11 posts / 0 new
Last post
OnlySeisan's picture
What are your interesting ways to practice kata?

I'm not sure if it's interesting, but I'll practice kata with a book on my head every one and awhile. I started doing it to keep myself from raising up when I moved through the kata to keep my energy (bodyweight) moving in the direction I want it to go. The book falls off easier with an up and down motion.

What are some fun things you guys like to do?

ShotoRick's picture

A couple things we like to do occasionally:

1. Add an kick after every move. For example we may choose mae geri, so then in heian shodan for example, we would start turn left gedan barai then right leg mae geri (in-place) then step through with the oi tsuki followed by mae geri left leg (in-place), big turn gedan bari, mae geri, and so on and so forth. 

2. Another interesting one is to keep one foot planted so you are essentially doing the whole kata in one place. Again using heian shodan as an example. If we keep our right foot planted and just pivot around it. Start with your standard step out left gedan barai, then (keeping the right foot where it is) step backwards with our oi-tsuki. The next big turn you actually have to turn in the opposite direction that you normally would cutting throught the center. Next few moves are just like normal and then when you are suppose to step forward for your first age uke you would step backward instead (again keeping the right foot planted). And so on and so forth, you get the idea. It doesn't work with all kata but there are a few that you can do it (at least in shotokan anyway).

Neither of these really add anything to the "practicality" of the kata but the first one will get the legs burning and the second one will get the gears in your head turning. More so for fun than anything else.

Wastelander's picture

Well, most of our kata include upward and downward movement, so the book on the head thing would be awful tough for me :P. I like to change the footwork of Naihanchi in a variety of ways--here are two examples:



Other than that, running kata hontai (mirrored) can be an interesting challenge. I also periodically run kata "in triplicate," which is where you repeat every movement 3 times before moving on to the next. My Sensei sometimes has us run kata and drop to do a push-up ever 3-5 movements. There is also running kata while holding  1.5" diameter steel ball bearings in the hands, or gripping 2.5lb weight plates. Kata with the eyes closed. Kata with all the repeating movements removed. Kata with a kick on every neko-ashi-dachi. Kata with all open hands. Lots of options!

Spaniard's picture

How timely!  I was just suggesting somethings to my sister today for her kids in TKD:

IDo the forms eyes closed (taking turns for safety)


starting from the last move

mirror (starting on the opposite side)

using a stick with the strong hand

open hand if normally a fist

add a kick with each step



Marc's picture

Tuck one hand in the belt behind your back. - It's a pretty weird feeling when you realize how much you depend on both arms for generating the dynamics of a technique. Try with each and with both hands.

Use Taikyoku Shodan and replace OiZ or GB with other techniques, e.g. from your kihon grading syllabus, or/and add ZK-GyZ after every technique. - This is a training alternative if line work gets boring.

Rush through your kata as fast as you can. I mean really fast. Techniques may not be recognisable anymore, but that's by design. Just make sure you do all the moves, turn correctly, use the correct number of steps (stances are irrelevant here). - With this exercise you can check whether you (or your students) have really internalised the kata as a sequence. About 13 seconds would be a nice duration for Heian Yondan, for example, 32 seconds for Kanku-Dai would be pretty quick.

Try and jump into every kata position in the same spot, including turns of course.

As a group exercise: Let everybody do two kata moves in turn. First person does moves #1 und #2. Second person does #2 and #3, third does #3 and #4, first person again continues with #4 und #5 and so on. Does not have to be two moves, could also be three or four, or divide the kata at each turn. - Actually I have never tried this, but it feels like it might be fun.

Kiai with every single technique, obviously.

Have a partner prompt you to solve arithmetic problems like adding or substracting numbers while you perform your kata. - See if you can cope with the cognitive load.

Mirror, eyes closed, and repeating each technique have already been mentioned.

Just some fun ideas that came to mind before bedtime. - Go play with it! :)

Take care


Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

This podcast from 4 year ago has loads of ideas that I’ve found useful:

“We then spend the bulk of the podcast looking at the many different ways in which you can make use of kata regardless of style, available space or environment. We also cover some of the ways in which you can add variety to solo kata training in order to make training challenging and enjoyable.”


All the best,


OnlySeisan's picture

Lots of good stuff to consider. Thanks all!

Dod's picture

I like holding hand grips in both hands and squeezing for both hikite and closed-fist strikes to remind yourself that you are either grabbing or need a tight fist for striking.

Tau's picture

I suspect we've all tried various kata with weapons.

In my TKD days we often did synchonised patterns, starting back to back.

This afternoon I attempted Crane-On-A-Rock with Chicken-On-My-Shoulder. Those that know me will know that I'm not joking.

Ian H
Ian H's picture

Do the kata with only the balls of your feet & toes touching ... not the heels.  Your heels never touch the ground at all throughout.

Not only is this a phenomenal workout for your calves, you get great feedback about body positioning and balance.  Do a kata three times in a row this way, and then go back to "normal" and notice how wonderfully grounded and stable you feel!

AllyWhytock's picture

The previous ideas are good stuff. Something for me to try. I supplement my solo Kata training by training against an attached bag or unattached bag.  At times you may not have a training partner and the cost of human shaped dummies can sting. So I make do with what I have available. Each single Kata technique can be repeated against the bag (where practical). Add single techniques into a sequence. Some techniques/sequences work on the bag and some don't unless there is major alteration of intended primary application. If possible you'll get long sequences, if not the whole kata, to flow. You may have to be imaginative and seek alternative options in particular those movements that really involve grappling & locking. Attaching other pads to the bag using rope or resitance bands can simulate limbs. Resistance bands/ropes on the waist and limb extremities can challenge and cause awkwardness which becomes messy - just like reality.  I also use HIT (High Intensity Training) for these drills and it really does sap the body (well me anyway). When I return to the solo kata I find sharpness and power generation more accessible. Kindest Regards,