Judo Kata Competitions: A Review of Practice Strategies for the Goshin Jitsu
© Jim Sheedy – March 2010
Kata has recently grown in popularity as a competitive pursuit. There are now formal World Championships, the first IJF event was held in Malta during 2009. Kata such as the Goshin Jitsu provides another avenue for people to pursue the pleasure of movement through judo and appreciate it’s origins as a martial art (Feldenkrais, 1952; Kotani, 1968). The Goshin Jitsu was formerly included in the judo (grading) syllabus by the Kodokan in January 1956 (Kotani, 1968: 54); and comprises of 21 techniques.
Some former competition judoka from the shiai stream seem to perform well in Kata competitions. This may be a bit surprising considering their focus for many years has been on shiai, competition strategies and intense training. Hence, they were likely to have been time (and finance) poor in regards to Kata practice or competition options. Those from the recreational stream would be expected to have more surplus time to pursue Kata with less squad training commitments, weight category demands, injuries and shiai focus. However, some coaches suggest that Kata can enhance both competition and technical skills in some form or another (Fukuda, 1973).
Kata has always had a place in the grading syllabus (Kodokan, 1955). There was an understanding, an unwritten law perhaps, that the judoka currently in, or from the shiai stream, were not always expected to have such a high quality of demonstration as those coming through the non-competition stream (service grades). Never-the-less, some judoka from the shiai stream seem to display excellence in Kata; a point worth noting by those who demean the focus on shiai in some contexts. Perhaps it is the former shiai players who persist in participation, or progress to Kata competitions when the rigours of combat are memories. Further formal research may clarify these issues: who pursues Kata competitions and what background in practice strategies they possess?
The Goshin Jitsu as a Competitive Entity
Kata is subjectively scored and consequently the objectivity of a competition win by such means as shime waza, for example, in shiai is not present (Kawaishi, 1955). It is however developing as an international competitive entity and eventually it may have stringent regulations such as the size and weight of weapons, drug testing, pregnancy testing and consistency in scoring by judges. Other sports that are subjectively scored, such as gymnastics, have done much to minimise inconsistent judging and corruption in their sport. Judo may have lots to learn from those who have gone before. Katas like the Goshin Jitsu will hopefully always have a human (subjective) element in the scoring as the aesthetics and interpretation of the Kata are also deemed important in addition to the correct sequence (Kudo, 1967).
Training for Kata is often a situation where the judoka lets the skill practice create the energy demands; the judoka feel they obtain sufficient fitness by solely practicing the Kata. Undertaking an analysis of the Kata in question may also assist in the training process clarifying exactly what the fitness needs may be. In the Goshin Jitsu, Uke is generally working in an aerobic zone continuously, whereas Tori must stop occasionally and wait for weapon changes. Fortunately, there is not likely to be a significant oxygen debt or anaerobic toxin build-up to unduly stress Tori at these points in the Kata.
Notes: The Kata took 7 minutes and 6 seconds in total to complete (426 seconds). Tori had sub totals of 2 minutes 19 seconds rest and 4 minutes 47 seconds of action. Uke completed the total 426 seconds of the Kata being continuously active, probably in an aerobic zone, including weapons arrangements and bowing on and off procedures.
The coach has a role in analysing the physical demands of Kata for their students and modifying training where necessary. Table 1 indicates a sample time sequence of the Goshin Jitsu reflecting, in an elementary fashion, the energy demands of this Kata. The weapons are relatively light-weight and at this stage and there are no precise IJF regulations as to the dimensions, weights or materials of the imitation weapons used, only general guides. When such regulations are initiated coaches will need to rethink their training regimen. For example the Cane may be deemed to meet the requirements of between 750 and 1000 mm long, between 20 and 30 mm in diameter and must weight between 400 and 600 grams. The Cane could be required to be made of bamboo, or an approved form of cane, and be of a natural cane colour or clear coating. Similarly exact dimensions may be stipulated for all weapons used in IJF Kata events or perhaps the organisers will supply the weapons to be used to ensure consistency.
Physical practice depends partly upon access to the Kata partner. If this is too infrequent then supplementary training may be needed. Individualised circuits for Uke and Tori can be developed to aid specific fitness for the participants. Interval running at: a work rest ratio of 1:1; at target heart rates; specific time intervals and distances may compliment the training for those who do not have much on-the-mat practice time available. Other training adjuncts are possible depending on the injury history, size and weight of the weapons and physiological needs of the athletes concerned. Solo practice and the energy consuming Kiai practice can be undertaken where there is little opportunity for physical practice with the Kata partner. Of course other training methods are equally as effective and well documented in most exercise physiology or coaching texts. One can also ask a competent coach for their advice.
Additionally, mental practice is an integral part of Kata training, and may occur whether the judoka is conscious of it or not. The coach has much to do in this regard in maximising the effectiveness of mental practice for the Kata exponent (Sheedy, 2009). Devising a safe and effective regimen, controlling anxiety, designing individualised primary to secondary strategy practice ratios, segmenting the tasks and other key aspects of mental practice is in the realm of the coach. Fortunately there are many good books, coaching resources and people around to assist in this regard (Sheedy, 2009). Written records of quality mental practice will enhance learning and performance: colour-positive; times taken; weekly schedule; ratios; cue words, and other individualised strategies all have the potential to assist. This information is recorded in the judoka’s training log book or diary for constant review and improvement.
Practicing and improving in the Goshin Jitsu Kata can be a highly intrinsically rewarding activity. It can be fun as well as a competitive avenue within judo. The Goshin Jitsu is one of the most visually pleasing and demanding Katas in Judo’s curriculum. As an internationally competitive entity it is still in the developmental stage. The inquisitive coach is always looking for opportunities to improve performances and by a critical analysis of the training options for the judoka Goshin Jitsu performances may be enhanced.
Perhaps the next step is to undertake some formal research into the performance demands of the Goshin Jitsu where participants can be monitored during competition or training and the data analysed. Such data may include heart rate, respirations, visual tracking and cognitions. Armed with such information the astute coach may be able to refine an individualised training program for the specific needs of the student concerned.
Feldenkrais, M. (1952). Higher Judo: Ground Work. Frederick Warne & Co.: London
Fukuda, K. (1973). Born for the Mat Fukuda: Japan
Kawaishi, M. (1955). My Method of Judo Foulsham: London
Kotani, S. Osawa, Y & Hirose, Y. (1968). Kata of the Kodokan Judo Revised Koyano Bussan Kaisha: Japan
Kodokan (1955). Illustrated Kodokan Judo Kodansha: Tokyo
Kudo, K. (1967). Judo in Action: Throwing Techniques Japan Publications: Tokyo
Sheedy, J. (2009). Elements of Judo: A Guide for Coaches J & K Sheedy: Mudgee, Australia
Note: The analysis of the Goshin Jitsu in Table 1 is from a training video by Jason King and Kiki Velloza of New Zealand performed at Gisborne in 2009.
Last Updated on Sunday, 21 March 2010 02:49