Martial arts is a self-defense system that bases its physical and mental attributes to the philosophies of the eastern culture. A method to practice techniques to master skills are through a series or pattern of movements known as kata or form. As a martial arts practitioner, you must follow a framework of movements to not only train the internal, but external aspects of the art. You must focus on the aspects of power, posture, quickness, timing, endurance, flexibility, and balance with each technique known as the “7 Qualities of a Champion”. Martial arts forms have evolved to an American style format known as Sport Karate which utilizes techniques from Japanese, Chinese, and Korean martial art techniques. You will learn the framework of how to choreography the form for exhibition as well as how to train it.
American style Sport Karate forms have four section formats that are rhythmically formatted with eight by eight counts that provide the artist sixty-four movements that can be choreographed classical, modern, new age, or popular music. Harnessing music into your forms is known as musical katas and will help you showcase your artistic abilities to physical movement. With each eight count you will choreograph your own series of blocks, stances, kicks, and punches that are relevant to your belt level. Once you have created your sixty-four movements, you will be ready to stage your form. You will break down your form into four sections allowing for sixteen movement per each section. When staging your form, each section should not only present your highest degree of movement, but appropriately utilize the floor. You have the choice to use the traditional “I-Pattern”, diagonal, or the four sectional hybrid framework. Visually, it is recommended that you use the four sectional hybrid. When you choreograph with the four section hybrid, your first section typically starts with an “I-Pattern”, your second section and third section transition into the diagonal pattern, and finally your fourth section closes with an “I-Pattern”. The hybrid allows you to showcase your skills that are visually appealing to the audience.
When training the four section, you will train the form daily for sixty minutes so you can commit and stay discipline to the following training regime. You will start of by execute the entire sixty-four movement form at eight-five percent effort. You will then execute each technique move by move slowing your heart rate while focusing on detailed positions. You will then execute each section four times at one hundred percent effort. In between sections, you will continue to recall the techniques that you did not execute properly and fix them the next time your run the section.
Once you complete each section, you will combine sections. Section one and two will be executed four times, section two and three will be execute four times, and section three and four will be execute four times. Practicing these dual sections allows you to not only work through appropriate transitions, but most importantly build your endurance. You will close your workout by executing each half of the form four times and lastly executing the entire form at one hundred percent four times. The holistic approach focuses on detail of technique as well as overall conditioning of the form.
You can add to the complexity of your form training with resistant bands, ankle weights, and a weight vest. You can also mix your sections week to week by starting with an even number rather than an odd number so you do not create bad habits. Pushing your training in this manner will allow you to excel quickly through your martial arts journey. You must always keep in mind that completing this training regime will expose what element you need to focus on within the “7 Qualities of a Champion”.
Depending on what belt you are, the environment will play a role in your form. Executing the sixty minute training regime will be quite different in the cold months versus the warm months. You have to stretch between each section as your blood pressure increases to maximize flexibility. Your feet must be considered when training on a hard versus soft surface to avoid injuries. Many acrobatic techniques are not recommended on hard surfaces due to the liability or damage you may be incur if you make a mistake. Always pay attention to your climate and flooring to maintain your safety.