Actually, I’m sending this short note and videos with the white belts in mind, although it certainly applies to all of us. Being able to perform kihon and kata well is the product of practice, practice, practice. Training with a focus on improvement is the best one can expect of oneself. Here’s a clip of a young Mahiro Takano (6 years old at the time) performing Heian Shodan (along with her brother):
She’s good eh? As a youth, she won the kids JKA kata championship something like six times. The immediate thought is, she must have been doing this right after she climbed out of her crib, haha. She has trained consistently since she started as a four-year old. By contrast, see what Mahiro looked like, performing Heian Shodan when she was four:
Cute yeah? Looks like any white belt kid just beginning to learn Heian Shodan, though I must say that she had a nice deep stance, even then. Today, Mahiro is about 14 years old and still practicing her katas. Here she is, practicing Kanku Dai recently:
Now, you don’t have to spend all of your free time training in karate. And a young white belt first starting his/her sojourn in karate may never become a national kata champion, but for every one of us (your old sensei’s included), developing a focused attitude during training is perhaps the greatest gift that karate can give us. Striving to improve and perseverance are keys to success in karate…and in life.