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Marc
Marc's picture
Slow movements in kata

Hi all!

I would like to know if you might have any opinion on the reason for slow movements in kata?

For example the opening movement in Heian/Pinan Yondan is performed slowly (at least in Shotokan). The back-hand block (haishu-uke) in Heian/Pinan Godan or Bassai Dai (followed by a crescend kick and an elbow strike both into the open hand) ist also performed slowly. I could give examples from almost any kata I know.

Why are a few select movements performed slowly while all others are executed with speed?

The four best answers I came across so far are these:

  1. Allow time to visualise multiple applications: The slow technique or the next one has several different applications using the same motion pattern, and the technique is not incorporated repeatedly (enough) into the kata. - But isn't that true for basically any technique?
  2. Build mental tension: The slow technique or the next one reqiures an exceptionally determined mindset. - But would that mean that I may do the rest only half dead-seriously?
  3. Build physical tension: By executing the technique slowly you allow yourself to consciously feel you muscular tension and body mechanics and therefore can practice precision in posture and motion. - But why would I do that with only some select movements and not the entire kata as a training phase?
  4. Aesthetics: The variations in speed throughout a kata evolved with respect to kata competitions where the visual appeal of the performance is of great importance. It simply looks cool and makes the next technique look even faster. - Granted. But from a practical perspective they say that in a self defense situation you'll do what you have been practicing, and that should not be slow, right?

 

If you have any other possible explanations I would love to learn them. Especially if they are in the lines of general kata analysis rules like "turning at an angle means you should position yourself at that angle to your opponent".

Thanks for your ideas. Take care. Marc

Andy_R
Andy_R's picture

Hi Marc,

I study Wado and in out Pinan / Heian Godan kata the 3rd and 6th moves of the kata are performed slowly.  These are the movement where you turn back to face the front, one hand comes to your hip and the other is across your chest.  One bunkai for this particular movement (as indicated in Iains Pinan / Heian series: The Complete Fighting System Vol.2) is a neck crank as the preceeding techniques have positioned yourslef behind the enemy.  I'm sorry but I cannot find any pictures that actually demonstrate this technique.  However, I believe the movement in the kata is performed slowly to indicate that the Bunkai should be performed slowly, if we didn't then for this bunkai we lose a lot of training partners :).

Another kata we have is Seishan / Hangetsu (i believe for shotokan practitioners) and the first half of this kata is again performed slowly.  One possible application for this techniqe is: The enemy is threatening you with Right hand, you step forward to the enemies "offside" and over hook the threatening arm, the wrist is clamped under your right armpit and your right hand grabs the back of their arm (Tricep muscle).  Your left arm swings around and hits the back of your enemies head pulling it towards you, you reach around their head with your left hand to grab the jaw and perform the "outer block" to pull the head round and back infront of you.  Again if done quickly can damage your partners neck in practice so the movement in the kata is performed slow to show that when practicing the bunkai you need to act slowly and carefully.

Practicing these motion with a training partner should definately be done carefully but in reality (providing you are of the opinion the situation warrnts it) then the techniques would be performed quickly causing as much damage as possible.  Again as these techniques are very dangerous it must be a severe situation to warrant such a brutal technique.

Hope this helps and any comments you may have are more than welcomed.

Andy

GeoffG
GeoffG's picture

I think the reason some portions of kata is performed slowly is for purely aesthetic reasons to clearly distinguish between sections of the kata. I don't agree with Andy's belief that represents the speed at which the bunkai should be performed because I think the use of bunkai in a real situation should be short, and sharp. I do accept that we should do it slowly when practising so that we don't run out of training partners.

ky0han
ky0han's picture

Hi all,

Elmar Schmeisser wrote the following in one of his books.

Slow movements mean “This is difficult.” Pay attention to this technique because it will be very difficult to pull off in the real world.

So you have to practise them over and over again until you can pull that specific technique in a real situation.On the other hand one should keep everthing as simple as possible. But the more you train the simplier it gets :o).

I like Andy's idea. A slow movement maybe indicates a lock or crank where you slightly add pressure.

That is a really interesting question. Let's see what other opinions exist out there.

Regards Holger  

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Marc wrote:
I would like to know if you might have any opinion on the reason for slow movements in kata?

Great topic to explore this one!

I think we have a number of reasons why movements may be slow in kata. These reasons have been captured above already, but chief among them to my mind would be:

1 – Someone thought it looked or felt cool when done slowly and hence they changed the kata accordingly.

2 – There are important subtleties in the movement that need emphasising and which may be lost / skimmed over should be movement be done quickly (think of it as the kata “underlining” something).

3 – The bunkai requires the motion to be done slowly in practise (to avoid injury to one’s partner) i.e. certain neck cranks. The practise of doing it slow finds its way into kata either as a deliberate reminder of the dangers in practise or, perhaps more probable, “force of habit”.

There are other possible reasons too (not all plausible), but I feel the above are the “top 3” to my way of thinking.

The bottom line though is not so much why it is done slowly in the kata – although that is very interesting to explore and can lead to some insights – but how should it be performed in application? And the answer there is always “quickly”.

Fighting slowly is not possible when the other guy is coming at you quickly! So whatever the reason for a kata motion being done slowly – whether that be a good or bad reason; whether we know for sure or are putting forward our best theory – it will always be quick in application.

Off to teach then off to Denmark!

All the best,

Iain

Goran Powell
Goran Powell's picture

In the Goju kata, slow movements tend to indicate a grappling technique rather than a striking technique, for example redirecting and seizing limbs, manipulating the body into a weak position, throws and takedowns, locking limbs and strangles. They are not meant to be done slowly in reality. The slowness in the kata simply indicates that there's likely to be some degree of resistance to your movement. Basically, your technique is not flying freely through the air, you have 'engaged' with your opponent. The slowness tells us to think about engaging our muscle groups in the most effective mechanical way to perform the technique strongly.

Not sure how much this helps with Wado/Shoto kata as I'm not familiar with many of them, but try it as a concept and see if it makes sense.

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

In our Shorin Ryu kata we have very few 'slow' techniques (in comparison to modernised kata), I shall confirm with Sensei in a couple of weeks but my understanding is -

1. some of the slow movements are there to indicate strategy, ie kamate, or perhaps sensitivity or resistance to the technique.

2. some of the slow movements are there to work balance and mechanics (chinto comes to mind).

3. some of the slow movements are there to indicate Zanshin, and sometimes symbolism - at the start and end.

4. I don't know why some of the slow movements are there.................

It's clearer in the Goju Ryu kata set IMO, internal development and grappling feature more significantly IMO.

GeoffG
GeoffG's picture

Goran Powell wrote:

In the Goju kata, slow movements tend to indicate a grappling technique rather than a striking technique, for example redirecting and seizing limbs, manipulating the body into a weak position, throws and takedowns, locking limbs and strangles. They are not meant to be done slowly in reality. The slowness in the kata simply indicates that there's likely to be some degree of resistance to your movement. Basically, your technique is not flying freely through the air, you have 'engaged' with your opponent. The slowness tells us to think about engaging our muscle groups in the most effective mechanical way to perform the technique strongly.

I hadn't considered it like that before Goran. We have a number of Goju kata in our syllabus so I think its time to revisit them with that in mind. Thanks.

Andy_R
Andy_R's picture

Hi all,

Sorry it's taken a while to come back to the thread.  I think Geoff may have misread my original post.

GeoffG wrote:

I don't agree with Andy's belief that represents the speed at which the bunkai should be performed because I think the use of bunkai in a real situation should be short, and sharp. I do accept that we should do it slowly when practising so that we don't run out of training partners.

I think Geoff is perfectly right by saying that in a real situation the Bunkai should be performed short and sharp.  In the last paragraph I said. 

Andy_R wrote:

Practicing these motion with a training partner should definately be done carefully but in reality (providing you are of the opinion the situation warrnts it) then the techniques would be performed quickly causing as much damage as possible.  Again as these techniques are very dangerous it must be a severe situation to warrant such a brutal technique.

I hope this clears any confusion.

Andy

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

One of the things to consider is that alot of kata Bunkai (IMO) is to be applied to a prone, heavily stunned opponent - then they become very deadly as fight finishiers.

This is one of the main reasons Bunkai can't really appear in most Kumite formats - the opponent isnt prone or heavily stunned.

If you consider the majority of kata footwork you will see that mobility in engagements is actually not that featured, just a little movement then finish the fight is nearly always the theme.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

shoshinkanuk wrote:
One of the things to consider is that alot of kata Bunkai (IMO) is to be applied to a prone, heavily stunned opponent - then they become very deadly as fight finishiers.

I strongly disagree with this and see bunkai as the thing that takes them out and puts them down ... not as the thing to be used when you've done the main work with "something else".

shoshinkanuk wrote:
This is one of the main reasons Bunkai can't really appear in most Kumite formats - the opponent isnt prone or heavily stunned.

Again, I strongly disagree. It appears in our kumite formats all the time. Indeed it is the very basis of our kumite.

It all depends upon how your structure what you do. If you mean bunkai does not work in sports kumite (or sports kumite pretending to be "traditional kumite") , then you are right. Just as sports techniques do not work in more realistic (bunkai based) kumite.

The footwork is also different, and I think that addresses to your third point, i.e. we are either in there doing damage, or we are running away. The "back and forth" gap-closing footwork of sport kumite or a consentual fight is not relevant or applicable.

I may be picking you up wrong, but I strongly disagree with the sentiment that bunkai is nothing but finishers when you could aready have ran away (which you could if he was already stunned or prone). That would render kata / bunkai entirely pointless. Not the "heart of karate" that we are always told it was and I belive it to be.

I see bunkai / kata as the "complete package" that should be central to training (and central to kumite) and not a pointless "add on". Also, not sure what you are driving at with the above or how this relates to slow movments in kata?

Appolgies if I'm failing to get what you mean, but as I read it I'm left a little confused and unable to agree with it. It may be that we have very different ideas about kata, bunkai & kumite? Or I may have failed to pick you up correctly? Any clarification would help.

All the best,

Iain

Mark B
Mark B's picture

Hi all,

I know its slightly off topic but the assertion that Bunkai is for use against an opponent who is stunned is strange to me , I believe the opposite is true.

I view Bunkai  as the support system to a failed pre-emption. Not only has a pre-emptive strike failed, so has awareness, avoidance, de-escalation and artifice/deception, so when it is necessary to apply Bunkai it is most certainly against an opponent who is well in the fight. If you manage to apply your KBS effectivly then certainly your opponent will be reeling in quick time, but surely from a SP point of view thats the time to escape, we shouldn't be dealing out unnecessary retribution.

Back on topic, I think most of the possibilities have been mentioned , but it can't be denied it does look good and is fun to do

All the best

Mark

GeoffG
GeoffG's picture

Thanks for the clarification Andy. I did misread your original post and focussed to much on the

Andy_R wrote:
However, I believe the movement in the kata is performed slowly to indicate that the Bunkai should be performed slowly

bit and not enough on the rest of it. I stand corrected.

Geoff

shoshinkanuk
shoshinkanuk's picture

Hi Iain,

sorry no time to talk detail - I think your misunderstanding me a fair bit on this one, the written word im not so good at! my bad  -

I said-

 'alot of kata Bunkai (IMO)'

not 'all kata Bunkai',

There is a big difference - one of the concepts we have is something called GyakuTe (Reverse hand), the concept evolves around the finishing of the opponents ability to continue once a Irimi (Enter) has happened and during that phase a strike has usually been delivered off the front hand to stun often whilst deflecting the attack, or our Uke has significantly unbalanced- or the opponent is positioned to effect the GyakuTe (many of the major breaks, throws are off the back hand with footwork for torque).

Please understand I also view this as one interesting theory, historically it is backed up by this statement, to some extent but also from many Senior Okinawan karateka I train with -

Following are twenty oral transmissions (Kuden) for the understanding of kata as taught by Kubota Shozan (a student of Gichin Funakoshi), from his student, Higaki Gennosuke: 2. Immobilize the Opponent before Striking: The opponent must be rendered into such a state s/he cannot attack again, or even move, before executing a strike or kick.

I have the full translation and will ask the source if I can reproduce it for the website, if anyone is interested in it. Granted it is but one document and one mans view (and it doesn't always support my Ryu's perspective on things etc etc).

Iain - apologies for the thread de-rail - please feel free to edit and start appropiate thread to discuss this in more detail!  

StuartA
StuartA's picture

My thoughts rest with some techniques being more dangerous than others and that, if we practice bunkai at full speed and get it, even slightly wrong, then something major can happen.

In my research, the first (real) slow motion move we come across in the TKD tul (kata to you folks) is a double palm block, which ( to me) translates nicely to an elbow break - however, by this point the opponents arm is palm up and already locked straight (due to the previous move), so with the slightest lack of control it would easily break the arm - so do it slowlt and avoid such complications.

There are other moves later that seem to indicate the same thing - slow angle punch aka choke etc.

Stuart

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Shoshinkanuk,

shoshinkanuk wrote:
I think your misunderstanding me a fair bit on this one, the written word I’m not so good at!

I agree that we must be talking at crossed purposes as the extra information does not help me see where you are coming from. I see the striking, stunning and immobilising as part of the kata / bunkai, and not something separate that the kata / bunkai needs in order to work. Regardless, I think that you’re right that this maybe something for another thread and if we explore things further we are in danger of derailing this one. Thanks all the same for the reply.

All the best,

Iain

Andi Kidd
Andi Kidd's picture

I see it as aesthetics.

Funakoshi doing Empi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjGZLa50Z_w  

Someone from the days before colour doing Empi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrG8j23WXjs  

Kanazawa doing Empi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cuRkVB-xwU  

Valdesi doing Empi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfbT6NSPciI  

 

As you go down the list the movements become more extreme in both fast and slow. Has it just ben introduced more as time has gone on?

Another consideration is Jion. If you take that slow movements mean something then when I first learnt it, the end move was slow, now it appears to be fast. If slow means something then maybe we need to see the original verion of a kata and that isn't going to happen anytime soon. They look cool but I am not sure you can equate it to bunkai that easily.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Andi Kidd wrote:
As you go down the list the movements become more extreme in both fast and slow. Has it just been introduced more as time has gone on?

Very interesting to view that time-line! I've embedded the videos for easier viewing and it obvious to see the growing influence of aesthetic considerations. Great idea to illustrate that with the videos!

All the best,

Iain

GaryWado
GaryWado's picture

 

Quote:
Hi Marc,

I study Wado and in out Pinan / Heian Godan kata the 3rd and 6th moves of the kata are performed slowly.  These are the movement where you turn back to face the front, one hand comes to your hip and the other is across your chest.  One bunkai for this particular movement (as indicated in Iains Pinan / Heian series: The Complete Fighting System Vol.2) is a neck crank as the preceeding techniques have positioned yourslef behind the enemy.  I'm sorry but I cannot find any pictures that actually demonstrate this technique.  However, I believe the movement in the kata is performed slowly to indicate that the Bunkai should be performed slowly, if we didn't then for this bunkai we lose a lot of training partners :).

Another kata we have is Seishan / Hangetsu (i believe for shotokan practitioners) and the first half of this kata is again performed slowly.  One possible application for this techniqe is: The enemy is threatening you with Right hand, you step forward to the enemies "offside" and over hook the threatening arm, the wrist is clamped under your right armpit and your right hand grabs the back of their arm (Tricep muscle).  Your left arm swings around and hits the back of your enemies head pulling it towards you, you reach around their head with your left hand to grab the jaw and perform the "outer block" to pull the head round and back infront of you.  Again if done quickly can damage your partners neck in practice so the movement in the kata is performed slow to show that when practicing the bunkai you need to act slowly and carefully.

Andy

Hello,

About Seishan Kata and Wado ryu. In Ohgami sensei's book Karate Kata of Wado ryu he says:

"The first half should be performed with tension. Tension is a way to control your muscles and yourself. If you can tense and relax you muscles whenever you want, then you are a master of the art."

When trying to understand why we do things the way we do in Wado, one has to look into its Nihon Koryu origins, as coming from Shindo Yoshin ryu - Otsuka was almost certainly well versed in a series of kata they have called "Nairiki no gyo”.

These were solo kata designed to foster internal strength / energy - through correct balance, movement and muscle tension etc - that would then be utilsed in the paired kata of the koryu. 

There is no doubt in my mind that Otsuka utililses this process in his Wado ryu kata (particularly Naihanchi and Seishan).

So strickly speaking from a Wado perspective the kata are not designed to be performed against an oponent (directly) - intead the outcome of training is deigned to be utilsed as part of the larger pedagogy of the school.

Gary  

 

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Gary,

Great to see you here! An interesting post as always, but I think there could be some taking at “crossed purposes” in this thread if we are not careful. I therefore think it is important to clarify a couple of things.

GaryWado wrote:
There is no doubt in my mind that Otsuka utilises this process in his Wado ryu kata (particularly Naihanchi and Seishan).

I get the sentiment of what is being expressed, but we need to be sure not to put the cart before the horse and be 100% clear that the kata mentioned preceded Wado and Otsuka. It could therefore be confusing to say “his Wado ryu kata” because Naihanchi and Seishan are not Otsuka’s or Wado’s. There were around a long time before that.

We have “kata as practised by Wado” but strictly speaking there are no “Wado kata”. That may seem like semantics and nit-picking, but it has very important ramifications.

GaryWado wrote:
So strictly speaking from a Wado perspective the kata are not designed to be performed against an opponent (directly) - instead the outcome of training is deigned to be utilised as part of the larger pedagogy of the school.

Again, I get the sentiment, but would challenge the phrase, “the kata are not designed to be performed against an opponent (directly)”. Particularly the use of word “designed”. Seeing as the kata were not deigned by Otuska and were around for a long time before his birth or anyone even thinking of a thing called “Wado”, we therefore can’t say the kata were “designed” for the alternative purpose yourself and some other Wado people may ascribe to them today. In fact it’s impossible to say that as the kata came first.

The point of all this being that your post does not explain “why” certain parts of kata were / are performed slowly (or the purpose of kata generally) … it simply explains an alternative use that the already existing kata are put to in some quarters. They were not designed for that purpose though. In the instance you describe the kata are being given a new purpose. That’s a very important distinction I feel.

If I use a house brick as a paperweight, that does not mean the person who made the brick intended it to be used as a paperweight. Now that does not mean a house brick won’t work as a paperweight, but it would still be wrong to explain the “why” of a house brick with the answer of “a paperweight”.

All the best,

Iain

PS One side issue that I’d be interested in your thoughts on:

GaryWado wrote:
Otsuka was almost certainly well versed in a series of kata they have called "Nairiki no gyo”.

These were solo kata designed to foster internal strength / energy - through correct balance, movement and muscle tension etc - that would then be utilsed in the paired kata of the koryu.

Why not stick with the solo “Nairiki no gyo” kata instead of attributing alternative uses to karate kata while ignoring the direct applications of those kata?

GaryWado
GaryWado's picture

Hi Iain, 

Thank you for your welcome (again) – Nice new site BTW. 

To clarify; my comments were purely related to the Wado ryu version of Naihanchi and Seishan in response to Andy's original quote – in which he mentions Wado ryu Sieshan and the slow movements in the first segment of the Kata. I was simply offering my understanding as to why the movements were performed the way they are –from a Wado perspective. 

Of course these kata predate Wado, but Otsuka’s take on them (in terms of how to utilse them within his new martial art) was completely new – it was a country mile from the Okinawan model. Perhaps he felt that within his new ma they had an altogether different value (no less important but different). 

This approach was intentionally Japanese, even the kanji he chose for the word "Kata" was different as he chose the kanji with the alternative reading of (gyo) rather than that of (Kei) as the former has the simpler meaning of shape or form, whereas the latter implies more detaiI.

Quote:
Why not stick with the solo “Nairiki no gyo” kata instead of attributing alternative uses to karate kata while ignoring the direct applications of those kata?

I have a couple of theories and they are just that, but maybe the “nairiki no gyo” were specific to the requirements of Shindo Yoshin ryu. Maybe Otsuka saw the potential of the karate kata as more appropriate vehicle for what he was trying to create.

From a marketing perspective also, perhaps he saw the popularity of karate and felt it would add value to what he was trying to create? 

Gary   

[edited becuase site didn't like my Kanji characters]

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Gary,

Thank you for the clarification and reply. Most useful. That makes the distinction very clear and has added another perspective to the thread.

All the best,

Iain

PS Thanks for the kind words on the site!

swdw
swdw's picture

Well Iain, you came the closest in your thought that it was to emphasize a movement where it is important to keep from glossing over critical details.

Here's the explanation given by Masanobu Shinjo and passed on to me. So this would be a Goju perspective on the why. But from what I've seen, I think it is a fairly universal explanation. (Note this is an explanation for the kata OTHER than Sanchin and Tensho)

Slow movements are done slowly because they rely on the structure of the move, and do so more than the other moves in the kata. The y do not rely on heavy focus or even speed in order to work correctly (although they must be performed quickly enough to match the opponents movement..)

In reality, for goju, there should be very little tension in a slow move until the end where there is a "soft" focus. Those who are familiar with Chinese arts and have been on the receiving end understand the difference between soft and hard focus and know "soft" focus can, under the right applications, be worse on the recipient than hard focus.

As for the tension in some styles when slow. I've seen so much tension applied in slow movements by some practitioners that it's teaching bad habits and actually disrupts the practitioners balance. In truth it's much easier to disrupt someone's balance whose body is tense than the indivdual who's relaxed.

Slow movements done correctly allow smooth relaxerd movement, a solid, but not heavyily rooted connection with the ground that allows easy evasion or the option of becoming the immovable object. Done correctly, you get the feel for the connection through the hips and to the floor both from either the foot or the hand performing the technique.

There are other things you learn over time, but that comes with attentive repetition.

Bridgwater Wado
Bridgwater Wado's picture

One of the problems with Kata and slow movements is that in some case you never practice them fast. Try doing all the Kata’s you know at full speed without any combination breaks or slow sections. Don’t do it with you lower grades watching as you just know they will copy you next session. Seishan Kata in Wado ryu is a particularly good example as somebody further this thread has mentioned.  The Kata will feel weird the first time you do it but you should be practicing these things full on and not just for pretty competitions. Just removing the gaps between combinations is also worth experimenting with. Slow means danger in my class when I teach Kata, neck cranking and locking etc.

Regards

Andrew Daly

Andrew Carr-Locke
Andrew Carr-Locke's picture

I think its a performance thing... looks cool and feels cool or whatever...

Another observation is that in Shotokan in particular, all the slow movements in all the kata are grabbing motions where you are attached to your opponent. Maybe something like the idea that slow motions build dynamic tention for strength training, may help you hold on to a struggling opponent long enough to hit them? Just kinda brainstorming a bit...

rshively
rshively's picture

From what I've read of all the posts there are certainly differences of opinion when it comes to performing kata at a prescribed speed. However, if I may interject:

It's been said that choki motobu only knew 2-3 kata his entire life. Unfortunately, in today's study of martial arts it's quite common for someone to attempt to master some 20 to 30 kata without really taking the time to try and understand what is contained within their movements.  For example, kusanku was one of the original kata that came to okinawa from china. It was viewed as an entire system/style of martial arts. A number of traditional kata are viewed much the same way. Many people don't realize that a number of kata were created after WW II. According to some, kanku-sho is a lesser version of kanku-dai or kusanku. Many instructors added kanku sho for teaching beginning students before teaching the more advanced kanku-dai. Most karate styles of today "imported" or "borrowed" their kata from other styles/systems.

George Dillman once said that a number of okinawan masters often practiced their kata in a similar fashion like that of tai chi. For obvious health reasons (improved blood flow, lymphatic circulation, reduction of muscle tension, improved neural-electrical function, increased lung capacity, etc) the practice of kata at differing speeds can improve the quality of life. The same way chi-gung exercises can improve one's health. many kata movements have the same affect when repeated over and over again. However, keep in mind that the tai chi that is practiced today is a shadow of the fighting art that dominated the ring in Peking during the late 1800's and early 1900's. The Yang family was known for their bare-knuckle brawling skills.

Do I practice my kata slowly? Absolutely! I do it with softness, as well as with dynamic tension. However, the type of tension I use is more serpentine in design; similar to standing yoga.

 I want to further develp my muscle memory-reflex action. When I trained under a fukien white crane stylist, he often said that, "speed is an illusion." In short, in a time of crisis, your muscles-your body knows what to do, and the speed will be there when you need it. This is why I also train in front of a TV.

I also use arm/hand/wrist weights when I train slowly. It's amazing the muscular workout you can get from a pair of light weight dumbbells. The differing angles, arm movements used in different kata can put any workout video to shame.

Finally, I have also learned to look at kata practice as a guideline, a flexible method of training. I enjoy slow practice, of not always staying inside the box...which is why I like watching Iain's videos and reading his posts,,,there is always something new to learn.

Ron

Harald
Harald's picture

Whatever the reasons for doing some techniques in slow motion, there are some obvious advantages in doing so:

- coordination of breath and technique (also good for health as Ron states)

- you can elaborate on technical aspects, e.g. shifting the centre, it makes you conscious of things you will not grasp if you do it fast but false for years! (that seems to me the most important point)

- close to the former point: you work on the dynamics of tension and relaxation, a natural energy flow...: healthy and good for very fast movements and hard fighting, i.e. you develop chi energy by doing it slowly! (perhaps even more important than my technical point before)

- of little improtance for me: a hint for the application, e.g. applying a lock

- of minor importance for me: aesthetics.(correct posture looks good, that´s it)

- slowing down or  pausing structures the kata, a hectic performance makes it look ugly, often you prepare your body for the next dynamic sequence.

If you ´run´ kushanku you have to interrupt, the slow movevemnts are a means for doing so. Fighting ten men is not a 100m run, you have to control your energy, you should not be exhausted after 80meters (or 8 men), that could be your death.

Sorry, If I put some redundant stuff,

Harald:

Boris B
Boris B's picture

Harald,

Do you really think that you can "structure" a fight against multiple opponents? Do you think that the degree of violent intent and abiltity to dish it out and take punishment of your many opponents is a variable that you can control?

I just have to think of the Hagler/Hearns fight or many other "sport" fights - it's only one on one. How often do you hear boxers comment in their corners or after the fight "I tried to control the pace/rythm of the fight but it didn't work out" or similiar statements? 

Please don't take this in a negative way, I know myself that while practising kata many funny ideas can enter the mind wink

Harald
Harald's picture

Borris,

if you don´t try to do so, you will lose a small advantage. Of course, "structuring" starts prior to the first attack!

Anyway,I refered to kata. In a real fight against multiple opponents your means to "structure" the fight seem irrelevant. But this is not the case. Everything has its structure, even so called chaotic pub fightings. Where do your opponents stand? What kind of furniture is available?...

Any military education is based on the assumption that you can structure a fight. And if you quote excellent boxers, you shouold know that following a tactics with discipline is one of their most important advantages. That tactics does not always work is a different matter. In the long turn it is quite good to use one´s brains even if it comes to fighting.

Please don´t take this in  a negative way. I know this since I "know" of some real fighting situations (I have heard of) and perhaps one can find relevant hints in a kata but that´s not the key point when doing kata and bunkai.

"Structure" is a very general term - one has to spell out what is meant by it when applied to a real fight. But you will know that space has a structure and fighting takes place in space (and time, which also has a structure).

If you got me wrong on some other level: Slow movements in kata should be applied fast, esp. if there is more than one aggrressor.

Best wishes for everbody who participates,

Harald

Boris B
Boris B's picture

Harald, thanks for your reply.

I pointed out that excellent fighters didn't manage to follow through with their plan (to structure the fight to their liking) - you pointed out that trying to structure a fight is a main concept for successful fighting. Fair argument, since we both agreed that plans do fail on occasion.

Your comment got me thinking: are there tactics in the katas that address fighting multiple opponents?

I'll ask this question in a seperate thread. Personally, I am skeptical, but let's see what other people think.

 

Syrus Shizendo
Syrus Shizendo's picture

What about if the slow movements are (as Iain mentioned) the underlining of important aspects of the kata but also a more internal aspect, karate isn't often described as an internal art but certainly in Tencho and Seishan I feel chi/ki flowing.

I also believe that the slower you perform something the stronger your muscle memory of that posture is, so by performing a kata slowly when you come to performing the bunkai/ ji yu of that kata your application is more efficient and more precise. Similar to why tai chi forms are performed slowly.

Syrus