5 Core Habits of the United Ryukyu Kempo Alliance

I have been told that our dojo, as part of the United Ryukyu Kempo Alliance, is very good at kata. What is kata? As Kaicho says, it is an exercise of habits. Kaicho teaches five core habits which he learned from his teacher, Oyata O Sensei.

The five Core Habits, also called Core Principles, are:

· S.I. Structural Integrity

· Coring

· O.P.E. Observe, Plan, Execute

· E. & P. Efficiency and Proficiency

· Weight Lead

These habits can help the martial artist go from following and imitating, to applying having a deep understanding. When we focus on using these core habits in our kata and other techniques, we become much stronger karateka (karate practitioners). We can also use them in all areas of life, even if we are not karate practitioners.

First, I’ll start with descriptions of how martial artists may use the five Core Principles.

Structural Integrity

Structural Integrity is highest in our moves when our body, and our extremities are in a strong position.


Coring uses Structural Integrity while making a safe place for yourself by positioning your arms in a strong guard position. We can use the 18” rule to make sure hands and arms are not going wider than the body into a weak position. Good coring is also being aware of the Weight Lead, keeping in line with using a strong stance to get the arms and hands into the strongest alignment.

Observe, Plan and Execute

With the O.P.E. habit, martial artists constantly observe themselves and others during their training. They observe their surroundings in daily life. They also consistently plan what to do in various situations. That way, they can execute their technique immediately when needed.

Efficiency and Proficiency

To use Efficiency and Proficiency, do not waste time, space or energy. Observing your Structural Integrity and Coring, as they pertain to movement of the body, will help you apply the E & P habit.

Weight Lead

Weight Lead is the deliberation of a movement or technique and the ability to follow through with it. Strong weight lead means you can stay your course and follow through.

Applying the Core Principles to a Too-Busy Life

These principles can also be translated to help in any area of life. They can help anyone, not just karate practitioners. Let’s consider today how the principles could help someone who has an ongoing schedule that’s too busy with too much on their plate. I don’t necessarily mean this personally, but for now we’ll call this person “you.”

You might use the Observe rule to notice that there’s a problem. Maybe you’re always in fight or flight mode and you need to come up with a Plan to get over this. Never fear, you have the five Core Habits to help you plan.

In an overwhelming situation, you need to get back to basics by using Coring. Get grounded. Clear your schedule to return to your center. Then figure out a way to do this regularly. Maybe create a rest day once a week. Even half a day can help. Remember, you first need to take care of you and your minor children (if you have them). Next priority is working together as a family unit with your spouse (if you have one). This is essential. And it’s your responsibility. First and foremost, make sure your immediate family unit is taken-care-of.

You can apply Structural Integrity to your schedule to improve it. Figure out what type of Weight Lead your life allows you at this current time (what are you sensibly able to follow through with?). As always, prioritize the most important things. Then make your schedule more realistic, cut some things out and say “no.”

Plan for the Priorities

Also, you can apply Efficiency and Proficiency to your regular activities. Perhaps you can pursue help from other family members, maybe your older children, or even friends who might be willing to help. They might help with figuring out and/or preparing the family dinner a certain number of times a week. If Wednesday is a particularly busy night for you, you might see if a grandparent is willing and able to pick up the kids each Wednesday, supervise and feed them dinner. A family member (immediate or extended) or friend might bring a child to their games or extracurricular classes.

Once you have your Plan, with the Core Habits in mind, the only thing left to do is to Execute it.

-Jenifer Tull-Gauger


Jenifer Tull-Gauger knows what it’s like to be an “old soul” and a painfully quiet kid struggling to fit in. Her journey to 7th degree black belt is a testament of how she found inner strength through traditional karate. Now in leadership for the international U.R.K.A., she heads up a private dojo with her husband.

Jenifer combined her passions for art and writing, with what she’s learned from 23-plus years of teaching karate, to create a children’s character-building picture book series. The Dojo Kun Character Books help children to find their own power in their lives.  JeniferTullGauger.com

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