Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Heian Kata (Peaceful mind)

The five Heian Katas - the solo performance (JKA shotokan)

"There are five Heian forms, containing a great variety of techniques and almost all the basic stances. Having mastered these five forms, one can be confident that he is able to defend himself competently in most situations" Gichin Funakoshi

"To practice kata is not to memorize an order. You must find the kata that work for you, understand them, digest them and stick with them for life." - Gichin Funakoshi

"Once a form has been learned it must be practiced repeatedly until it can be applied in an emergency, for knowledge of just the sequence of a form in karate is useless." Gichin Funakoshi

The heian kata are special to shotokan because they contain nearly all the kihon (basic) waza (techniques) found in the art of shotokan karate-do, and as Gichin Funakoshi states above from Karate-Do Kyohan, once a student has mastered these kata he should be able to defend himself competently in most situations.

Learning the solo performance of each kata is but the very first step to gaining proficiency in self defence for street situations and applications.

The majority of the kihon techniques in the heian kata flow and blend from one to the other with minor adjustments and are very adaptable to grappling with strikes and even to the use of weapons.

For example just think of shuto uke or gedan barai at the half way mark, with minor adjustemnts this position becomes an excellent head guard for punches coming straight at you, with the folded arm and the point of your elbow being your knew chin.

This way you may learn to limit yourself to a few responses in a self defense situation that will cover a variety of common attacks on the street and will not leave you searching for an answer while its raining punches.

So if taken by suprise this position could be assumed using the flinch response to protect your chin and sidess of the head, leaving you free to take action as the situation demands.

The Heian kata (or any shotokan kata) can become a very valuable tool in training, sequences within the heian kata maybe broken up or isolated and then drilled as offensive and defensive technqiues against a variety of attacks.

To deal with some of the areas mentioned above it becomes abvious that the solo form of the heians or any kata is just the begining in learning the art of self defence.

The kata techniques maybe be trained and drilled in many different ways, the list could be endless here are some examples I have come across in no particular order,

1. Flow drills using kata techniques
2. Applying only the grappling applications within each kata
3. Isolating one technique or combination from the kata
4. Sequence training from the kata - including bunkai and self defence
5. RBSD theory and scenario type training using kata techniques,
....principles, tactics and strategy.
6. Other ways including oyo and kata sparring.

1. Flow Drills using kata techniques

2. Concentrating on the grappling found within each kata

3. Isolating one technique from the kata

4. Sequence training from the kata including bunkai and self defence

5. Reality Based Self Defence (RBSD) / scenario training using principles and techniques from heian kata and modern RBSD theory.