From your next grade onwards (i.e. Brown belt plus) you will be introduced to advanced techniques and new kata. Therefore, it’s imperative that you have a solid grasp of every technique and principle we have covered up to now, creating a solid platform for ourselves to work from.
With this in mind, no new kata or techniques are introduced at Red belt. Kata Bassai-dai is once again assessed for the next grading (Brown belt). You are now expected to have developed a better feel for the technical aspects of the kata, as well as show a greater level of skill, speed, and focus (kime).
Your Kihon (basic strikes, blocks, kicks and stances) are also expected to improve greatly as you progress towards Brown belt. Practising your Kihon in their individual components will obviously be well-refined by now.
Therefore the best way for an instructor to determine if a student’s Kihon are becoming instinctive is to observe them when they are putting multiple Kihon together, especially when they are moving between different stances while executing various attacking and defensive techniques. The reason for this is because multiple techniques do not allow the mind to focus solely on one thing.
There are three components of a class that a student will be able to demonstrate their level of conscious competence with their Kihon, these are:
1) Combination Drills
Of the three components, it is the combination drills that must show the greatest level of conscious competence (instinctive ability). This is because they are the easiest of the three components. This is due to:
a) They are always predetermined movements.
b) They are generally practised at a slow, then medium pace (allowing the student to get their mental and physical grasp on the combination) before adding speed and kime (focus one’s energy to deliver full power).
c) They do not involve a partner, therefore the student does not have to focus on other qualities such as distance and control.
2) Partner Work
Partner work can include Bunkai practise, self-defence training, or kumite drills. These are very similar to combination drills in the fact they are generally predetermined and practised at slow and medium pace prior to adding speed and kime. Because of this, it’s important that a student can demonstrate quality kihon during this training.
To state to obvious, considering partner work involves a partner, the student now has other things to disrupt their thinking (such as timing, distance, fear of being hit, control etc). This means the quality of their Kihon may slip considerably if their techniques have not become instinctive.
Partner work can sometimes involve using traditional kihon (eg formal stances) but more often the stances involve natural postures. Whenever this occurs, the principles behind the stances must still be apparent.
3) Jyu Kumite
Jyu Kumite (free sparring) is the most advanced component of the three because it is not pre-arranged. The student must decide which Kihon (which stance, block, kick or strike) is most appropriate at the time and then execute this in time for it to become successful.
The student also has timing, distance, control, fear of being hit, strategy, zanshin etc to occupy their mind. All of this can result in poor Kihon technique.
Students often develop many instinctive abilities in kumite (especially in regards to timing and their defence) but the quality of their kihon during jyu kumite is slower to develop. By Red belt a student should practise solo sparring, or at least solo kumite drills as part of their home training.