By Sensei Randy Friessen.

Katas are not to be taken as a series of moves that you must learn to be able to be graded to another belt. They are an intricate part of karate.

Take as an example, Pinan Shodan. As a white belt you memorize the movements and stances until you can go from start to finish. Then you start to get the feel and flow for the kata in your mind. Now the kata starts to get some intensity to it. The more you practice this kata the more powerful and graceful it becomes.

You have mastered Pinan Shodan and are ready to prove it at a tournament. There you are standing in front of the center judge. Announce your kata and guess what? Now you are under pressure. You have not mastered this kata, you are happy to be able to get from start to finish. You realize this needs more work.

After more practice, and a few tournaments you have mastered Pinan Shodan. A sensei asks you to take part of the class and start teaching them Pinan Shodan. You line up the students, you are ready to start and guess what? Now you are under pressure again. You haven't mastered this kata at all. It is almost impossible to try and watch all the students, answer questions, and explain the techniques so all students can understand. You are happy to be able to keep everyone's attention until the end of the class. You realize this needs more work.

Always keep in mind that kata training includes knowing the stances and movements, the ability to execute in front of an audience and judges and the ability to pass on your knowledge to other students.

At the Grimsby Beach Summer Tournament the black belt kata competition was a dice roll. Whatever number you rolled was the kata you performed. Black belts have experienced performing and teaching Pinan katas for years. I rolled a 4, which meant I had to immediately enter the ring and perform Pinan Yodan. After bowing in, announcing my kata and guess what? With no practicing before hand, no warming up, I was under pressure again. I was quite happy to be able to go from start to finish. As I bowed out of the ring I realized this needs work.

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