Martial Arts Blogs A Journey to Shodan: July 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Find the flow and paddle down the river.

Sigh. I love Empi. When I tested for my 3rd Kyu this was my grading kata, I practiced it endlessly and it quickly became my favourite, it has such great movement and flow. Of course, during the years of my 'Karate break' my body memory buried it deep and it is only in the last year I've asked it to recall this lovely Kata. I'm always told "don't think, just do" when it comes to Kata, and this is the one where I fully understand what that means. I don't think about it at all, from start to finish - it just comes to me and I do it, and it feels fantastic. Other Kata, not so much.

Since I was recently reminded to Touch the Ground once in awhile, I've again been making a point to practice all of my Heian Kata to keep the patterns front and centre. With relative confidence that they will no longer drop from my memory when I'm feeling pressure, my next challenges are to breathe properly and find the flow, my own flow, in each Kata. This can be difficult, as I begin with great intent to do this, and then before I know it I've finished the Kata. I'm left thinking: was there any flow? did I simply breeze through it from beginning to end without proper pauses and Kime? I don't remember. With time and practice this will become easier as I strive to make each Kata my own - one at a time, I'll find the flow. From there, I'll paddle down the river until I reach the end: when I reach rapids I'll 'give 'er', and when I reach calm water I'll slow down...breathe.
Simple as that.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Karate Geek

Another great Friday night class has come and gone. It was particularly great because I was the only one there! Of course it helped that it was a holiday long weekend, but for the most part, Friday night classes are not well attended. Why more people don’t take advantage of this I can’t understand – if not every week, just once in awhile – polish up on techniques that need extra work. It is the perfect opportunity to get one-on-one help, and on this particular Friday night, I learned so much it was like three weeks of classes in one.

I followed the Shodan grading sheet and went over all of the required basics. It's funny – no matter how well I think I know a technique it never ceases to amaze me how much room there still is for improvement. After two classes this past weekend full of personal attention, I feel like I have so much more control over my techniques. I learned a number of things that I believe will really elevate my overall form if I consciously practice them each class, and silly as it may sound, it's exciting! Perhaps I'm a bit of a Karate Geek...

(Some of the) things I need to work on:
  1. Gyaku Zuki / Mawashi Geri – don’t let my hand drop during the kick.
  2. All punches and blocks – in basics and kata, pull down on lats when executing each punch and block. The result is a technique that feels and looks way better (if I do say so myself).
  3. Yoko Geri Keage – draw it up properly, snap it out and draw it back to the knee quickly - don't try to make it look pretty.
  4. Heian Nidan - after the last shuto, complete the kata without pausing.
  5. Continue to practice breathing properly during kata.