Technique of the Week (Aug 7th 2011)
Slow Motion Advanced Kata Practice
Onegai-shimasu Ueshiro SRKUSA,
It is important to practice kata at different levels of speed and power as described in the Red Book: Shorin-Ryu Okinawan Karate Question and Answer Book by Hanshi Robert Scaglione. The answer to question#16 on pages 24-25 is that "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." However, often times students race through their kata, thinking that they achieve a higher level of proficiency by getting through it faster. This is not so.
To achieve a higher level of proficiency and quality with your kata, make sure to take the time to practice it in slow motion on a regular basis, especially on your own. Such slow motion practice forces us to become aware of and remain proficient with the subtle details of our kata. These details involve the four precepts studied in the Green Book: Building Warrior Spirit by Hanshi Robert Scaglione. These precepts of Gan (targeting), Soku (footing), Tanden (driving momentum from the hips), and Riki (snapping/exploding) manifest themselves in our kata and can be practiced to very advanced levels through slow motion. Other martial art styles such as Tai Chi embrace this as well.
Examples of advanced details one should pay attention to during slow motion practice include but are not limited to foot placement (including width and length of stance), balance including shifting of body weight (and how much on each leg), height changes, knees, hip movement, chambering, arm path/coverage, elbows, shoulders, wrist turning, head turning, transitionary movements, timing of all of the above, etc...
Domo Arigato Gozaimasu
Shorin-Ryu Karate USA