We were in our Saturday mixed belt class practicing kata. As usual we begin with our basic white belt kata. Sensei had us all run through the kata—some in the class were thinking that as we get to the higher level katas the lower belt students in class will soon drop out and watch as we show off how many katas we know…
The class did not go in that direction. Here was the entry to a fun and challenging class for all who were participating. After running and announcing the moves of the basic kata, Sensei asked us this question: “Who knows this kata really well?” Of course most of knew we were in trouble, even black belts, if we were being judged by Sensei’s standards for a basic kata. Again we were not going to show off and we were not being singled out for a critique in front of the class. That was not the drill for us—we were to learn the importance of practice and referencing and self-discover how well we knew the kata. Sensei did not even have to tell us—at the end of this drill we all knew.
Like all good students everywhere, we went through the kata with Sensei calling out the 16 moves in the kata. The refresher is always good. No one in class was a white belt and all were at least two belts past white belt. We could comfortably say it was an “easy” kata for us to perform. No one in the class questioned the moves, the timing or sequences.
Now for the drill…we divided the class in half (safety first) and spread out on the floor. Facing our original direction we were asked to perform the kata with our eyes shut. As expected the class did not all end the kata facing the same direction. The other half of the class then had the same experience. We did the same kata in the same way in two other directions. After that experience we learned what was lacking in our kata and how to train better. We had not even moved on to the next katas in our system.
Do you want to know the secret? Practice the kata and reference the feet and you will stay on course—no referencing of the feet and this drill is almost impossible to perform correctly.
How well do you know your kata? Can you pass the blindfold or eyes closed test? Do you practice in different directions? See you in class soon as we are sure to run this drill again in the future.