Kata practice at home
For those who are practising kata at home, perhaps with a view to grading next March, here is the perfect video to watch all ten kata, made by the AJKF.
Click "Show More" underneath the uploader's caption and it has links to further explanations of each kata, and detailed demonstrations of important points. The top comment has time links to the start of each kata in the original video for easy reference.
Watch the detailed videos to help you with your practice, especially if you are by yourself.
For feedback on your performance your reflection in a window is best.
Points to watch for and practice:
- Correct actions, i.e. kamae, waza, footwork, so that the grading panel can see you know the kata. If you do enough practice it will shine through even if you make a small mistake on the day, and this is what they are looking for.
- Posture: make sure your kamae and movement looks like these sensei: big, accurate and straight.
- Rhythm: watch carefully when to start, when to speed up, when to slow down, when to pause; kata should not be too fast and not be too slow.
The best way to get the right rhythm for kata is to use your breathing:
- Rei - breath out when you bow. Breathe in as you come to taito. Hold your breath as you take three steps in. Breathe out as you draw your sword into sonkyo. Breathe in as you stand up, hold your breath as you take kamae, breathe out as you break kamae into kamae wo toku and take five steps back. Breathe in as you take chudan again
- Start of the kata: after the kata is announced, if you are uchidachi take a big breath in and hold it, pushing it down into your stomach. Pause and build connection with shidachi. Take three decisive steps in with your breath still held, pausing slightly when you come to distance. This is the threshold of life and death. Launch the waza and exhale with your kiai. Breathe in sharply and hold your breath as you move through the zanshin phase back to kamae. Exhale slowly into kamae wo toku and five steps back.
- Shidachi should harmonise their breathing with uchidachi as much as possible.
- Not all kata fit exactly this breathing pattern, but the important breaths apply to all: the preparation to attack and the release and reset at the end.
- "You must study this well" :)
No matter what your level, your kata should be: 正しいと強いと美しい -- correct, strong and beautiful
In Australia, the grading requirements for kata are:
- ikkyu - kata 1, 2 and 3
- shodan - kata 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
- nidan - kata 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7
- sandan and above - kata 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 + kodachi 1, 2 and 3
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