Students who are studying to achieve the Yellow Belt ranking must learn and become proficient at performing two Tensoku Ryu Kihonteki Kata. These Kata (forms) are designed to reinforce knowledge of fundamental blocking and striking methods but also provide training on some stance work, guard positioning, centering, and octagon angles.
These two Kata were created by Richard Munson to provide a practice vehicle for essential blocking and striking skills that are studied by students who are striving to achieve the Yellow Belt (Hachikyu) ranking.
The first Kihonteki Kata, Kihonteki Shodan, focuses primarily on blocking skills. It also deals with two fundamental stances (Sochin Dachi and Zenkutsu Dachi). Ancillary but nonetheless important aspects of learning include maintaining a stable and erect posture, balance, centering, center rotation, stance transitioning, guard positioning, octagon angles, blocking efficiency, and eye positioning. There is a lot going on in what appears to be a very simple and limited form.
Students first learn Kihonteki Shodan after they have passed their first stripe test. Once a student is familiar with the requisite blocks and stances he or she will be introduced to the first Kata. The Kata is not particularly difficult to learn and can often be taught in one or two lessons. Once the student understands the essential pattern of the Kata then his or her instructor will begin to introduce additional considerations for the student to incorporate into the Kata. This is a never-ending practice. There is always some small improvement a person can make regarding how they think about or perform a Kata. It is the instructor’s job to introduce additional perspectives for the student to consider over time. These minor for perpetual improvements allow the student to appreciate greater insights about the Kata and martial arts theory over a protracted period.
Students must be able to demonstrate the ability to perform the Kihonteki Shodan Kata for their next stripe test. Once the second stripe test has been passed the student will then learn the second Kihonteki Kata, Kihonteki Nidan. Students must demonstrate the ability to perform this second Kata when testing for their third stripe.
The Kihonteki Nidan Kata is more dynamic and complex than Kihonteki Shodan. Kihonteki Nidan deals with multiple strikes of various types delivered at various octagon angles. It also focuses on continual stance transition changes to provide a somewhat more realistic sense of how striking combinations might be employed. The Kata provides a practice vehicle for fifteen different hand strikes, each delivered with the right and left hand. The Kata provides an enormous number of possible striking combinations and strike timing possibilities that students can explore over time. Initially, students are merely required to perform the prescribed strikes in the defined order. But as students become more advanced they will be introduced to other timing possibilities and combination considerations.
Students seeking to achieve the Yellow Belt ranking will be required to demonstrate both Kihonteki Shodan and Kihonteki Nidan during their ranking examination. Students are not required nor expected to perform these Kata in any manner other than described on the respective Kata instruction pages (see the links at the bottom of the page). There is plenty to learn without having to complicate things unnecessarily. Students testing for Yellow Belt simply need to demonstrate the ability to do the forms without error and with reasonable skill.
But with everything in Tensoku Ryu, we always seek to find ways to improve ourselves. As students advance they will be expected to perform these Kata differently. This will primarily involve thinking about the Kata differently. A student testing for Purple Belt would be expected to have more skill, knowledge, and insight that can be applied to the movements and sequences in these two fundamental Kata. This might allow the student to think of a block as a parry or a check rather than a simple block. A student might begin to consider how the return of a strike might be employed as a manipulation or strike in its own right. Consideration might also be given to how a sequence of two strikes or two blocks might be thought of as a single action rather than two separate events.
This type of thinking is what makes a Kata a lifelong learning vehicle. There is always some new way of thinking about how to employ a movement within the Kata. There is always some new Bunkai to consider or an additional strategic goal to contemplate. What appears to be a strike could be used as a block. And naturally what appears to be a block may be a strike, parry, check, manipulation, or Nage. The combinations and possibilities are endless and limited only by a practitioner’s imagination and current level of knowledge and skills development. The more you learn over time the more ways you will be able to employ the movements embedded in these two fundamental Kata.
Be sure you are familiar with the content of the following articles before attempting to learn how to perform these Kata. The information provided in the following links will make it much easier for you to follow the detailed instructions regarding the performance of these Kata. You will be easily confused if you do not have this background information.
The material in the following links will prove beneficial when attempting to improve the performance of these Kata once you have learned the fundamental patterns.
Here are the instructions for performing the two Kihonteki forms.