This video explains the different steps of learning kata, for example: direction, technique, sequence of moves, speed, power, etc.
That’s an excellent summary of the various stages of learning a kata. It is a process that takes many years and a lot of self-analysis of your own kata. I find one of the most useful tools in pushing myself forward in this aspect of karate is when I am trying to teach kata to students. The students are at varying levels of skill and interest in learning kata, and because of this I have to try to appeal to the parts that will push them individually along a little further which can be different for each student. With kids they are impatient to learn the next kata and tend to focus on the remembering the movements only. This is fine in and of itself, but over time you want to show them that kata is an integral part of karate and it is not just a set of movements performed like a dance. Kata I feel has been relegated to the level of a “must” for passing your next grading and for competition. It is not viewed as an integral part of your karate which can make both your kihon and your kumite stronger, and vice versa.
Stripping down the movements and showing the students applications for self-defence and also for application in kumite brings much more interest to kata and to deeper learning. This also forces me as an instructor to look deeper into the kata to understand more about the “bunkai” and then to build on the applications for these “bunkai”. For me, this starts at the very basic level of an “uke” followed by an attack and then looking into the use of the “uke” as alternative techniques or preparations. Even looking to the turns in kata as a device for tai-sabaki and/or footsweeps adds another dimension which tends to take many students by surprise as they normally do not see these movements or techniques within a kata.
The great thrill I get out of karate, and kata in particular, is that after nearly 30 years of trying to learn (emphasis on the trying) I find that there is always more to learn.
I am embarking on a programme here in Japan within our organisation to learn more about kata, their origins and as part of this we are reaching out to other karate organisations to learn their kata, their applications and their training methods. Our first stop on this journey begins with a trip to Kyushu to learn a little more about the Wado-ryu kata. I must say that I am looking forward to this.
Keep up the great work on the website and the videos.
Thank you very much John for your kind and well thought out comment. I definitely agree with your thoughts on the importance of the different aspects of kata. I also like and enjoy sharing the different bunkai aspects that you outlined with my own students in different classes.
Your programme in Japan to learn about kata sounds really fascinating and I wish you all the best on your journey. Let us know some of the things you learn during your study and research. What fun!!
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