Thursday, August 21, 2008

Creating a Kata: Part I

At the end of each year the Australian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo and Chinese Boxing Federation of Instructors holds a Presentation Day which traditionally includes a kata competition.

A kata -- sometimes referred to as a form or set -- consists of one or more participants performing a pre-arranged of movements drawn from a martial art. Kata is:
  • An instructional method
  • A training and practice method
  • A repository and source of techniques
  • A performing art
and more besides. On Presentation Day katas are performed and judged, so they should be comprehensible and entertaining for the audience. But that does not mean that they are purely about entertainment value. They should at the same time showcase technique, spirit and cooperation.

This is the first year that I will be entering a student kata from my club at Monash Caulfield, and I am looking forward to the process of getting it ready.

My first choice is whether to prepare a traditional kata, or choreograph an original one. As the title of this article suggests, I will be opting for the latter option. While traditional kata are wonderful, their level of difficulty makes them better suited to a more experienced group. I look forward to training my students in traditional kata in the future.

My second choice is how to go about creating this new kata and preparing my students. My approach will be to first introduce a particular theme into training in the coming weeks, and then work with the students to create our own kata around this theme. I expect that:
  • My beginning students will focus primarily on learning the techniques,
  • The more experienced ones will gain from the exploration of connections and have some scope to contribute creatively
  • This will allow me to
    • take a themed slice through our curriculum
    • set the scene for piecing together the actual kata.
Working title for the kata? The Kata of Come-Alongs (arresting techniques)