Kiai (Spirit Shout)
Kiai is a fundamental aspect of pretty much any martial art. Kiai literally means “Spirit Shout” and is often labeled as the “hi-ya” of Karate. Kiai is a loud shout which should originate in your belly. It’s purpose is to help generate and unleash power (much like grunting when you pick something heavy up), startle your opponent (if you have ever come face to face with a good kiai, you can attest to this), and to toughen your body so if you fall or get hit the wind does not get knocked out of you. There is more to a good kiai than a simple yell and it often takes years to fully understand the power beauty of a good kiai.
Kime is the focus of all your efforts into a single split second. In other words, it’s the culmination of breathing, stance, hips, kiai, muscle tension, and technique all into the split second of contact. Kime is the key to the strongest, most decisive, technique possible. This is the hardest concept to teach and is something a student will slowly grasp through consistent training.
Distancing is (for obvious reasons) one of the most important aspects of winning a fight. You have to know what your particular distancing is and you have to know how to keep your opponent there. You can’t kick someone who is six inches from you and you can’t punch someone who is three feet from you. On the other hand, ma-ai is the probably the most important defensive aspect. If you stay out of an opponents range, there is no need to block. Ma-ai is also extremely important in everyday training. To be effective, safe distancing must be used in partner drills. Kihon kumite is a great way to become familiar with this.
In Karate all of your power starts below the waist. A student must learn to use his/her hips to have strong, fast technique. However, it can be a very difficult concept to grasp for some people, and for others they pick up on it right away. Between counter rotation, rotation into the technique, back and forth movement, as well as others, the use of koshi can seem like a daunting task to master. When the concept is learned however, the power and speed of each move will be like none you have previously experienced.
Kazushi is the breaking of balance. If you manage to take you opponents balance, you have put yourself in an advantageous position to strike while at the same time taking away his ability to strike effectively. Kazushi is created in a number of ways from shifting your stance, attacking the legs, a push or a pull in a certain direction, ect. Kazushi is key to practical self-defense.
Mushin (No Mind)
Learning to block/counter and attack the moment an opening appears without thinking and without hesitation is the pinnacle of martial training. This is what every Karate-ka should be striving to obtain, thoughtless thought. This is only learned though building muscle memory and constant training.