I'm entering my third kata competition this Sunday (SKU National Kata Championships). I'm feeling more nervous this time than before because at 4th kyu I'm entered in a higher category. Though I suppose looking at it another way I ought to be better than a year ago and I think 4th kyu is the highest grade in the category so I'll have the advantage. But am I better than a year ago? I certainly know more katas but I'm not sure I am any sharper or technically precise than I was. I suppose the difference to being competent at kata and being good at it lies in the attention to detail. Are the hand and feet positions correct? Are the strikes at the right height? Are the kicks pulled back properly? Do you turn to look before changing direction? Is the breathing correct? So much to think about and thats on top of remembering all the steps in the first place! However there's nothing like standing in the middle of the competition arena to focus the mind - it feels very different to performing a kata back in the dojo. With the adrenaline pumping around your body at high speed and knowing you are being watched from every angle by the judges you have about 45 seconds to prove yourself. Somehow all this enables you to rid your mind of all other thoughts and think only in the moment so that each step just seems to happen. Before you know it you are doing your final bow and walking backwards out of the arena and it's all over. Unless you get through to the next round - then you do it all again but with another kata!
When I did my first competition the things that struck me most were the loudness of people's kiais - they really belt it out long and hard! The kiais we do back in class are pathetic little wimpers or grunts in comparison. The other thing was the way people announced their kata. It seems you are expected to shout it out rather abruptly with an inflection on the end that makes it sound as if you are rather rudely asking a question - SANCHIN? Well if you don't know what its called mate!
My little repetoire of katas that I've been practicing for this Sunday are Pinan Godan, Jurokono and Tensho. Hopefully I'll only need two of them since so few women enter these competitions it never seems to go more than 2 rounds! Where are all the women? Anyway I'll let you know how it goes.