Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kata - one approach

Tekubi Gatame - wrist lock

opening move in kata Jion

Everyone has to start somewhere, and what better place to start than learning the correct mechanics and fundamental principles of each technique as practiced in solo kata.

This ingrains the correct feeling, posture and execution of all techniques without the added pressure of a live opponent which for a newbie could be overwhelming.

From there you can graduate to complaint and then non complaint partner drills which will eventually lead to kata sparring.

This way you get an excellent grounding in the fundamental basics of karate technique before you go off to attempt your own customized version in accordance with your body type and its strengths and weaknesses.

We all know that misinterpreting the principles and mechanics of a technique and practicing it the wrong way (your own way and not the right way) could takes twice as long to fix if not longer than learning it right from the start and then customising it to suit you the individual with all the proper mechanics and principles in place.

"In spite of actual fighting always being different, the principles of kata never change." Gichin Funakoshi

And when your technique feels off its back to basics and build up from there again, no matter how advanced you maybe. In karate, kata is a invaluable tool that is there just waiting to get tapped into, it can be your coach or teacher (provided your advanced enough).

"Perform kata exactly, actual combat is another matter." Gichin Funakoshi

There are many approaches to bunkai and oyo kata applications, these are my thoughts.

1. Kata is mnemonic, so applications (oyo) differs from analysis (bunkai).

2. The movements in kata are not meant to be used sequentially in a real encounter (fight) as shown in the kata embusen and the way its practiced solo for grading / training or competition, but there are many combinations in the kata that maybe used sequentially if the first movement was successful.

3. For shotokan kata in most cases every time a movement is performed slowly it signifies some form of grappling or throwing.

4. The direction of the movement should be obeyed for the principle to be successful, eg. lets look at heain nidan the first movement looks like,

a. Head cover but you also drop or change elevation and (move in on the inside) slide into the attack.
b. This could also be an arm bar.
c. A clinch and upper cut.
d. Breaking a wrist lock.
e. Breaking a bear hug from the rear etc.

No matter what you may come up with the principles within the kata should be obeyed in the first instance.

5. You are only fighting one person in kata not many.

6. Don't be deceived by the technique itself you maybe be performing something unexpected or completely different to what you think you are doing, not all is as seams.

7. There are many judo throws and crude grappling of all sorts in the kata, so dont just think kicks punches and blocks.

8. One technique has many applications, eg in shotokan age uki, uchi uke etc appear many times in the same kata and other kata, they have not all got the same meaning, even though you are performing the same technique, i.e. it only has to be shown once not many times if the meaning is the same, eg hean shodan and age uke and or sh!to uke.

9. The techniques have added aesthetics an training tools, eg deep stances etc, these are not required for the technique to work unless you are tripping or throwing, then they should be considered.

10. You don't not have to follow the embusen to get to the next technique, sometimes you must compromise.

11. Be ready to improvise and change technique, strategy and tactics in an instant.

Mens team kata - Unsu

sensei Vince Morris demonstrates kata bunkai - Nijushiho