Thinking kata and Bassai Dai bunkai
After we tied our belts, Sensei Noia had us put on our thinking caps at the start of class today. We worked on the Heian katas in mirror image. We also worked on some bunkai from Bassai Dai which is always a good learning experience.
Even though I often talk about not thinking when doing kata, today we warmed up by doing all the Heian katas in mirror image where thinking was a requirement not an option.
Doing Heian Shodan, Heian Nidan and Heian Sandan wasn’t too hard but as soon as Heian Yondan came along, it was much harder for me and Heian Godan with the left leg crescent kick was a physical challenge. The hardest part for me is doing the moves with opposite hands and legs but it is still a great experience and something I recommend doing every now and again.
Doing drills like this are one of the things that I really enjoy about Karate because you can always learn something new. Just when you think your katas are getting good, doing it in mirror image or from end to start resets everything back to zero.
Doing the bunkai (application) of the kata moves is always a good learning experience. There are so many different ways to apply the moves from the advanced katas that I don’t think we will ever know all of them.
Sensei had us do Jion as a group making sure not to move up and down when going from move to move before splitting the brown belts and the black belts.
We then moved on to Bassai Dai, doing it twice and then working on the arm grab and kick to the knee before the first kiai. The idea is to trap the attackers hand, then pull them in and stretch them out and kick them in the knee. Using this particular application will end up giving your attacker an injured knee or worse so be careful if you work on this with a partner.
The next moves were the double rising block, with the double hammer fist to the ribs and then the short shift with a punch to the solar plexus or throat. When executing the double rising block, make sure that your hands are close enough together to break your attackers grip from your coat or shirt. When moving in for the double hammer fist, make sure that you keep your upper body upright and make sure that you target the ribs. Also, use your upper back muscles to make the strikes to the ribs strong. For the last part, use a short shift to push your attacker backward and then finish up the technique with a targeted punch to the the solar plexus or throat.
The last move we worked on today was near the end of the kata where you catch the front snap kick and throw it away. This is a relatively easy move but it works well by taking your attacker off their balance while giving you time to counter their kick.
End class on a good note
For many classes now, we have ended on a good note by doing a kata of our choice. This gives me one last chance to work on my kata with my tired body and mind to see if I can still do it. This one last kata often gives me a moment in time where I cannot see or hear anything else around me. It is as if I am doing my kata alone until I bow after I finish it. It doesn’t happen all the time but when it does, it is a good place to be.
After that, we lined up, bowed out and have another great class behind us.