Since my last update, we have continued to work on close parrying and control. It has been an interesting period and has proved to be quite a challenge as I try to improve my ability when it comes to sticky hands and following my opponent. However, last Wednesday saw a change from this and we had a kata based practice, which turned into perhaps the most tiring practice of the year.
We started with Heian Nidan, just the first few moves, with people providing resistance to each move. This forced us to concentrate on the full body motion of the kata and not just go through the motions. We then progressed onto Bassai Dai and divided into pairs to identify some practical applications of the kata's moves.
From there we then worked through katas from Taikyoko Shodan up to Hangetsu Den, with the advice being to perform the kata as if the resistance was still being applied and that the practical application being performed. The aim here was to perform the kata with intent, as if it were part of an actual fight.
Hugh has told me before that my kata sometimes is "empty" meaning that it does not look like there is intent behind my moves. It's difficult to imagine quite what this looks like (it feels like I am doing it correctly) so I'm going to get some of my kata videoed to understand what I need to work on. However by the end of the night it did feel like we were all starting to perform the kata to the level that Hugh was looking for.
Finally we went to the ground, again with advice to focus on movement. I trained with Hugh and John. I deliberately sought out John because he's a lot stronger than me and very skilled at control on the ground, with me wanting to avoid being pinned or choked and get safe. I was not always (i.e. rarely) successful at this so an area to work on, partly to escape such situations but also to avoid them in the first place.
Interestingly defending against Hugh I was making good progress, until I tried and offensive move and was quickly pinned down. Hugh advised that when I was defending my movement was good but when trying to attack, my movement stopped. This I can understand, as Similar to the "sticky hands with kicks" practices of late, my challenge is going to be putting the two skills together and the same time.
Between getting pinned on the ground and the focus on kata, this was a physically and mentally tiring session but one that had a lot of interesting learning points for me, and the club at large. I slept soundly that night!
Scott has been training in Shoto Budo since 2007 and is a 1st Dan Black Belt. He is working towards his 2nd Dan grading.