I am a 60 y.o. male. I work to maintain my conditioning as best I can. I find age catching up to me as each day passes; that is not a bad thing. My job in this earth plane is to age with as much grace as is possible. That having been said. The various activities that I take part in are what keep me going. Although I am dealing with chronic, musculo-skeletal challenges, I am still able to ‘do things’. In light of the practical application being discredited by some, I find that kata practice is very good for coordination, control, concentration.
Generally speaking, aging brings about slowing down of things. Testosterone, for men, drops to below normal levels. This does not mean that men cannot do things as much as it implies that men must approach the things that they do with a little more intention and thought, as relates to their capabilities. Strength training, then, is a must for the the aging male. However, a martial artist must include technique repetition as a necessary component of one’s training regimen. Kata must be considered an integral component of a (traditional) Martial Arts regimen as well as a way to stimulate integration of body and fine motor movement.
Kata, for me, is a way to connect mind and body. Is it fighting?? No, it is not fighting. Is it, in and of itself, useful?? No, it is not a stand alone practice. It is a a modality through which one can dial in the fundamentals of movement and execution into the neural pathways. Real fighting, of course, would elicit some glossing over of the preciseness of the techniques but rehearsing them, through kata, in combination with sparring, bag work and post striking, would lend to enhancing the ability for one to perform / execute the techniques / movements.
To do kata at a half speed (or more) teaches rhythm and develops mechanics. Performing kata slowly teaches control and instills neuromuscular connectivity. To the degree that one challenges themselves through, the use of, slow kata, they improve the body’s ability to perform the basics of techniques. I like to use leg weights and a weight vest to create a dynamic where the body is forced into a position of controlling movement. The demands placed upon the body encourage the neuro-muscular complex to adapt and increases the body’s [erformance capability. Repetition, in this way, will assist in dialing in a technique (or a series of techniques).
In the words of Bruce Lee: Practice all movements slow and fast, soft and hard; the effectiveness of (jeet kune-do) depends on split-second timing and reflexive action, which can be achieved only through repetitious practice.