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  • Writer's pictureGregg Morrison


An older student of mine is getting ready for his 8th kyu (orange belt). While he performs his kata he tends to rush and sort of plow through the moves with great power but little precision and control.

With how twitchy his movements were and recognizing his blank expression I deduced that he wasn't comfortable performing alone in view of a group. (That's a barrier we'll have to break on a later date.) After everyone had left class we looked at his hats again. It was still a bit out of control yet considerably smoother. So I confronted him again and what he said next is where we found the disconnect. He said after watching me in our video on YouTube he felt that's how fast the kata was supposed be done.

In our YouTube kata videos I perform the kata first slowly from multiple angles. Then how the kata; and here's the key, is performed at a black belt level. He felt that's the level he had to perform it to earn his next rank.

I informed him of the balance between the two and how one needs to focus on the frame first. Once he learned the degree that was expected of him wasn't so high I saw the pressure lift from his shoulders. He viewed learning kata as a ladder where it's more like a deep dive. As one advances, the kata you previously learned improve as you learn the next form; building speed and flow but also in understanding. It's not about mastering your yellow belt form and on to the next one. In essence every kata is a black belt kata.

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