The word ‘Muchimi’ is actually derived from the old Okinawan dialect for rice cakes, which is 'Muchi' (Mochi in Japanese). So in karate, ‘Muchimi’ literally means to have a 'rice cake-like body'. If you've ever tried a Japanese rice cake then you'll know exactly what feeling this describes!
The combative application of muchimi can be very effective and traditionally, there are actually two methods of expressing this principle:
- The first relates to the level of contact made with the opponent and how that contact is maintained. If used correctly, the recipient should feel overwhelmed by pressure and unable to shake it off. Think about how a boa constrictor progressively squeezes the breath out of it's prey by 'filling in all the gaps' and you'll have some idea of how muchimi may be applied. This method is generally emphasised in Naha-based styles who focus heavily on close-range grappling and tactile-based applications.
- The second is linked to the progressive and fluid acceleration of technique, similar to a wave crashing on the beach. The energy (or more actually, pressure) is gradually built up inside the body and then released into the strike. This 'whip-like' power is very different to that produced by muscular contraction alone, relying more on the potential of stretching muscles and their associated elastic quality. This method is often favoured by Shorin-based styles, which promote swift and successive percussive impact.
Like all other qualities found in karate, there are times to use muchimi and times where other principles are applied to create contrasting feelings For instance, there are situations where you may want to be heavy and sticky, but then there are other circumstances when you may want to be light and swift. It is really the experience to know not only how, but WHEN to express these qualities that makes them practical and functional.