Womens martial arts Karate Virginia

Doing Karate Kata on Your Own Improves Application Understanding

Doing Karate Kata on Your Own Improves Application Understanding

Here are Ways to Improve Your Kata Performance & Understanding

Doing Karate Kata over and over trying to improve it each time quickly gets boring as performance improvement dramatically falls off.  Here are some general ways to do kata once you understand the basic embusen (form).

Do a Kata at

Regular Speed: Generally, you don’t pick up much new stuff you need to focus on. However, this begins to develop muscle memory.

TAI CHI Speed: Slowly and methodically perform your kata. You discover the transitions you don’t understand and generally skip over because you are doing them fast. You also discover when you are using your shoulders for blocks and punches rather than your hips. Ensure your forward elbow is touching your ribs as your hips move into position with the hands being pulled by the hip movement.  This really helps you with your ukiashidashi (backstance).

Dynamic Tension or Sanchin Speed: Tighten up all your muscles as you attempt to perform your kata, even stepping and transitions. This is exhausting.

Ballet Style: Loose, no muscular tension, just the opposite of the above.

Eyes Closed: Doing kata with your eyes closed immediately allows you to correct your stances when you are leaning too far forward, back or to the side. Remember head over hips! This really helps you with your ukiashidashi (backstance).

Ask Yourself What are the Applications? Some applications are readily obvious. Others require some coaxing. Say the 3 step-punch sequence in Kihon Kata 4 & 5 and many Pinan Kata. The 270 degree turn after the 3rd step-punch seems like a uke (receive an attack or block). Yet actually, it is a throw or arm break.

Regular Speed Again: Let’s finish off this session by doing kata at regular speed again. You should notice better balance, a better understanding of transitions (or know to ask questions about them), and better coordination between the FHH Movement. In case you forgot, that is the movement of the foot, followed by the hip and then the hands.

Good Luck in your Karate Kata Training!


Kiyoshi, 8th Dan, Virginia Dojo


Roberto began studying martial arts in 1969 at Michigan State University.  He studied Judo,  Kung Fu and various styles of Karate.  He started studying with now Grand Master Seikichi Iha, 10th Dan, Beikoku Shidokan Shorin Ryu in 1979 upon returning to MSU from Paraguay for graduate studies. He continues to train with Sensei Iha until now and is one of Iha’s senior students.


During Roberto’s long-term overseas assignments stationed as a Foreign Service Officer (Diplomat), he trained US Embassy Security Personnel, US Marines, foreign security operatives, and people just like you.  When stationed in the Washington, DC area he also always built a cadre of dedicated Shidokan Shorin Ryu Karate students.  Now retired from the Foreign Service he concentrates on teaching proven-effective adult-focused self defense karate at the Virginia Dojo in Alexandria VA.

Roberto’s Northern Virginia karate students convinced him to rent a more permanent location for his Karate instruction instead of wandering from building to building renting out space on an hourly basis in School gymnasiums and Churchs. In 2017 he and his students decided upon a unique space in an Alexandria office condominium complex. His students have built the office into an outstanding training space evoking the sense and feel of a traditional Okinawan Karate Dojo. In addition to karate training in Alexandria, many students drop by just to meditate, or for Yoga or Tai Chi classes. Feel Free to drop by even if just to see the dojo space!

Many people call the Virginia Okinawan Karate Dojo the Martial Arts Grad School because Roberto teaches pressure points, joint locks and grappling applications that Sensei Iha taught him during 40+ years of instruction in addition to the obvious percussion techniques of punching, kicking and blocking.

Roberto is a member of the East Coast Beikoku Shidokan Karate Black Belt Promotion Board and the National Black Belt Promotion Board. Among his numerous awards are:

“Best Martial Arts Teacher in Washington, DC” in 2017.

“Best Martial Arts in Washington, DC” 2018

“Best Martial Arts in Alexandria” 2019

“Best of Lessons.com” in 2018 and 2019

In addition to English, Roberto speaks Spanish, Italian, German, and some Guarani, Portuguese and Japanese.


Virginia Dojo

6416 Grovedale Dr., #302-B, Alexandria, VA 22310