etc. Such basic techniques are the components of performance at higher levels.

The foundation level and its individual techniques are enormously important. An individual technique such as a punch or a throw might prove crucial in winning a real fight or sparring. Furthermore, faulty or imprecise performance of such techniques will hinder progress.

Many martial-arts have a detailed traditional level of fundamental movements. This is not the case in Ninjutsu. Most of the knowledge was concentrated in fixed movement sequences (Katas). The foundation level in our dojo is in fact artificial, and intentionally created. Doron Navon and his peers in Israel and Japan isolated basic moves of the Katas and thus filled the foundation level, the kihon, with numerous individual techniques that may be practiced one by one.

Feedback from higher levels improves focusing on the important basics

The model offers two options:

  1. Deconstructing movement sequences into single components, thereby enabling selective training;
  2. Using the results, the individual techniques, in order to introduce change and construct new sequences;

An example of deconstruction and practice: When I participated in competitive sparring as a child, I realized that a certain movement sequence is actually an advantage. Trying it myself, I failed. Later I did the natural thing for many martial-artists – took this sequence apart: gliding step, forward punch, and spin-kick while diving down. Deconstruction was followed by practice. Most of the components of this sequence were easy, but the spin-kick combined with the fall was complicated, so I concentrated on that crux. Understanding needs on the higher levels should induce systematic practice at the foundation level of those techniques that constitute an advantage.

Reasons for focusing practice on individual techniques

Performance can be honed and enhanced by first practicing the individual technique. Technical inefficiency and faulty performance are often the result of inadequate practice of basic technique. In cases where progress ceases and performance is weak at the sparring level, practitioners should back down two levels and check the performance of basic moves. If that is where the problem lies, practice focused on individual basic techniques will prove fruitful at the more advanced levels.

Correction at the lowest level

As in the physical preparation level, both the instructor and the student aim to locate the lowest level where faults appear, and correct them at that level. Namely, movement problems should be solved where they first appear. If even after a proper physical preparation, the sparring practitioner has difficulty with throws, practice of throw-components on the foundation level will improve performance at the higher levels.