Classes often begin with the Three-Minute Exercise For Health.
It is intended to warm and loosen the muscles and to practice mind-body coordination. You should be able to pass a ki test done at any point during any of the exercises.
All exercises emphasize a gentle stretch rather than force or compression. For instance, in tilting the head forward and back, think of stretching the front of the neck rather than concentrating on forcing the back of your head into your shoulders.
Although count and motion may often appear to occur simultaneously, the count comes first, then the motion. This is the same concept as waiting for an attack, then responding to it. For shokyu and chukyu tests the examiner will call the count; for jokyu (ki test for first kyu) the examinee calls the count. Exercises must be done correctly and in the proper sequence.
All movements begin on the left. One common problem is doing the exercise in the prescribed three minutes, 12 seconds. Although most students tend to race through it, it is actually rather leisurely, one second per motion. When you practice at home, time yourself to be sure of the pace and be sure to relax between motions.
The musically inclined may notice that the exercise is in simple 4/4 time: each component takes 16 beats (4 measures). Try humming along with a low, leisurely Jingle Bells (where "sleigh" is the transition point) or other tune in 4/4 time.
For detailed instructions for this and the One-ness Taiso Exercise, see Tohei (2003).
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