I’m “supposed to” have learned only two new kata – namely, those needed for my next belt test. Somehow I’ve accumulated five (three of them very recently). I’m enjoying the new material, but at the same time I am now experiencing the reason why we generally focus only on one or two kata at a time. It’s tough giving proper attention to the two katas I’m supposed to be polishing while I’m learning three more and reviewing all previous kata just in case I have to teach them to a junior. My family is now used to me periodically dancing around the living room clutching notes and muttering to myself. The next-door neighbors hurried their children inside when I was doing this in our driveway.
Yes, at this stage, the two kata I will present at my next belt test need refinement. In case you’re wondering, they’re Nijushiho and Rohai Shodan. No, I’m not satisfied with how well I perform them. And no, I’m not bored with them – in fact, I’m getting fond of Rohai Shodan. Am I a glutton for punishment? Nope. Kata is fun for me. All those reasons are definitely not why I’m tackling three “extra credit” katas.
Two of the three “extra credit” katas are part of my Karate heritage. I am very fortunate to have learned them, as they are dusted off only every once in a blue moon and not widely taught. We’ve borrowed a lot of our katas and perform them in the style they came from, but we have three that are our own – Tai Sabaki Shodan, Nidan, and Sandan. I’ve learned the first two of the three. They are simple to learn but difficult for an intermediate student like me to execute beautifully. I suspect these three kata are designed for us to “grow into” them. I’ll probably learn the third at next month’s visit to Major Employer’s Club Dojo.
The third “extra credit” kata I’ve learned, Jion, is for the test after my next belt test. Someone was in the mood to teach it, asked me if I wanted to learn it, and I happily accepted the offer. Just a whim. I hadn’t paid much attention to others when they were practicing this kata, but once I started sinking my teeth into it I started loving it. Loads of people hate it because of this, that, and the other. But I think Jion is pretty nifty.
Yep, my brain is jelly. I’m not quite in over my head, but I’m darn close. On the other hand, I absolutely do not have any excuse to skip practicing outside of class time. I have plenty of material to play with – 16 kata in all. Five kihon kata. Five pinan kata. Bassai Dai, Nijushiho, Rohai Shodan, and Jion. Tai Sabaki Shodan and Tae Sabaki Nidan. Maybe I’m not “supposed to” do this. But on the other hand… Something has changed.
I’m making connections between what I’ve learned previously and new material. Embusen and bunkai are more important to me now. I’m taking copious notes so I don’t have to rely only on faulty memory. My dyslexia is minimized as I learn how to learn. I’ve even noticed I’m picking up Zumba movements more easily than ever, and I only do one Zumba class per week. Somehow I’ve made some sort of a leap forward.
I’m loving every minute. Attitude is key. I love the challenge. I love the art of performing, the raw brutality of bunkai, the fierce joy of it all. It’s passion that drives me to practice, sometimes spending big chunks of time on one sequence or even one or two movements.
I have a feeling that I’m very close to biting off more than I can chew. But I also know that as long as I employ a good bit of time management skills, balance my priorities, and keep a good attitude, I’ll be OK. Just so long as I don’t trip over furniture or step on the dog while I’m dancing around with notes in my hand…