Five Principles for Kata Improvement/Presentation
Kata is our martial arts expression of defense against imaginary opponents. And Kata is a form of art. In our practice we will observe a relationship between kata and music. So as with the performance of music, the form must be developed through a process. The following is an outline of five principles and concepts that may be used to develop and improve kata for presentation.
In order to practice and perform kata, one must know the techniques, movements and stances involved. In this segment we will use a series of drills to help us improve the expression of precision in the kata. This exercise may be similar to practicing scales or segments in music. We will use our first form, Taikyoku, throughout this process as a tool for practice. These same principles may be applied to all the Kyu rank katas.
a. Kata – one move per count for review (observe existing conditions)
b. Kata – ½ move per count (review detailed movements)
c. Kata – stances only (review structure and balance)
d. Kata – techniques only in natural stance (review precision, loads, techniques, breathing)
e. Kata – all moves together one count (observe results for improvement)
Fluidity in kata is developed by understanding relaxation and breathing. As in music, the instrument (in this case, our bodies) must be played with relaxation to produce fluidity in the music. However, this does not mean softness. In fact, relaxation/fluidity are an essential part of Power.
a. Kata – practice the opening two sequences of the kata in soft style. (Instructors may explain simple concepts of soft style as needed)
b. Kata – practice ½ of the kata in soft style (review continuous movement, no KIAI, breathing)
c. Kata – practice the entire kata in soft style (review dynamics of relaxation)
Power is an essential element of kata presentation. Power is not only strength, but is a combination of structure, fluidity and focus. Power in music is expressed in many forms and does not necessarily mean LOUD. Soft/quiet can be very powerful.
a. Kata – one move per count. Practice the kata in tension (no KIAI, tense all parts of the body during movement, relax at the end of each sequence)
b. Kata – all moves one count. (Observe structure in stances, techniques)
c. Kata – one mover per count, tension on blocking sequences, soft/relaxed on punch/kick sequences
d. Kata – one move per count as in c.
Note: There is not KIAI when doing kata in soft style because it requires tensing the diaphragm. There is also no KIAI when doing kata in tension because the diaphragm is already tensed.
In kata, dynamics are expressed as the sum of precision, fluidity and power. Music, in any given form, is generally not always fast or slow, loud or soft. There may be combinations of each in a musical expression. Dynamics is how we begin to develop the art of kata.
a. Kata – practice the kata for quickness (not speed for speeds sake)
b. Kata – practice ½ of the kata going more slowly on the blocking sequences, and quickly on the punch/kick sequences.
c. Kata – practice the entire kata choosing when to go more slowly and when to go full speed. Consider pauses between sequences.
Expression in music and kata presentation is your own personal interpretation of the form. As in music, the same composition may be expressed differently by different musicians. The same is true for kata. You are the musician. You are performing the piece/kata – unique to your understanding and vision (visualization) of the form!
a. Perform the Kata with your interpretation / Expression.