In the dojo, we practice kata in several ways: technique, power, speed and kime. Last week in the dojo, we practiced our kata very, very slow. We worked on the kata Pinan Nidan. It was a kata that everyone knew and covered many of the basic blocks, strikes and stances. I wanted the students to watch and feel their techniques. We performed the kata slow and deliberate.
It was an excellent drill. One of the hallmarks of Okinawa Kenpo is rotation. The blocks and strikes rotate during the last six inches of the technique. When we performed the kata at a very slow pace, proper rotation and hand position could be observed.
The students perception of a technique can vary depending on where a student is standing in the dojo in relationship to the instructor. A student often gets the beginning position and the end position of a technique correct. It is the middle position or how we get from point A to B that sometimes gets confused.
Take for example a right knife hand block. In Okinawa Kenpo, the beginning position for a knife hand block is elbow to elbow, right hand high palm facing the ear, left prep hand pointed to the direction we are moving with palm facing down. The end position has the left prep hand withdrawing palm up and the right blocking hand facing palm out clearing the body, arm bent at a ninety degree angle with a fist distance under the arm.
But...how did we get there? How does the hand move from the beginning position to the end position. Doing the kata in a very slow manner allowed the students to closely examine the middle position. The hand is supposed to cross center line as the right hand moves across the body. Think "windshield wiper".
In some cases, the students discover they were using a "slicing" motion. The right hand sliding down the left prep arm, flattening out and rising to the end position. Think "the letter U". The beginning position was correct. The ending position was correct. However, the middle position was functionally incorrect. Moving the hand in this manner from point A to B does not cover center line and will inevitably result in getting hit.
It was a useful exercise. However, as we continue our kata training, we need to leave behind the count and the monotone. We each need to find our own kata rhythm that reflects our personal experiences, body type and bunkai.