Everyone needs to practice, and a karate student practice changes with their age, rank and experience. It also depends on what is being practiced and for what reason. We practice to increase our knowledge of the kata, to prepare for a test or a tournament, or because we realize that kata keeps us physically and mentally fit. Students should use a method that repeats the kata three, five or even ten times.
The “3 Rep” Method
Advanced students (like our Black Belts), can use the “3 rep” method because they have many kata they need to maintain. The first rep is done slowly so that the student can check each hand/foot movement and make adjustments as necessary. They may stop to be sure their feet are in the right position and they are in the right stance before they go to the next movement. After they make their corrections, they do a second repetition. This one is done slightly faster, still paying attention to detail, but not stopping for corrections. After the kata, they should think about what they did throughout the kata. They might want to practice a portion of the kata they had a problem with. The third and final repetition is done at full speed with no stopping to check their form. I call this “tournament speed.”
The “5 Rep” Method
The five repetition method can be used by intermediate and advanced students who either have more time to practice or less kata to practice. The first two repetitions are done slowly while paying strict attention to detail. Repetitions three and four are done a little faster. They should check that they are using the proper hand and foot positions. The fifth repetition is done at tournament speed.
The “10 Rep” Method
The ten repetition method is the most time consuming and most effective method of practicing. All beginner students should use this method as well as any other student who is preparing for a tournament or belt promotion. The first 3 repetitions are done slowly with attention to detail. Repetitions 4-6 are done slightly faster while still paying strict attention to detail. Numbers 7 & 8 are done a little faster with less attention to detail. Finally, repetitions 9 & 10 are done at tournament speed.
How do students find time to practice?
If they are watching television, every commercial break can be used to practice their kata. Since each kata takes about a minute, every break should allow them to do their kata two or three times. A sixty minute TV show has an average of 18 minutes of commercials. There are other times, too. If anyone says they are bored or “have nothing to do,” that’s a great time to practice a kata or work on their blocks or stances.
Regardless of the practice method used, every student must always remember “You must work your karate if you want your karate to work for you”!