Karate is a life long journey in which the destination is unimportant, goals may be made, but they are only there to provide direction and people tend to focus on these so much that they forget to focus on each step of the journey.
Some people chase rank and collect all sorts of things under their 'belt' as a sign of authority, really it is just to puff up the ego, some people have taken the time to really study and these people can truly perform, they do not get caught up in things and everything seems to fall in place naturally, whether they are of high rank or low rank.
There is so much to be gained from even a single movement if a Karateka has the patience to really pay attention.
It is never about quick learning, it is always about the journey, and even in a single movement is a lifetime of study.
Tonight I was focusing on the Morote Chudan Kamae, a position that so many of our Goju Ryu Kata take as a starting, the first movement after the bow and Yoei.
One person with whom I am acquainted is a long time student of Kayo Ong Sensei who states that Kata are a Mandala and they begin with Prayer, as expressed in the intention behind this movement, which does have some validity, depending on one's reasons for training, but I feel this is something that can be applied regardless of reason.
In my own practice, today, I was working on the mechanics of pulling back, punching, and returning to Kamae, fairly simple stuff, at least on the surface, but the mechanics are profound in the fact that these must be done in a way that is harmonious with the way the body is built.
Pulling back into Chamber, leading the motion with the breath, followed by the elbow, the forearm, the fist, then extending outward leading with intent, breath, fist, elbow, and the shoulder rotating slightly forward.
Returning to Kamae, rotating the shoulder back slightly, pulling the elbow into position, the hand following and slightly rotating back into position.
Adding to this the rest of the body, from the ground up, pushing with the heel and pulling with the ball of the opposite foot, shifting from pulling with the front foot and pushing with the back foot to pulling with the back foot and pushing with the front, depending on whether you are pulling to chamber, moving into a punch, or returning to Kamae, all the while rooted with the foot as if they are clay mashed into the ground.
Moving upward from there you have the knees, thighs, and hips adding to the motion, the spine straight as a current to the arms that carries the intent/energy in a flow that executes technique in such a way so as to expel the most power without losing energy and maintaining stability of the entire frame.
This has to be understood for each and every movement before one can move on to the quicker performances in Kata such as Seisan, Kakuha, Gekiha, Gekisai Dai San, Suparempei, or in anything that utilizes mechanics, which is to say ALL of Karate as a whole.
My own Sensei used to have us perform certain things at a Tai Chi like pace and another of his Students, a Sempai to me, Kris Wilder Sensei, always says to go slow in order to learn fast.
These days people tend to go straight to the quick and explosive stuff without truly thinking about, let alone focusing on, what it is they are actually doing, and this is true of any art.
This is why it took so long to learn even a single Kata in Okinawa Te before the onset of modernized and Japanized Karate, which is fairly modern and mostly seen as a sport.