Sunday, August 21, 2005

some words on kata and exercise at the karate ranch

To those who are looking for a way to improve their physical bodies, we are still holding morning training at Raab Park at seven a.m. The training usually only lasts about one hour and covers running (one mile divided into four circuits), crunches (eighty of them in different positions), leg lifts (ten), circles (some), "body builders" (15 of this eight beat exercise), and squats (twenty). Also, recently we began doing pull-ups and hope to continue this practice. The training is centered on your current abilities and your own body weight. Work at your own consistent pace is emphasized rather than a short tremendous burst of effort. Improvement is "optional."

Kata is an essential part of your training and should be performed as often as possible (at least daily). One should practice the individual movements by themselves and in small sequences. For example: if you are practicing kihon kata, practice stepping back into a forty five degree shiko dachi low block with lead hand, then middle punch with reverse hand. Practice completing this sequence one hundred times on both sides.

Practicing on both sides will help you to relieve your body of stress. If you must think how you want to react, your thinking slows your body and emphasizes the separation between your mind, body and ki (or energy). Practicing movements and sequences helps unite those three forces that make you up. However, do not practice these movements without bunkai (technical analysis) of its applications. You are not simply waving your hands around. You are not simply walking around. You are taming yourself. You are harnessing your power. You are preparing yourself.

My first teacher in the Way once told me "(when you are doing kata) don't stop. If the building catches on fire, finish the kata with your pants burning." Of course, i wouldn't recommend taking things to that extreme, but certainly his words underline the serious nature of the kata. One should not perform kata with anything less than focus and determination. You should not allow thoughts of unpaid bills or girlfriends or plans for the weekend to sully your practice of the Way. Live in the moment, especially during kata.


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