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Rushing the Count

I recently watched a video of Kobayashi-Ryu students and instructors giving a demonstration in Okinawa. I believe it was for an anniversary of the death of Choshin Chibana, the ryu founder.

I found one thing very interesting about the demonstration. Almost all the participants -- students and instructors alike-- rushed the count. It seemed that they were trying to do their various kata as quickly as possible.

This problem is not limited to any style. Many people rush the count, whether because of nervousness, adrenaline, or simply to try to look good. You have probably seen this too. I have seen it at almost every demonstration I have attended.

There is a natural rhythm to kata. The pace between movements is usually a walking pace. It should not be rushed. Once you get from point A to point B, then you execute the technique quickly. You do not rush from point A to B. Doing so almost always disrupts the technique.

If you watch the masters of old, they usually take their time performing kata. Some people mistakenly describe this as "old man" kata. Generally, these masters are not moving at a walking pace between movements because of their age. They are doing so because of their experience and skill.

This also has to do with weight shifting. Shifting your body weight takes time. It can not be done instantly, and trying to do so will result in a loss of balance. Striking, blocking, and kicking are quick motions. Once the weight is shifted -- once you move from point A to point B -- you can then execute the technique.

Of course, there is some overlap in weight shifting and technique throwing or firing. But the main thing to remember is that the pace between movements is a walking pace. Don't rush.

If you are leading the class, please keep this in mind. You must count at a pace that allows the students to properly position themselves, shift their weight, and completely execute each technique. Rushing the count will lead to unnecessary mistakes and bad habits. I often count too fast and must always remind myself to slow down.

Someone once told me that speaking fast will make people think that you are smart. Of course, this is a bit shallow -- doesn't it depend on what you say? In the same way, some peope think that moving fast makes you look good at Karate. But in the same way, doesn't it depend on how you execute each technique? A skilled person can easily tell that you are just rushing to perform poor techniques. Take your time and execute each technique properly.

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin