My wife loves hiking...LOVES it! She has made hiking and camping part of what our family does albeit with less regularity than she would like. I know that I've spent more time in the woods than I would if I didn't have her. I'm thankful for many reasons: the time together as a family, the escape from technology and "work", the sights and sounds, and the lessons learned while hiking trails.
I've taken some of these lessons and used them in my own training, especially with the training of kata. The older I get and the longer I train, the more I appreciate kata and hope that, in some small way, these lessons can help inspire you to change the way you train as well.
So, the first "lesson from the train" is that preparation is key. Anyone who's been hiking knows how much preparation goes into the trip. For starters, you've got to consider:
- the location
- the distance covered
- estimated duration of the hike
- elevation changes
- weather forecast
- how much water to bring
This is just the beginning. The longer the hike, the more preparation is required. The best trails we've covered have also been the most thoroughly planned out. Preparation alleviates worry and allows you to enjoy the moment.
The more I make sure I'm prepared for my kata training, the more I enjoy those moments. The best part of kata prep is that you don't have to pack anything! Some of the things that I consider before training kata are:
1. The stance(s). What stances are used in this kata? How do they flow and transition? I take a moment to practice these stances and the transition from one to the other.
2. The kihon. What are the basic techniques of the kata? I'll practice the kihon for the kata as a way to warm up.
3. The bunkai. What is the meaning behind the movement? Why am I turning with a block instead of a strike? What's the point of that technique?!?! Thinking of the kata as more than a series of steps and movements in a series is crucial to really learning the kata!
4. The name. What is the name of the kata? Seriously...the name of the kata (in the vast majority of cases) should inform your spirit as you practice it!
It sounds basic, almost commonsensical, but preparing mentally and physically for kata training is a critical step in truly experiencing the kata. Can you just jump in cold and work through the steps of the Pinan kata? Sure. However, just like jumping on the hiking trail without preparation, you wont enjoy the trip nearly as much.
Train hard, smart, and often!
Lesson #2 coming on Monday...