I was going through my empty hand katas today in the USF Rec Center. They had the Borg Scale (also known as Rate of Perceived Exertion ) listed on one of the walls. Between forms I would glance at it, and I started thinking about how I would rate the performance of kata. Also, what should it be?

If you are not familiar, the RPE is an arbitrary number indicating how hard you are working. It starts a 7 (I assume below 7 your are comatose or dead), and goes up to 20: maximal exertion. Around 10 is an easy pace.

Kata is definitely anaerobic. It is a true fight, and a true fight must tax your body. If you are doing cardio, you are pacing yourself. If you can pace yourself against your opponent, then you should be running away, this person isn't really trying to kill you.

I'm not talking about boxing or sparring here. Kata should be an enactment of the life or death situation. It is a simulation.

Ideally, kata should be 19 or 20 on the scale. Realistically, I think its hard to hit that level every time. You probably do in competitions, that's one of the good things about them. I think I was doing 15 or 16 today.

I also note on the CDC's page that there is a rough correspondence between the RPE*10 and heart rate. I was unaware of that, but it matches with the heart rate testing that I've done in the past with kata. I believe 150 bpm is actually a bit low, since it's hard for me to measure in the middle of performing (I can't exactly look at my watch). And it goes from a resting heartrate to that 150 value in the course of the form, which isn't a very long time.

Neat. I should aim to have someone else hold the watch and analyze heart rate some time. RPE is very handy though. I suggest you consider it at intervals during different types of training. How is it during sparring? How about on the punching bag?