Muchimi is a term used in general to describe a kind of sticky rice and it means literally that ‘sticky’. When applied to a movement within karate it refers to a heavy type of technique which feels sticky. These techniques are often used to turn the energy or force of an attack. Rather than having an explosive force a technique using the approach of muchimi gives a weighted feel of constant pressure and makes the opponent feel as though he or she is moving through syrup or honey.

This stickiness type feel weighs on the opponent leaving him or her feeling that the limbs are being weighed down. This is accomplished by a longer contact on the attacking limb and allowing the defensive technique to flow with the attack turning the force of the blow generally aside and downward with a circular motion. In applying a sticky defense we are often moving with the feel of settling our hips lower and pulling downward as we maintain a flowing contact with the training partner. At more advanced levels we see this skill applied in attacks.

Martial arts history shows us that this approach to circular defensive techniques has a long history in martial arts in general. There are many Chinese styles and forms which make use of this idea of sticky hands including the styles known as tai chi and there are some Southern styles which are famous for this approach like wing chun and the rose form and which are closely related to karate. This approach can still be seen in some traditional schools of martial art practiced in India. While this approach is not particular to karate in general and can be seen in many places, Goju-ryu is well known for using this approach and in fact a great many of the techniques in our kata have this as an okuden or hidden teaching.

Our tendency to apply this skill in defense and later in attack have led people to describe the feeling of fighting a Goju fighter as having been battered by heavy waves like trying to fight the sea. The waves are constantly falling on your kicks and punches and your limbs start to feel weighted like your uniform is wet and heavy. You end up feeling as though you have been lifting weights or holding your opponent up. Then when the attacks come, they too can start feel as though they have been driving you downward. This crashing wave feeling used intentionally to make the opponent feel as though he or she has been standing under a waterfall.

We have several ways of training this feeling in Shorin Goju one of our primary methods is through our exercise ‘limb of the mantis’ in which you will see that we are often pulling the stick downward. We also incorporate a classic sticky hands exercise similar to that used in wing chun with the slight alteration of trying to move with a constant downward pulling feel. We emphasize in our self defense training and our kata applications (bunkai) practice the idea of constantly weighing the opponent down. Students are taught to direct the force with the area around the navel at the center of gravity (tanden) in the pelvic bowl or hip region. The idea is to constantly shift that force into the opponent. This has a practical effect of generating two very subtle types of motion that are added to the technique. One subtle motion is a slight settling of the center of gravity downward. This alone causes the opponent to end up feeling a downward force anytime there is contact since the body gives a very slight downward movement which the opponent resists. The second subtle movement is that the blocking or striking arm gives a very slight downward motion to a technique so that a bit of added body weight creates a force that moves downward along with the general force of the blow. These movements are very subtle and are often not really visible and are felt as a cumulative effect. They are something that happens automatically when the student concentrates on the center of gravity and a stable posture.

Some of our blocking or redirecting techniques make an obvious application of this skill. It is in the application of this skill as a subtle constant that a fighter should try to excel. Careful study of the kata without preconceptions about the techniques contained will assist the student in mastering this skill. As the kata are studied the student should look past the obvious. Kata should be observed and experienced by the students. Watch kata closely when being performed by another and exist completely within the kata while performing it.

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