Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kata a Lifetime Study

It is difficult for anyone in the beginning stages of training (say the first 5 years) to understand what a lifetime of kata study entails. It really is not enough to just perform your kata continually. So let’s consider what the study might mean.

First, at about 10 years into the study of a kata, you will have enough repetition so that your muscles are relaxed and fluid when you move. This means your body is more fluid and through relaxation of your natural tension your center of balance sinks automatically, This in turn causes you to increase your power automatically. At this stage you begin to realize what power the kata develops. There is no short cut to this, focused practice will help, but this comes in time, each person in their own time.

The increase in power thereby can transfer into the application realization of the kata techniques.

There are a number of practices which can aid you to develop much more understanding of your potential. They are individual study choices that will enhance your understand of the kata too.

First, I suggest you practice you kata stepping and stances by performing the kata with no hand ictig techniques, your hands chambered on your hips. Restricting the hands through immobilizing them forces you mind on the stqances and stepping. Through focusing on perfect stances you develop them more strongly. I can’t stress enough how important solid stance development is for the development of your technique. At the same time the manner of stepping is important to strengthen too. One of the ‘hidden’ values we hold is that manner of stepping we employ is a weapons system too. Using the crescent step to sweep out the opponents leg(s) requires continual development. Taking the time to consider how to improve both stances and stepping in an important journey.

Next consider the changes that can be made to timing and/or breathing. Through changing the timing you are performing the kata with, new vistas of applications and meaning can evolve for you. The standard breathing pattern, (inhalation on the movements, exhale for the technique(s) execution) can be varied. You might increase the movements that are executed with a single breath. Discover how changes to breathing can affect the timing developed for the kata. You might explore what reversal of the breathing pattern has to offer ( exhalation on the movement sections, inhale during the techniques execution.) Further discover the changes to your kata movements timing can be used to influence your opponent’s movements.

Become more knowledgeable of the motion the kata possesses. Test how well you know the kata. Increase the techniques therein, and still perform the kata. Double the blocks and/or punching techniques for a single execution, Change the movements and discover what this becomes. For example replace the single strikes with multiple striking or add jing do (short range striking) and keep able to perform the kata. Include other techniques that come to mind. For one thing this is keeping with older Okinawan traditions such as From Mabuni Kenwa’s “Kobu Jizai Goshin-jutsu Karate Kempo’ 1933 (1) where a kick not in the kata is inserted into the application. Others have described this such as Demura Fumio with his description of ‘kakushite’. Or you might change the lower body movements such as change a step into a low side kick and step. This of course adds another layer to your study, such as increasing your ability to retain your balance. There is no limitation to the changes you might use, the goal of course is to retain the kata in your mind.

Yet other options include 1.) Doing the kata in mirror image, 2.) Doing the kata in reverse mirror image,    3.) Doing the kata with replacement stepping where you remain essentially in the same spot.
These are but a few suggestions. You don’t have to use them or attempt them all at the same time. The goal is to make kata study a lifetime activity, ever remaining fresh and alive to you. What and how you practice is up to you. This isn’t to please me, but to push yourself and your awareness of the kata potential. From time to time I may use a piece of them in class, but the burden is most definitely on you.

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