This past several month’s we have been practicing the kata Hangetsu in our Monday black belt class, translated to “Half Moon” in Japanese. Gichin Funakoshi felt the need to introduce tension-style training into the Shotokan repertoire as this was not only a great training and conditioning element, but also something very common in other styles of karate. Hangetsu was added to the list of Shotokan kata to make up for this missing element.
Before diving into the kata, we spent several months practicing the proper technique for executing the tension in the beginning moves of the kata. We practiced doing very slow punches in a hangetsu stance, giving special attention to the powerful tension and focus at the end of each punch. These were slow, concentrated punches that take approximately 5 to 6 seconds of movement before the full extension of the punch takes place.
Once we got the basics down, we started to practice the kata. On average, the kata should take approximately 63 seconds from beginning to end. Our entire class was surprisingly dead on each run through with the kata. One spot we immediately fixed when we started the kata were the “block punch punch” moves in the middle of the kata. The second primary spot were the slow hand-draw after the first kiai.
Overall Hangetsu was a great kata to work on. One different between our instructors methods and what I have seen elsewhere is the “block punch punch” moves. I have seen others do these in the Hangetsu stance, yet we practice them in a front stance. In my practices I always train how my master informs me so I am now doing these as front stance. But I always make note of things like these for down the road.