Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Things you learn practicing one kata

The first thing you learn is that you have discipline. It's kind of one of those Catch-22 things that you really need discipline to learn discipline, because if you don't have discipline you'll never practice enough to have it. You learn that you have discipline because it's really, really, really, really boring. At the beginning.

The first year of practicing only one kata you're just going through the motions. You might as well be dancing. But I found that it's very important to practice mushotoku. This is practice without the desire for gain or profit. It's a Zen concept and people jump down my throat sometimes about this, because they believe that Buddhism has no part in karate. I agree, but these same people usually have the suffix Do attached to karate. Read Gichin Funakoshi, he makes a distinction between karate and karate-do.

The concept kept me going because with one kata it's all you have. There's no belt testing, no classes, no new kata to learn, no new movements to master. It's just that one kata that you've chosen to master and it happens when it happens, you just have to keep going.

You obviously learn patience. There's really no need to rush because you're not going to understand things in an afternoon, or a month, or a year. I personally didn't start getting a handle on what I was actually doing until after year two. You get an idea, but it's nothing you can put your hands on. It's just a feeling.

You can tell when others understand their kata. They're not just moving their arms and legs. They're not miming movements. They are actually doing something in their mind. They completely understand everything they are doing. Their body moves in concert. Not everything is fast, because not every technique needs speed sometimes it just needs leverage.

You learn that the kata is part of yourself. It's hard to explain, but you come to learn it very intimately. You own it, you don't rent it. It doesn't stop because you stopped practicing at the dojo. The dojo is not going to make you a karateka. You are going to make you a karateka. I think this is appropriate, because if you practice for self defense you're the one that's going to save yourself. Not your sensei, or the style, or even your technique because when you get right to the bare bones of it, it's just you and only you. The kata is just a reference point.

You learn that you can get good fairly fast. At least compared to how most karate dojo train. It's just arithmetic. A thousand hours of one kata is a thousand hours of one kata. A thousand hours of 10 kata is 100 hours per one kata. A thousand hours of practice is a little less than three years of study if you study for one hour a day. So if you practice 10 kata for three years you'll have one hundred hours of practice for each kata spread out over that time. You hit the one hundred hour mark at three months and ten days if you only practice one kata. Like I said, arithmetic.

You learn a lot when you only practice one kata, and the best part is you don't need to pay anyone to do it. You can do it in your backyard.