Coming up is the WKC Nationals in Dearborn, Michigan. It’s a pretty exciting deal that draws some great competitors from all over the United States. It also happens to be the National Qualifiers for the 8th WKC World Championships in Dublin, Ireland. Meaning, if I finish in the top 4 in my division, I’m qualified to go to worlds in the Fall!
All of the plotting aside, there is a whole lot of work that goes into prepping for any tournament and this one has been no real exception. In the past few years I’ve slowly started competing more, and been traveling to a wider range of places. Which is wonderful and exciting and expensive. The first two are great, the last one, not so much.
But, I have a little bit of help. Several years ago, at this same tournament I’ll be attending this weekend, I was signed to a team. Until that point, I had been competing on my own with no real affiliation to a school, instructor, or team. I was basically a lone agent that showed up at tournaments, did my thing, and then went home.
It was during the 3rd WKC Nationals I ran into a Mr. Conell Loveless, who asked if I would be interested in joining his team.
Since then, I’ve been part of Team Revolution and have represented them all over the country, and even world.
What I was brought on for, and what I compete in, is kata. Kata are a series of choreographed movements performed in a sequence. The idea is to be fighting an imaginary opponent, and killing them in horrifying and ridiculous ways. Often very loudly.
The term kata tends to be used pretty freely. In reality, kata, being a Japaense term, truly refers to Japanese forms from various styles of karate, kobudo, and other arts from that geographical location. Katas can also be referred to as forms, patterns, combinations, and sequences, depending on who’s speaking.
However you refer to it, kata is scored in a variety of ways, but mostly on cleanliness of technique, power, speed and pacing, and intent. This last one is that hardest, it’s not enough to go through the form and complete it in a technically perfect way, it has to tell a story, and that story has to be believable.
In the last 6 months, this has been the part that I’ve been working the hardest on.
I compete in several different divisions. I’m a traditionalist, which means I only compete in divisions that are based on historic martial arts. I’m all about hitting people really hard. The other broad category would be extreme. Where the competitor adds in a lot of flips and really neat tricks to their performance. This is super cool, and it looks amazing. “Trickers” as they’re currently called have a ton of my respect as I can’t do a flip without screaming like a small child and landing on my head.
For this weekend I am competing in 4 divisions: Traditional Hardstyle, Korean, Traditional Hardstyle Non-Bladed Weapons, and Classical Kata.
For the training aspect, I spend a fair amount of time in a gym, lifting heavy things and putting them back down and running in place to make myself tired. All of this is done to keep a general level of fitness and endurance, as well as strength and explosiveness that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to have. I also train most every night in katas. My day job is running a martial arts business, and after classes are done (around 9ish) I spend anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour going through katas and absolutely ripping them apart. Critiquing foot placement, where I’m looking, where the energy level drops, or rises too much, speed, pacing, how deep are the stances, and on and on. The work never stops.
It’s awesome and it sucks all at the same time.
I’ve been doing this type of training and critiquing for almost the past year and a half straight. I was at the Infinity National Championships 3 weeks ago. It was a good tournament for me, but I noticed a twinge in my foot and I took a week off of heavy training afterwards. But since then I’ve been working it and pushing. So, my katas are feeling pretty good. But, they can always be better. And, like writing, the more I work at it, the more things I find to change and improve upon.
I have 2 days until Nationals. Time to work on some of those final edits.