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Internal Kata Competition 2013

February 2 2013

It was a fine February day when we had our annual kata tournament. The day started off with our regular training sessions which is a good last minute check up of our katas. Sensei Tohyama always trains us to the last minute by giving us hints and tips which are all essential to perfecting our kata. A lot of students began to gather around 30 minutes before the start of our tournament, a good turnout was present with everyone preparing for the big event.

Preparation and cleaning up is an essential part of martial arts training and it is good to see how these basics have transformed into a routine, thanks to strict disciplinary instructions from sensei's and senpai's from the past.

It was a pity that the turnout of the adult classes were few, however almost all the kids have participated and I was reminded of how big our dojo is.

Our first round of katas were performed in a group by belt order. It was obvious to see who had devoted to hard practice. As we went up in belt order, a clear distinction was made from blue belt members from the former groups which in a way is natural. Probably because katas get more sophisticated from blue belts. Sensei had pointed out in detail on advices to each group kata which I thought was beneficial for those yet to perform, however, people were still making the same mistakes. Nido-bumi (double stepping) was a classic example of this and sensei explained the importance of avoiding these mistakes in detail. As the belt order got higher, dynamic movements were performed and one can feel the strength in the air.

A popular member of our dojo, Ichii san's movements were very powerful..until when he slipped towards the end and made the whole crowd burst into laughter. Thank you Ichii san ... you made the rest of the kata performers nerves relax altogether and I was one of them for sure! At least your kids won the grand champion titles (well done!) so I envy the 2 bottles of sake as the prize!

Sensei Tohyama also took this opportunity to run through a few kata bunkai, explaining some movements in kata relating to kumite. One must not forget that kata is the basic form of kumite and each movement has a meaning. People tend to care less about kata which is important from martial arts point of view. As sensei said, to perfect a kata requires 10,000 practices. This means that if you do one kata 3 times are day, it will still take you 10 years to perfect it and there are over 30 katas so one can only understand the amount of time it will take to near perfection.

From this year, each participant was given the opportunity to perform a second kata which gave opportunities for students who were overwhelmed with nerves the first time round and I thought that this showed the true reflection of each students calibre. During the interim, Sensei Ukita performed Saifa and Sushiho, a shodan and 5th dan Kata respectively and the each member of the crowd had their eyes pinned to the great performance.

Very nice prizes (Japanese sake as well!) were given out to 1st and 2nd place of each belt, along with other students whom sensei's saw as good performance.

The comments from sensei were quick and simple to understand, however the depth of it is something which you cannot find in a text book. I also had the privilege of translating sensei's comments which led me to a deeper understanding of kata which I gave me that extra boost to perform adequately myself. I look forward to further kata seminars and tournaments for years to come. Special thanks to O'flynn san, Pierre and double Ichii san's for helping out enabling the tournament to run smoothly.


Joji Masumoto