Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Kata: Unravelled

Learning kata for me has always been quite formulaic.

First I get to grips with the pattern step by step, turn by turn. Then I nail down the strikes and blocks. Then the stances. Then the little nuances of the kata that make it finished. Then the intensity and kime needed appropriate to the sections.

I've been back to training for almost a month (yes, I've been back and so far stayed back (except this week where I missed class because I was off work sick and my Mother always told me if you can't go to school, you can't go out to play ;)).

What I've discovered returning to the Dojo after my year long hiatus is that the process for unlearning kata seems to unravel in a similar vein to how it is learned in the first instance.

There is a Friday evening class now specifically dedicated to kata. A great opportunity for me to see where the land lay with my kata having missed so much training.

Interestingly, for my lower kyu kata I still (mostly) had the patterns and movements and some of the intricacies down. The thing that was evidently missing was the intensity.

For the higher grade kata my learning had unravelled to the point that for some of them I struggled even with the pattern. That meant any hope of intensity, intricacy, stances, blocks and strikes was long lost. It's pretty much impossible to be intense about a kata when you can't even remember which way you're supposed to be facing!

So begins the (hopefully-not-too) slow process of piecing my kata back together. I've decided to focus on them one at a time until I can drag them back to a place worthy of my shodan belt. First up, Bassai Dai. Wish me luck, I may need it!


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

To (re)begin at the beginning.

So, confession time.

I don't believe I have set foot in a dojo for over a year.


I decided in January last year that I needed to take a clear cut break from karate training. I'd been dabbling on and off for months but couldn't seem to get a grip on it. Work commitments skyrocketing alongside other health stuff meant I couldn't give it all I wanted and then felt guilty about not being able to fully get committed to training. I emailed my Shihan and told him I was taking a completely break for a few months.

A year has passed.

I honestly don't know how that has gone so quickly. Literally blink and you've missed it.

A year on and am considerably wider around the waist and considerably less fit than I was when I was at the height of my training. I've been dabbling with running (not great for my knees) and weight training (not great for my boredom level) and can't seem to get to grips with anything fitness-wise.

Still, at the back of my mind, the little inner karateka niggles at me. Can you ever really turn it off once it's awake? Martial arts scenes in TV programmes, videos in my YouTube feed, articles from long forgotten sign ups to martial arts newsletters in my inbox. Every where I look and listen it's whispering at me.

So, after my year long hiatus, I am heading back. I have dusted off my gi, Facebook messaged my (long-suffering and very understanding) Shihan and made arrangements with the husband for childcare duty. I am dojo bound this evening.

I. Am. Terrified.

A year is a long time with no karate practice. I find myself endlessly trying to run through kata in my head (and some of it is far too murky for my liking!).

After some stern self-talk and some deep breaths I conclude that the only route forward is through Shoshin. Beginner's mindset. Forgetting all that's gone before and focusing on relearning from the start. Re-beginning, at the beginning.

The journey of a thousand miles, and all that good Eastern proverb kind of stuff.

Report to follow....


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Maira Gall