So, the black belt shiai has been postponed, and hopefully not too long. Sensei Bottomms feels it will most likely be in early September. When I heard that at the end of class last night I was immediately frustrated, and then started to think that the extra time to practice and train was not such a bad idea. Part of me just wants this to be over so that I can go back to normal, that is not thinking so much about all of what I have learned. Mind you, even when I'm not training for shiai I'm thinking about karate, but it's just more intense right now since our black belt tests are so physically and mentally demanding. One of my dojo mates is going on August 22, so I'll go and support him. He's off to college on the 27th and needed to have it before then and it will also be in the "mother" dojo in Rutland, VT. See, Master Morallo is the one who tests us, not Sensei Bottomms, which can make for a few shifts in shiai times. It can definitely get frustrating, but it seems as though Master Morallo's father is ill and needs his son. So, we wait and train harder, like we did today. My legs were practically shaking by the end of class. We went over the first three kata - Empi (elbow kata), Taikyoko Shodan (First Cause #1) and Taikyoko Nidan (First Cause #2) - all of which require low front stances and cresent stepping, and with Empi horse stance, too. Plus we did these slow since there were two people new to these kata, which meant holding low stances. Ugh. Then I would stay up and perform the same kata at my speed after we all did them together. Then on to push-ups, etc. Great class. Last night I did some slow-flow with Sensei and I have to say that it's becoming much more comfortable. He's all about relaxing in your moves and moving from hara and not about being hard and fast. Quickness comes from within and if you don't move from hara the technique is wasted.
There are so many nuances to kata that you are always perfecting. First you learn the moves in the kata, then you become comfortable with those moves, then you practice over and over. After the kata becomes known completely by your body you go into the small things, like a solid chamber hand, low stances, low kicks, etc. Last night in class we worked Sanchin kata, which is pretty difficult in regards to stance. First you must be in the sanchin stance and root down into the ground. Then you must spiral your energy upwards, contract you lats, spiral your arms. It's a hard way to stand. Then you must breathe easy and focus each strike as though it were a full strike. So much to learn! Anyway, I love kata. You are fighting yourself and you lose when you lose your focus.