Wednesday 5 October 2016

One? A handfull?? Or heaps??

Movement one of Shotei (dai) kata: Migi zenkutsu-dachi, migi kakuto jodan age-uke.
Every month I include one or two non-syllabus kata in my training. At present, my focus is back on ‘Rakuyo’. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this kata, the name Rakuyo implies a leaf falling from a tree. The leaf falls lightly in the wind and effortlessly flips and turns around, eventually reaching the ground, and landing gently.

Accordingly, this means that Rakuyo, like the other koten-gata, is extremely relaxed and natural. Kime is achieved not by muscular tension; but, rather, by using the whiplike snap of the joints and decisively arresting the technique in the correct positions naturally. This is really useful as I am recovering from a serious injury.

Joko Kata: 'Advanced kihon development kata'  if intrinsically understood.
In Rakuyo, the similarity to mainstream Shotokan is the maintenance of correct shisei (posture), kihon tachikata (fundamental stances), unsoku (footwork) and waza (technique). However, the techniques take a step up ‘application-wise’ and are, thus, more challenging.

Probably the most challenging 'technical point' for non-Japanese karateka is kakato chushin and, in relation to this, use of the vertical, horizontal and diagonal axises.

Yes, it is true that you don’t need anything outside of the standard Shotokan kata to acutely develop such points; nevertheless, practice of such kata can catapult one’s development forward and can also be very motivational.

Training, in my pre-teens, teens, 20s, 30s and now in my 40s, I feel just as motivated as ever in my Karate-Do: if not, even more `driven’! Kata such as Rakuyo are at the centre of this motivation; because, in addition to standard Shotokan, they trigger accelerated technical skill: via placing the bar much higher. This accelerated skill development is very satisfying, and additional technical variations always keep things interesting.

Like the majority of traditional karateka, I believe one kata, or a small handful of them, is more than enough. That being said, one can be a specialist in one or two kata, and also train more broadly at the same time. This approach, has greatly helped me as an instructor, over the years, to help my students and trainees according to their needs; moreover, in accordance to what they want from Karatedo.

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2016).

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