(2) After acquiring the rank of Shodan (first degree black belt) continue to intensely practice the six fundamental kata; however, now also work hard to master all four sentei-gata (Bassai Dai, Kanku Dai, Empi and Jion). Furthermore, select one of the five Junro kata (Shodan – Godan) and aim to perfect it. You may choose to just focus on the Junro kata you worked on previously or you might decide to “specialise” in another.
(3) The sixteen jiyu-gata are also available for practice after attaining one’s Shodan, however I recommend focusing on the aforementioned ten mandatory kata, and the Junro you like the most. If you decide to practice a jiyu-gata focus on one (and only do this once you are very confident with the “Big Four”). In this case, choose a jiyu-gata that really suits you in kumite. If you have great keriwaza you might choose Gankaku or Kanku Sho, or if you are well built and strong, perhaps Jiin, Jitte or Sochin. Nevertheless, it is well worth mentioning that it is highly respectable for a person taking the Nidan test to select a sentei-gata, and ironically, the best karateka tend to. Again, quality is what counts.
(4) There is nothing worse than seeing kyu graded karate students doing Unsu, Sochin, Gojushiho Sho or some other advanced kata. Yes, perhaps they can athletically emulate the movements, but the technical maturity needed to execute these kata is impossible for karateka without extensive training (usually holding Nidan at “the very earliest”). Using the example of competition in the traditional sense a great Bassai Dai will always beat a “so-so” Chinte. Likewise, a great Bassai Dai will pass the Nidan examination but the mediocre Chinte may not. In the case of kyu examination anything above the syllabus prerequisites will be failed. For example and likewise, if a person taking a traditional Shodan test, performs Nijushiho, they will fail the kata section of their exam. Overall, I think you get the idea…
- André Bertel