Articles

A matter of time.

Yesterday, or Today.

The well known series of books created by, Master Masatoshi Nakayama, have long been considered one of the go to sources of information for many Shotokan practitioners. The books in this series that deal with kata, outline them both descriptively, and pictorially. This series includes all, but two of the twenty-six Shotokan katas practiced today in most dojos. 

At the end of each kata described in these books is a page entitled, Important Points. It is here that Master Nakayama offers his thoughts on the most critical points of each kata, along with some accompanying photographs. He also specifies the time in which a particular kata should be performed, it the case of Heian Shodan it was about 40 seconds. I consider this timing to be a historical approach.

Recently I watched videos of a number of very well known, and high ranking senseis perform the Heian Shodan. In each case the time it took for them to complete this particular kata ranged from 23 seconds to 32 seconds. Given their considerable talent, and their expertise, I consider this timing to be a modern approach.

This then begs a question.

When you do Heian Shodan which timing most closely fits your individual performance? The modern approach, or the historical approach? 

Your answer I suggest to you is a product of the passage of time. Since the publication of the Heian - Tekki series of books in 1979 more than forty years have passed. In that time attitude towards the performance of Heian Shodan, as well as all of the other Shotokan katas have changed considerably. Perhaps it has something to do with the second generation of JKA senseis who were sent throughout the world to spread the art of Shotokan Karate. They were young, talented, physically fit, and very skilled. As such their approach to kata became our approach. One where the emphasis was placed on power, speed, as well as quality, and with no time wasted.

What do you think?

The last book in the series to reference timing was book number eight, Gankaku & Jion, published in 1981. Books numbered nine, ten, and eleven omitted timing, was that simply an oversight? Or by 1985 when book ten was published had the time it took to perform a kata become less important?

We may never know the answer to that question, but one thing is certain. The time we take to do kata will remain unique to each of us, and is just one more way we each reinforce our individual dedication to the art of Shotokan karate.

Remember, "If your are truly in the moment, time will not matter."