These words were spoken by my instructor this weekend at the monthly black belt workout. The focus on the session was on sai and sai vs bo applications. We practiced the kata Kyan no Sai a few times. The remainder of the session was partner drills working sai vs bo.
The class explored distancing, blocks, parries, striking opportunities. We worked on various ways to hold the sai...open, closed, one open /one closed. We defended against bo side strikes, overhead strikes, pokes to the body and pokes to the face. For two hours, all you could hear was the crack of sai hitting the bo. Music to the karate practitioners ears...
It was a great session and I am grateful for the monthly training opportunities at the Honbu.
Kata is the beginning.
As a kyu rank, I remember learning a kata pattern and looking forward to learning the next pattern. The patterns came easy to me. But did I really know the kata? The answer is NO. I knew a series of movements. It takes practice and exploration to learn what the kata is teaching. Interpretation can change over time as a result of experience, preference, physical strengths, limitations or injury.
As a class instructor, I remind the students that kata is not just for a single test or promotion. Kata requirements are cumulative. Students are expected to keep improving earlier material. A brown belt student's material should be performed with brown belt level ability.
As a black belt student, I view my kata as a work in progress. I strive to explore, improve and refine. I learned the pattern of the first kata 18 years ago. There is always more to discover and something to improve.