By Sensei Walt Fast.

He worked the sequence yet again. From the end of that part, he repositioned himself and did it twice more. Sometimes he wouldn't go over the whole bit, but would catch himself halfway through. The flow didn't feel right. He did it again bearing down with the hips.

The Karateka's techniques snapped with focus on the end, driven by quick, powerful hip movements. " That's better", he thought, and continued till he completed the sequence.

"Do the Kata like you fight and you can't go wrong" he said to himself. He mulled that over for a second, then amended: "Right, as long as you don't get down right sloppy."

"Often when sparring and you get sloppy you get tagged, and you retaliate and it's gone in a second.

Sometimes you get lucky and somehow turn the misstep around...sometimes you don't.

That's what makes Kata do hard to do," he thought," every move is so visible.

When you're sparring you are having fun inventing all this stuff. With Kata there are five judges and your whole division watching. They know when you screw up.

The Karateka laughed out loud when he remembered the last time it happened. He'd been doing his Kata and had a momentary lapse in concentration. It was less than one second, and was at the end of a sequence where a pause was called for anyway. He remembered being there, and for a millisecond was not there. Then he remembered how he had exploded into the next sequence like his belt was on fire. After the kata, some congratulated him. Then there was a couple of guys who started kidding him about "zoning out". "Wow!" he thought "a millisecond of lapsed time and they still picked it up. (The turkeys!)"

The Karateka took a drink of water and thought: "Not this time, man." This time, he would show them how this Kata should be done. He would blast it... with form. This time he would smoke it, as if he were actually sparring, as if his life were at stake.

His time was up. He strode up confidently, but not with a swagger. The kata would practically do itself, that's how ready he was. He bowed slowly and announced his Kata.

One second passed, then two.

On the third, the Karateka exploded into action. Sequence after sequence flowed like water from his body. There was no tightness in his movements, it was pure energy and techniques come together. It was like he was actually fighting and inventing these techniques and movements in response to an opponent.

The Karateka relished the pure animal thrill of it. He drove the second to last series of moves, realizing that the power in his movements was awesome, yet controlled. This he knew was a culmination of all that hard work. This is what he'd strived for. He'd always loved sparring, and had come to terms with Kata grudgingly. It's only in the last five years that he'd been able to put that sparring feeling into his Katas, and now he was reaping the rewards. "Form and Function" come together at last!

Then there was silence. The Karateka almost wondered why it was so quiet, 'till his eyes slowly focused on an object four feet directly in front of him. That object was the head of the Sensei center judge, his calm eyes staring right back at his own. The Karateka's head had become a vast blue sky, with not a hint of a cloud on the horizon. He not only did not know the next move, he'd forgotten Power Kata, Pinan Shodan, anything that he desperately tried to conjure up to inject into this awful space.

No use. He stopped, bowed, walked backwards, bowed again, and exited the ring.

He knew that he'd left the Kata mentally to admire what he was doing, thereby losing his focus.

He'd hit the wall called Hubris.

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