Anyone who has read the Malcolm Gladwell book, Outliers, will recognize it as a reference to him when I tell students to count on 10,000 repetitions before they master a particular karate move. There is truth in that, but with a caveat.: Practice does not make perfect, unless you have the proper feedback to correct errors and reinforce correct performance.
World class Olympic down-hill skiers have coaches correcting them. The top Major League Baseball players, making $29,000,000 a year, have a batting coach who keeps them swinging well. Even with talent and years of experience, a coach is invaluable to an athlete. The same is true in other walks of life where performance is measured. (Business, School, Dance, Music, etc.)
This brings us back to the traditional kata (forms) taught at Kensington Karate, that were left to the martial arts world by great masters from the past. Make no mistake, these men were fighters and tested their skills in real life. They learned and survived. The ones who did not… left us no kata! These kata serve as teachers and coaches, reminding us to focus on what works, rather than play at the fantasy world prevalent in most modern systems of fighting. But, we must go beyond the repetition. Instructors are there to ensure that students practice the moves with the right technique, safe body-mechanics, sufficient power, and correct intent.
Like the symphony conductor, whose job it is to interpret music written hundreds of years ago, it is the karate teacher’s job to interpret the coded kata to its fullest expression. “Bunkai” is the study of that process, “Oyo” is the application that results from that study, and that is what is emphasized when students reach the teen program at Kensington Karate. Some of this material is not appropriate for younger students, so Karate Heroes ramps up the scope of material and mindset concepts over time.
Encourage your youngsters to practice their kata and to focus on corrections that they received from their Sensei or classmates. (Learning how to correct other’s kata helps you with your own.) Kensington Karate's upcoming "Everyday Heroes" tournament on May 18th is a brilliant chance to seek perfection in classical kata. For more on perfection through practice, follow the link below. Good Training!