This article is the class notes for 10/07/2011. It contains:
1) Kihon Kata
2) Picking Partners
3) Naihanchi Series
4) Practicing Naihanchi Bunkai
5) Ready to Test
We continued the on going trend of practicing Kihon Kata until everyone is sick of it. My focus has stayed on practicing the application rather than worrying over the pattern. There was four of us there so we practiced the application of Kihon Kata in groups of two (trading off partners) for about the first 10 minutes of class before transitioning into Naihanchi Shodan. I want to mention that we routinely pair people up based on rank, but in the sense that I found it best to have a higher rank work with a lower rank. The obvious problem here is allowing the upper ranks to get a good challenge (and in some cases a work out). To solve this I often play the odd-man-out and rotate in and out of groups so that everyone gets a challenge and I end up getting my challenge from having to adjust quickly to all levels of skill. It is important to challenge yourself, especially as the teacher. That is the hardest part of being a teacher, especially with a gap between the next highest ranking person.
After we got done working on Kihon Kata application, we transitioned into Naihanchi Shodan application. There were two yellow belts (9th Kyu), a brown belt (1st kyu) and myself. One of the yellow belts, Brett, just got promoted, so he is new to the kata and its application. The other two have been working with me for about 8 months, so they have a lot more familiarity with the form. We went move by move, section by section, practicing the individual application of the kata rather than trying to perform the whole thing while other played the role of attacker.
For the opening move we practiced a push block while the opponent used, first a lunge punch, and then a more natural (less Karate looking) punch. We then moved on to the single, double, back fist section of the kata. I pulled a routine my instructor, Richard Hooven, likes to use out of the back of my head for this. In groups of two, we faced each other in a yoi (ready) stance. The first person would punch center mass. The second person would hook block with the mirrored hand from inside to outside. Immediately they would then hook block with the other hand, from outside to inside. Finally they would warai-uke (rolling block) from inside to outside, and then punch with the other hand. Let me Explain it a little better in example form:
Person 1: Right Hand Punch
Person 2: Left Hand Hook Block
Person 2: Right Hand Hook Block
Person 2: Left Hand Rolling Block (Rolls over the arm and then sweeps it out of the way)
Person 2: Right Hand Punch
I hope that makes it more clear. When person 2 finishes punching, person one then starts with the hook block and does the same thing. This drill then can go on forever. As we practiced I explained that there are different aspects you can focus on in doing this drill. You can practice speed and see how fast you can make contact before punching with little concern for if it is a “good” block. You can practice technique by blocking the arm completely, ignoring the fact it is unrealistic fighting. Finally you can practice giving and taking a punch. Contact is a crucial part of Karate training and I am always glad to see my students happy to get a little physical (guys and gals alike).
Ready for Your Test
The last thing I wanted to hit on in this post was one of my students “test”. I called Jeremiah up for an impromptu test of everything he knows. I have been teaching him off and on for about 7 months now. For the first 3, it was almost always one on one training with my complete attention. He has done Naihanchi Shodan techniques over and over almost every single class (when he started with me I wasn’t teaching Kihon Kata because I had enough constant oversight to work in the techniques subtly).
So I call him to the line and start running him through the various moves on my list of Requirements for 8th Kyu. His kata is great. His application of it is solid. Then we get to some sections I haven’t gone over much yet (Crescent Kick and Vocabulary). He politely stops me and says “Ted I am not ready yet.” (We go to a military school full of rank and titles, we don’t use Karate ones on top of everything else). So we bowed and that was the end of it. We finished class going over the things he wasn’t confident on.
It makes me wonder, who is to determine when you are ready to test? Is it you or is it the teacher? Teachers tend to get excited to promote people and can overlook their flaws – I have seen it before. If I promote someone, doesn’t that reflect on me – so the more I promote the better I look? At the same time, I am the teacher, who is he to say he isn’t ready?
I like to think that it is a mutual learning experience. I am just proud that I foster an environment where he felt comfortable telling me – so I could focus on really teaching him, rather than validating something with a belt.