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Power of pause

Intro

Some martial art students view a pattern as something that must be learned to progress in rank, but otherwise, they consider it useless. Others see it as a depiction of an imaginary fight. In fact, a pattern is the performance of individual fighting techniques connected by a geometrical pattern of movements and stances, all of which are performed in such an artistic manner that the total performance is appreciated more than is the performance of the individual parts.

When a martial ARTIST performs a pattern, it is a manifestation of that artist’s vision of what the pattern signifies. A pattern performance includes performing powerful techniques that are as near perfect as the performer can perform, smooth movements, solid stances, powerful techniques, and pauses.

Types of pauses

There are two types of pauses:
  • Contemplation. A contemplation pause allows the listener, reader, or viewer to hesitate for a moment and contemplate what was paused. It provides a break in the constant flow of incoming information so the viewer may process the information.
  • Pregnant. A pregnant pause builds expectation for what is to come. It builds suspense and allows the viewer to anticipate what is coming next. Many times, what comes next is the unexpected.

Why pause in a pattern? You don't pause in a fight

This is true, but you also do not move from stance to stance in a fight or use the antiquated blocks often seen in patterns. A pattern is an artistic performance, not a realistic imaginary fight. It allows you to demonstrate your martial art skills and your artistic interpretation of the pattern.

A pause makes the viewer more aware of what occurred just before the pause and increases their expectation of what will come next. Pauses allow a martial artist to add emotion to a physical performance. You pause as a way to enhance the pattern performance just as other types of artists use pauses to enhance their performances.

Great actors use pauses to give enhance their depiction of a character. Comedians use pauses to make their jokes funnier. Great speakers use pauses to let you think about what was just said. Sir Ralph Richardson once said, “The most precious things in speech are the pauses.” Dancers use pauses to express emotion without movement. Writers use punctuation to create pauses that increase the understanding of the words. Musicians use pauses to let the listener’s mind absorb the sound. For photographers, the photograph itself is an eternal pause. Great martial artists use pauses to enhance their pattern performances in much the same way.

A perfectly performed side thrust kick is a thing of beauty, but if it is performed so quickly that the beauty cannot be perceived, then the beauty is lost. However, if the kick fired powerfully and quickly, but paused for a second at full extension before a powerful and quick retraction, then the beauty of the kick may be comprehended and appreciated.

A part of an artistic performance is rhythm and rhythm requires pauses. The length of the pauses helps determine the beat of the rhythm. The rhythm of a pattern performance is determined by the pauses used in it—their frequency, quantity, and length. Some rhythms do not fit the performance, the pauses seem odd and out of place. This is where the artistry of the performer comes into play. A talented artist knows when, where, and for how long to place pauses.

If pauses in a pattern are too long, they will appear out of place; while pauses that are too short will not be as effective. We feel relaxed at watching waves crash onto a beach and listening to the rhythm of the crashes, but only because of the stillness of the slow flow of the water on the sand after the crash. Without the stillness, the crashing waves would become irritating; such as occurs during a storm when waves crash continuously without pause.

We need pause in our lives

To work better, we need breaks away from work. To relax, we need to breathe properly; we need to inhale, pause, exhale, and pause—not just constantly inhale and exhale. When we are relaxed, we perform better, we think better, and we understand better. Pauses help us relax. When a pattern is performed with the proper pauses, the performer is more relaxed and performs better, and the viewers feel relaxed and enjoy the performance better.

A master of the martial arts is a master of pauses.

SOURCES
  • Encamp, J. (2013) The True Power of Pauses in Kata Performance. http://www.karatebyjesse.com/pauses-kata-true-meaning

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