Championship Winning Kata/Forms Techniques
By Jack Makinson aka jakmak52

Your Opponent/Competition: When I prepare for the execution of my kata, I am my only competition, I am competing against myself, for me to concern myself with the competitors is insignificant and distracting, if by chance the competitor performs my kata, I always use a backup.
Attitude: When performing kata, as in kumite or self-defense, mental attitude and correct state of mind and preparation are very important. Kata should NOT be considered as merely a little game or an aerobic sequence - it should be performed "seriously" and with real "fighting intent" and attitude. Be strong, confident and assertive!
Appearance: You better be clean as a whistle, with a clean Gi/Dobok, I starch mine because they add snap to my strikes and kicks, or wear a 12 to 14 ounce competition Gi. My belt is tied properly and hangs evenly, I even use a longer belt for tournaments size 6 to a 7 for me, because it hangs lower so that when I go into a horse stance the belt ends almost touch the floor giving the illusion of a really low stance (winks).
Correct etiquette: Do not forget that the karate way begins with a bow and ends with a bow. As such, courtesy is always exhibited by bowing, heels together and toes pointing outward at 45 degrees, at the beginning and end of each kata.
Introduction to Judges: After the etiquette while advancing the judges table I make eye contact with all of them, if it’s a mixed (gender) group I refer to them as , for example,” Judges, my name is Jack Makinson, my kata will be Bassai Dai Major, Breaking through the Fortress”, with your permission, I’d like to begin” then wait for a nod from the center judge, usually.
Correct order: The number and sequence of movements in kata are predetermined. All must be performed correctly and in the correct order.
Correct performance line): The performance line is the fixed directions and angles in which the kata is performed. There are eight basic directions, namely front and back, left and right, and oblique to the front-left, front-right, back-left, and back-right.
Beginning and end: The advent of the "sporting era" in karate resulted in an emphasis on kata beginning and ending at the same point on the (performance line). Intensive training is necessary to perfect this. A good and strong ending of a kata is very important, as without such an ending, no matter how perfect and brilliant the kata was performed, it can never be perfect.
Awareness of the target: Realize where the imaginary opponent is and from where he is attacking. Be sure of the target and how, when and in which direction to move, strike or execute a technique. This entails the principle of accuracy. Although your attention must be fixed on the target, at the same time you must also be aware of "other opponents".
Eye position and focus of technique: making "eye contact" is an important aspect of Kata and technique execution. Imagine looking directly into the eyes of your opponent throughout the whole Kata. Eyes are critically important in showing the purpose of movements and should therefore show intensity throughout the entire kata.
Rhythm and timing: Every kata has its own rhythm, and this depends largely on the practitioner's own understanding and "application" of the various movements and techniques. In fact, you should visualize your opponent/s as you perform kata, so that it becomes a "reality" situation.
Correct breathing: Correct and controlled breathing during execution of kata is very important. Although specific conditions might be applicable, generally you inhale during the preparatory or "wind-up" part of a technique and exhale on executing the technique and settling into the final position of each stance and technique. Inhale through the nose and concentrate on exhaling via your diaphragm rather than your throat, and keep the shoulders relaxed. The more sharply the breath is exhaled (like a "soft" kiai), simultaneously tensing the abdominal muscles, the more powerful the associated technique. Tension should be felt under the armpits and not in the shoulders, while at the same time "rooting" yourself to the ground.


Respectfully submitted,

James (Jack) Makinson
1st Degree Cho Dan - American Tae Kwon Do
1999 US Open Champion, Orlando, Florida – Executive Men’s Kata Division
Instructors – John Graden, Bill “Superfoot” Wallace and Mr. Joe Lewis
Dojo: USA Karate – St. Petersburg, Florida