Pondering some things that Sifu Pete Starr wrote recently, one of which really drove home a very important lesson.
I have read and re-read a book called 'Heiho Kadensho' by Yagyu Munenori and he talks about focusing on the 'Secret Sword' of the opponent while Sifu Starr talks about focusing on the opponent, reading the opponents' intention, but not focusing on WHAT they are doing exactly, in other words, getting hung up.
Sifu Starr talks about the disadvantage an opponent has in their attacks because their mind is only focused on one thing at a time while the advantage is found in, again, not focusing on what the opponent is doing (ie their fist coming at your head) but on the opponent... Not only ON the opponent, but through them, and not on 'this response' to 'that attack,' but on stopping them.
I was the most junior Student during Saturday Morning Sparring Classes at the old Bremerton Dojo, eleven years old, just barely learning Hookiyu Kata Dai Ichi, and I had no idea what Bunkai was and I was most certainly focused on the belt color of the person I was facing.
Sensei would have one person stand in the middle of the floor with a line of people ready to attack, the person could only defend and had to go through until the last person had a chance to attack, then would switch with next person.
When it was my time to face the line I was extremely nervous, I took note of the belt color, green, brown, another green belt, and would often zero in on the attacks, which meant I got hit... A LOT...
These days people focus on 'X' responses to 'Y' attacks and get hung up on these things, when it comes time to perform they zero in on these things and wonder why their basic training is not working out as well in Sparring.
Because they are TRYING to apply what they know and forget to focus on the 'Secret Sword,' hence, the other person, they lose their one point... Sensei always used to say 'You think too much, don't think, just do.'
That is something that cannot be repeated enough... When going through Kata it is okay to make corrections, to think about mechanics and proper angles in Embusen, but one cannot become hung up on these things and there must be a point, in Kata, where you focus on the 'Secret Sword' in order for it to be useful as more than just a training tool for correction.
It is meant to promote muscle memory and does not require much of the conscious mind, other than focus.