I was speaking to our students the other night and I said:
"If you are asked to do a demonstration and are assigned a beginner or intermediate kata, when you do it, make it look advanced. Doing a beginner kata like an advanced student is good. Doing an advanced kata like a beginner is bad."Of course, the characterization of kata as "beginner", "intermediate" and "advanced" presents problems. But generally, kata are taught to students based on their level. Beginners learn certain kata, intermediate students learn certain kata, and advanced students learn certain kata. And just because a student is advanced, does not mean that he will quit working on "beginner" kata. We keep working on all the kata we know.
If a student is assigned to perform Fukyugata Ichi, he should do it the best he can. He should do it in a way that reflects his ability. A person watching him should think, "Wow, that advanced student is doing a great job!"
What looks bad is when a student performs an advanced kata poorly. Then, you might ask whether he should have performed a kata more in line with his ability. Did he select an advanced kata because of his ego? You do not want a person watching him to think: "Why is that beginner performing an advanced kata?"
An advanced student makes all kata look advanced. A beginner makes all kata look like they are for beginners.
In fact, you can tell a lot simply by observing a punch or block. You can pretty much tell the student's level from just one movement.
In our system, students learn Naihanchi Shodan first. But that does not make it a beginner's kata. Given a choice, even the most advanced student would appreciate the opportunity to perform that kata in a demonstration. But he might not get to -- because I would pick it first!
Charles C. Goodin