Wednesday, 4 March 2009


I joined in with the junior class on Monday as I had another commitment later in the evening. It was great to see people from that class again and see the progress they had made since I moved up to the senior class just after Christmas. It was a good session, half devoted to kumite training and half to kata training. The kumite training was enjoyable covering some fairly basic strikes, blocks and sweeps. I was feeling quite good about things when we stopped for a quick drink. Then we switched to kata training and something just went wrong...

I don't know what it was but I just couldn't keep my brain in gear to concentrate on the katas. I had had a busy day at work and then came home mid afternoon and prepared a report I needed for my meeting after karate, then I had to do an assignment for my blogging course, cook dinner for my son and get to the karate class for 6pm. I found it very difficult to clear all the day's clutter from my head and just focus on the kata. Sensei asked me to take some of the juniors through all the pinan katas and usually I can remember them reasonably well. But not Monday night! It took about three attempts to remember pinan nidan, pinans shodan, yondan and godan seemed to merge into one and as for sandan - well words fail me! And it all felt much worse because the juniors were expecting me to guide them.

To make a bad situation worse (from my point of view), sensei decided to do a mock kata competition where he and two seniors (who were arriving by now) acted as 'judges'. In turn we each had to bow, walk into the 'area', announce and perform our kata in front of everyone and then wait to receive a mark. Though I normally like doing this kind of thing as it is good practice for real competitions, this particular night I wasn't looking forward to it. I hadn't had the opportunity to practice the two katas that I am currently learning, Jurokono and Annanku, and with the pinan katas still buzzing around my head I couldn't focus on the one I was about to perform (Jurokono). So in front of both the junior class and the now assembled seniors I completely cocked up my kata. I forgot the beginning and had to start again, then after the end of one combination I couldn't remember for the life of me what came next so I gave a rather long pause until it suddenly popped into my head, then I ended up rushing the end of the kata.

I ended the class feeling quite despondent. This was nothing to do with how the class was run, indeed it was an excellent class, the kind of class that I would normally really enjoy. The problem was entirely with me. The thing is now - should I just put it down to one of those things ( I'm sure we all have a bad class from time to time) or is there something I can learn from this? Surely I should be able to clear my mind and concentrate better than this but I'm not sure how to do this. If anyone has any tips or ideas on how to do this I would be very grateful.

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John Vesia said...

A real simple tip for clearing the mind is to take a nice slow deep breath. This is something I would do just before I bow to perform kata, either for testing or competition. It works, try it.

SueC said...

Thanks John, I will try this, I have a couple of kata competitions coming up this month so I really need to sort myself out.

Littlefair said...

I also suffer from performance anxiety in katas for competition (or in show environments). John makes a good point of breathing deeply, releasing tension and being relaxed for the 'performance'. I think there is some debate as to whether running through the kata informally beforehand helps or not. Some people swear by emptying their mind altogether and simply meditating (or just not chewing over it so much).

I find a good way of de-cluttering my mind after a heavy day before going into the dojo is making a list of stuff that's on my mind. Not just a to do list but other niggles too. Jot them down then sling it in the bottom of your bag. Sometimes when work is playing on my mind and I can't sleep at night I imagine myself putting these 'issues' into a big cardboard box, taping it shut then walking away from it.

SueC said...

Thanks for that tip. I'm not really a list maker but I think some of these mental imagery strategies can work quite well - I may give the 'putting issues into a mental cardboard box' a try. I like the sound of that one.

Sally Boone said...

Hi SueC...I tried to add animated clipart and mine did not work. WOndering why??? Blog looks good. Like the slideshow also!


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