Tonight, I had the great fortune of pairing up with a ni-dan (second degree blackbelt) for kata.
Normally, you pair up with someone about your same height and skill level, and run through the kata. A sensei will wander through, and correct your form where necessary. Only problem, though, is that you’ll frequently practice the same wrong things, over and over, before it’s caught and corrected. In addition, you only get to practice at a level equal to your opponent, and fellow beginners don’t push each other very hard.
But since my son and I get to Kendo so early to help with the pre-practice prep, today we had tons of spare time before practice. I was talking with one of the yudansha about kata, and he decided to just run me through a few. Before practice even started, we had done forms 1 through 6!
After class started, and we did warm-ups, he grabbed me again, and we went through 1 through 6 again, and then number 7! I was surprised, because normally, you aren’t taught a new form until the previous ones are relatively mastered. But he just kept encouraging and coaching, and fixing my form.
What a blast! I love learning new stuff. Now I just have to remember it next week!
Kata ran 15 minutes over, 45 minutes in all, making practice a bit short. Despite that, they ran us extra intense, and I was exhausted well before the night was through.