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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Kenpo Karate: Kata 2: Iron Fan : What this has to do with math?

Yesterday I managed to go through the entire Kata 2 form three times independently. Slowly, with support, I have learned each part of this kata. This being the third kata I have learned, I found myself FINALLY understanding not only the patterns within them, but also some hidden reasons for learning them, such as increased balance, endurance and mental concentration.

This a.m. class we adults did "line attacks". We line up and "attack" one person in a systematic way following one of the forms (either 49 cross swords or one of the katas). I was nudged by the group to test out my nascent knowledge of kata 2. With the instructor's and group's support, I managed to defend myself against the attacks.

The point is that I am learning this kata about half way through my journey towards black belt and only now am I starting to understand the nature of the patterns we study. I have dedicated several years to this sport/art and only now have I figured out that I really DO need to practice incessantly on my own.

With Kata 2 I have embarked on a different approach in my learning style. With the instructor's support, the kata has been broken down to its components of attack, such as grabs, punches, knifes and clubs. I can visualize what is coming towards me at each stage and have started to see the patterns I need to rebuff the attack. At the same time, I have been watching a video of this over and over so that I have a mental image (sort of like a goal) to focus on. Finally, I have decided that I am better off not worrying about the details of the kata (hand position, exact foot position etc) in favor of a general sense of positioning and defense.

This approach seems to be working for me.

As a math teacher, I have been considering ways I can take this approach and help students adopt it as their own. I believe I am finding a healthy balance between the specific details and the more generalized view of purpose in my karate practice. Now I look forward to translating this into classroom practices of effective learning.

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