Over the last little while my TSYR group has steadily improved our knowledge of the shoden kata. We all pretty much know the basic form of each kata. Now we need to look a little deeper and start to improve on this foundation.
This got me thinking about maintaining the drive and motivation to train. In TSYR the curriculum is very large so there is always the excitement of learning a new kata. However, how do we keep the ones we have already learned fresh?
Here are some things our group has been trying:
1) deviate from the form slightly. If the kata is set using a single hand grab, how would we complete the technique from a punch? This challenges the practitioner to problem solve but stay true to the principles of that kata. We do this slowly and deliberately.
2) semi- freestyle practice. Allow the attacker to throw a punch, single-hand grab or double hand grab. The recipient must then perform one of the set kata. This can happen slow or fast. It checks how many of the kata have become internalised. If a punch is thrown or your hands are seized and you freeze...what good is your technique?
3) faster! Perform the set kata with more speed and more smoothly. Move past, the paint-by-numbers mentally that we all must start with. Trying to go faster often exposes holes in one's technique.
All of the above are only useful if the practitioners have a reasonable grasp on the basic kata. Complete novices would be confused and it would slow their progress, not improve it.
Of course, the best thing you can do to keep motivated in your training is to always self-critique. Have I got my balance? Have I taken my partner's balance? Am I keeping good body alignment/structure throughout the technique? Am I safe to move into that position? and so on and so forth.