Our grading last week (6th Kyu-Ho (green tip) for Kendo, 6th Kyu (green belt) for me) meant this week we embarked on learning a new Kata. Thankfully the first few kata for our style of karate follow set patterns. The first 6 steps for the new kata being the same as the previous one. Phew!
Having to learn a new kata has had me thinking about something that I deal with a lot in the college where I work. We have student study mentors here at the college who will do this neat little trick called “Diagnosing your learning style”. Basic theories of learning style claim there are three kinds of learners:
Visual learners – people who learn best by looking/observing
Auditory learners - people who learn best through listening
Kinesthetic learners– people who learn best through doing/experiencing
There are all sorts of little tests you can take to see which category you fit into (you can even take them online if you fancy a go, here). For me, I'm somewhere between visual and kinesthetic. I learn best by observing, then doing. When it comes to kata, that means I need to watch, then do, then do, then do, then maybe watch, then do, then do, then do...until I run out of do time, then I could probably do with doing some more. When I'm not actually doing the kata then I see it in my head (great for whiling away waiting time and particularly useful for distracting yourself from the sensation of getting your teeth drilled by the dentist as I discovered last Friday. Bunkai (application of kata) dental style! Kendo is even more of a kinestheic learner than me. He really needs the "do". What he doesn't like is to see other people doing other things at the same time. That visual input detracks from his learning.
The great thing about last nights class was getting instruction on the new kata from two different instructors. I find it really fascinating how people's interpretations differ, and how they impart that knowledge to others differs. For some parts of the kata one persons explanations for one part made perfect sense to me while other parts were a left a bit cloudy. Swapping to a different instructor....the cloudy parts start making perfect sense with a different way of seeing it. Things slotting together with knowledge from different people. Brilliant.
I think I'm finally getting the kata pattern to stick. There'll need to be much more "doing" before it's ingrained in my noggin for good though. I guess that means I need to get some more toilet time in. I know, sounds weird, but I have to confess that the loo at work is where I manage to get most of my kata practice in. I'm not talking big communal loos with cubicles.... the nearest toilet to my office is a massive disabled one. LOADS of room in there. So usually once I'm done and washed up I whizz out a quick kata run through. Do that every time you go the loo (which is a lot in this office -we drink a lot of tea around here ;)) and it soon sinks in. I can't help but feeling practicing your kata in the loo might somewhat go against the karate nature, but hey? Working mum of two here - I've gotta take all the opportunities I can!
Other than the new kata last night's class also held the new experience (for me at least) of attending a class with different age groups in attendance. Clearly I've been spoilt rotten by the adults only class with a top headcount of 9 people (including all the instructors!). Some of Grace's class came to the Sunday class for their grading (4 of them, including Miss Grace). Blimey, it's a whole different ball game! I was terrified I was going to smack one of them in the top of the head with a side back fist! Then there's the kicking - not so much fun when their heads are right in line with where your feet are going to be! It's a bit embarrassing when they put you to shame with their stances and basics too. Then there's the kumite. Shihan had us all do light sparring (big ones versus the little ones). Man, they're vicious! They certainly love those round kicks too, I've never block so many in my life. Grace got to see Kendo and I sparring aswell which was quite funny. I think she liked that a little too much ;)
The good news was that they all graded to 6th Kyu-Ho, even Grace who struggled through with a very sore right foot from getting an accidental hot tea v small person scalding on Saturday afternoon (yikes). So Grace is all caught up with Daddy now. I better watch my back, she'll be chasing me down now!
Grace's sore foot means no karate class for her tonight. Grading with adults and a couple of small kids is one thing. Letting her loose in her own class with 32 stomping kiddie feet running around is a bit more risk than I'd like to take with her sore foot. Bad news for Gracie, good news for me as it means I get to go to the Monday class today which I don't normally do. Hurrah!