Tag Archive for: Karate

Performing kata can be a nerve-racking experience. However, if you can maintain your composure and work your way through the kata carefully end to end you will find it a very rewarding activity.

There are some key things to consider when doing your kata. Judges do not necessarily know the kata you are performing so the way it is judged is not on the kata movements specifically but on your execution of the kata.

Key aspects such as Eye and Head movement, Crisp strikes, and blocks with balanced movement are being looked for.

Key factors:

  1. Conformance (to kata) Using the actual movements as performed in the kata.
  2. Technical overall performance
  3. Stances & Techniques
  4. Transitional movements
  5. Timing/Synchronisation
  6. Correct breathing
  7. Focus (kime)
  8. Technical difficulty

Athletic performance:

  1. Strength & Speed
  2. Balance
  3. Rhythm
  4. Athletic performance
  5. Speed & Timing
  6. Kata is not a dance or theatrical performance. It must demonstrate strength, power, and speed — as well as grace, rhythm, and balance.

If you make a mistake do not freak out. Just keep going as though you did not make a mistake. Display confidence in your execution.

Take your time, do not rush. Keep your head up and track your strikes and blocks clearly with your eyes and head. Breath throughout the kata exhaling on strikes and blocks.

The best tip for performing your kata is “PRACTICE”. Ensure you have practiced your kata again and again so the movements are second nature and you do not have to think about them too much. A great way to practice is to video yourself doing your kata and then review using an eye with the above items in mind See what you need to change and then repeat the process.

Kata is a rewarding and excellent teaching activity. Focus on the movements and techniques involved and break apart what you have, looking at possible applications.

Unfortunately, over the years I’ve noticed that many of those interested in karate in general don’t have a solid understanding of what kata is actually for and what it’s really intended to do.

Therefore, their opinions about its worth are often stalled or go off in directions that lead nowhere productive.

There are, in fact, a number of misconceptions about kata.

Among the more obvious are the following:

“A kata tells a story.”

No, it doesn’t. Combat — even a simple confrontation — is enormously chaotic and unpredictable. No “story” could be implemented that could be even remotely applicable to the spontaneity of a fight.

“A kata allows us to practice the more deadly techniques of karate.”

No, not if you’re just going through the motions.

A finger stab done 10,000 times against an imaginary opponent’s eye doesn’t teach you any more about the effectiveness of that technique than doing it once. All the kata repetitions in the world won’t change that. A kata is just a combination of techniques, randomly assembled. Feel free to create your own; it’ll be just as valuable.

Understanding the true role of kata in karate-do depends to a considerable extent on a familiarity with the three pillars that support it. Grasp these concepts and you’ll find it easier to see the place of kata in your training and to make informed judgments about its practice.

Structural Integrity

It’s easy to look at a kata from outside and conclude it’s an arbitrary arrangement of techniques. A kata has structural integrity. The movements may be fast and light, or slow and heavy, but they make sense. They’re applicable. Standing on one leg and unleashing flippy kicks at head height while rotating in a circle might look impressive, but there’s no solidity, no proper application of power. Watch a karateka do a kata and they should be balanced, their body integrated, and all parts coordinated. You won’t find them tumbling or upside down. That’s because the kata has structural integrity.

Coherence

Shin, or “mind,” is a familiar term to martial artists. In this context, it refers to the coherence of the kata. If you think of kotai as the bones of the kata, shin is the collection of muscles that allow it to articulate. Those muscles have to work in concert.

Ever see a kata in which the performer does a split or some other spectacular motion? Remember what happened next? Probably not. The movements of most contrived kata tend to be very fast and spastic. But in almost every case, if you could watch the kata in slow motion, you’d see that the move following one of those dramatic actions is weak, largely meaningless in a combative sense. The performer has to stand up or reorient himself. The kata stops, in effect. Then it restarts. It’s disjointed. There’s no smooth articulation.

In a real kata, there’s a flow. The components work together.

Intent

A real kata — one generated over a long period and by those who knew what they were doing and practiced by someone who’s been correctly taught it — has intent behind it. There’s a unifying set of principles. In some, these principles will be rapid movement, either in and out or laterally. In others, it will be a strong sense of predation — karateka doing it looks like a tiger stalking prey.

In poorly constructed kata, the performer looks like a little kid in a big toy store, his attention in a dervish-like spin. In a good kata, there’s the sense that the practitioner is controlling time and space, setting the pace. This is an expression of the focus, the intent of the kata.

Structural integrity. Coherence. Intent. These three pillars support a kata.

To kata or not to kata?

So the question comes back, is a kata worth practising over and over again. If it has the three pillars then yes. If it is made up of flashy movements that do not flow into one another and demonstrate and intention then in my opinion no it is not worth you investing your time in repeating again and again.

Any sequence of moves in a kata should be able to be pulled out of the kata and work in their own right. If the kata cannot be pulled part like this then it is simply a pretty dance without the three pillars you need. So check your kata, is it really effective or is it simply some pretty moves mashed together. Observe, question, challenge your Sensei should clearly be able to tell you the three pillars of that kata.

How do you tie your Karate belt? In my travels around the world, I’ve seen it done many different ways. The way below is how we expect you to tie your belt in class and this is the standard way expected from Yellow belt and above.

  1. Halve your belt and make sure that the ends are perfectly even.
  2. Place the centre at the level of your navel. Pass the ends around the back and cross them over. Pull it firmly.
  3. Bring the ends back around to the front and check that they are still perfectly even.
  4. Take the right hand end and pass it over the top of the left. Pass that end up under both strands of the belt and pull it through. Pull the ends firmly.
  5. Check the ends are still even.
  6. Now take the left hand end and pass it back over the right. Pass it through and form a simple knot.
  7. Take a moment to check that the strands are sitting flat and untwisted.
  8. Pull the knot tight and make a final check that the ends are even.
  9. The knot should have two folds coming together that face off to the right.
  10. On advanced belts your will see the name of the student on  the left and the name of the style on the right.

When tying the belt you must first make certain that it hangs evenly from the middle. This symbolizes the balance between the physical and mental aspects of our training. The belt is first wrapped around the waist by placing the middle of it just below your belly button.

The following video shows you how to tie your belt correctly one way.

Watch & learn:

 

There are a number of different things to look for when looking to study Martial Arts.

  1. Confidence: When you’re confident you can defend yourself and don’t come across as an easy target that most bullies look for. Also, if you have accomplished something a little difficult then you have confidence that you can move onto a new level, not just in martial arts, but in any area of your life.
  2. Defense: Learn techniques to help them defend themselves in hostile situations.
  3. Learn How to Take a Punch: The best defense in most situations is to run, flee or remove yourself from the situation. If there is some reason you have not left the situation it usually means your opponent has thrown the first punch and is on top of you or has attacked you in some way. If you know what it feels like to take a punch and keep your wits about you, you’re chances of survival are much greater.
  4. Discipline: This is another point that ripples throughout a child’s life. However, to master the different levels of any martial art you’ve got to have physical and mental discipline. Martial arts give children practice using the body and mind in harmony.
  5. Endurance: Martial arts is a sport, you build strength and endurance.
  6. Leadership: Part of becoming a yellow, purple, blue, green, brown or black belt, and higher is teaching beginning students. Senior belt students are the role models of those below them.
  7. Health: We have an epidemic of childhood obesity in this country. Martial Arts is a great way to get moving and burn off calories.
  8. Fight in a Controlled Environment: Kids get the experience of fighting in a controlled environment where they don’t get hurt (too much). This makes them safer outside the dojo if they get into a fight as they understand fighting and how to control themselves and their opponent.
  9. Situational Awareness: Studying martial arts requires that you always be aware of your environment. This is an invaluable skill to have later in life for any number of daily adult tasks.
  10. Ability to Assess an Opponent: If you can determine that your opponent is weak in an area you can use that to your advantage in any hostile environment. This is an invaluable skill.

Getting your kids into Karate and Martial Arts is one of the greatest things we think you can do for your children. It gives so much to them that they can take with them when the leave the dojo or into their adult life. Contact Sensei Chris at the dojo to find out about our kids classes and give your child a head start in life skills.