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Sunday, May 29, 2011

The marksmanship principles of kata

We all know that the principles of the dojo (the dojo kun) should also be practiced outside the dojo, but are external principles able to be applied inside the dojo?

I am regularly responsible for the conduction of ranges, for soldiers who are attempting to pass an annual weapons test. If they have paid attention to their weapons lessons and apply the marksmanship principles it is like doing a yellow belt grading every year. If you can't maintain this minimum standard, you can not remain.

Unfortunately many do not find it easy and fail to meet this minimum standard,why?

My 1st question to those that do not pass is "Did you apply the marksmanship principles?"; the answer is always "Yes".

My 2nd question is "What are the principles?", this is usually followed by a period of silence or waffle.

If you do not know the core principles behind what you are trying to perfect how on earth can you apply them and ultimately achieve the level of success that you desire?

Surprising the 4 marksmanship principles translate very well into kata.

1. The position and hold must be firm enough to support the weapon
1. You must have a solid stance from which to perform techniques.

2. The weapon must point naturally at the target without any undue physical effort.
2. The technique must naturally follow the correct path.

3. Sight alignment (aiming) must be correct
3. Joint alignment (Knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, hand etc) must be correct.

4. The shot must be released and followed through without undue disturbance of the position.
4. Your technique must be executed without undue disturbance of your stance.

The other Wednesday I still had this concept of keeping core principles in mind when I asked a group of Brown and Black belts what the core principles of kata were. I was met with a similar puzzled expression to the soldier on the range. They did manage to list quite a few important points, but not "principles" (general rules). I asked them to go and see what they could find out, pointing them towards Nakayama Sensei's Best Karate series.

Nakayama Sensei's Core principles:
1. The correct number and order of moves must be performed.
2. The kata must begin and end at the same spot.
3. The meaning of each movement must be clearly understood and fully expressed.
4. The karateka must be aware of the target and know precisely when to execute the technique.
5. The rhythm and timing must be appropriate to the kata.
6. Breath properly and kiai in the correct places.

During your kata practice you may wish to select one or two principles to focus on, but those who are preparing for Brown and Black belt gradings need to consider all these key principles when you present yourself for examination.

Knowing what the core principles of kata are has got to help, Osu!

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