My main focus this week has been kata. I have three kata to perform in my grading- Bassai Dai, Seienshin and Annanku, together with some bunkai. Kata has never been my strong point, at least not from an aesthetic point of view! However I do feel I've made some significant strides forward in the last few weeks. This week I've been following Felicia's advice about practising kata as a flow drill and I think it is paying off. Instead of just doing the kata with full power and with correct timing you practice it softly and flowingly at a faster speed than normal. You have to pay attention to correct stances, footwork, hand positions etc, so the kata is not performed sloppily but just without the power and changes in timing.
Doing the kata in this way makes it feel a bit more meditational - eventually you stop thinking about the moves and they just flow out of you. It is also less exhausting to do the kata softly and so it is possible to repeat the kata several times in succession. Today I did all three kata 6 times each straight after each other. That would have been very difficult to do if I had done the katas with full power! So doing it this way has given me more practice. However, it is still important to do the kata with power and timing as well so that I don't forget so I've made sure that the last repetition is done in this way.
I've also been working on basic kihon techniques - punching and kicking combinations. The punching combinations I'm pretty confident about now but some of my kicks still leave a lot to be desired! Why are back kick and side kick so difficult? I still have trouble with forming the correct foot shape and getting sufficient height (and we're only talking chudan height here). Yeah I know - it's just practice!
I've also been finalising my goshin waza (self-defence techniques) with my husband who will be my grading partner. I've decided on demonstrating three defences to attacks from behind (double wrist grab, over-arm bear hug and arm bar to throat), three defences to lapel grabs and three defences to kicks to the head on the ground. My husband doesn't let me get away with anything and grabs me really tight. He makes me really work hard to get the techniques to work, so I'm hopeful of putting on a good performance of these in the grading.
I feel a lot less stressed about the grading now and I'm starting to feel on top of things....with only 7 weeks to go that's a good sign!