June 21st, 2015
Slow Motion Training
Perhaps the most difficult way to perform kata is slow motion. I can say first hand that it is difficult for me. After just a few counts into the kata the drive to perform the kata with speed and power is practically irresistible. But for proper training we have to resist this temptation and force ourselves to take advantage of the many things we can learn as we perform the kata slowly.
In order to perform kata with speed and power, there is no alternative than to first perform the kata slowly. Every one of us when we learn a kata for the first time from our sensei must perform each move slowly. The slow execution of each move helps the body learn and remember how to perform each movement properly. It is only after we gain some mastery of the techniques that we can begin to add speed and power to the kata. It is at this point where we must force ourselves to continue to incorporate slow motion training. Each technique can only be perfected if it is first perfected at a slow speed. We can pay attention to our stepping, our chambering, our snapping the wrist at the end of each block and strike, and the fluidity of our transition between techniques. We can more easily teach ourselves to tighten the stomach and keep the rest of the body loose and relaxed. I am learning that this becomes even more important the further we advance. The more proficiency you gain in your technique the more benefit you will get from slow motion training.
We can take slow motion training almost anywhere we go. This enables us to train in places we would ordinarily not think to train. In the evening when the day has slowed down a bit, a few very slow techniques from a favorite kata in the kitchen while brewing a cup of tea can work wonders for improving our technique. Or perhaps if alone in an elevator the execution of a slow step followed by a punch or block can be performed and we can pay very close attention to execution. The training opportunities are endless.
In the Kata chapter of the Shorin-Ryu Okinawan Karate Question and Answer Book, question 16 on page 24 asks: Which speed is best to practice kata? The answer is conveniently found on page 25 which states: The best way to practice kata would be to do many at half speed and then at the end of the practice session do some kata with snap and finish up with some full power kata.
Lets be mindful of this very beneficial training technique and intentionally incorporate it into our training.
Domo Arigato Hanshi, Kyoshi, Sensei, and all Deshi.