Kata is a set of pre-determined
movements which consists of defensive and offensive techniques
performed in a particular sequence. Each movement and technique
in a kata is made up of selected elements suitable to circumstances
of real world fighting. Katas are developed and scientifically
improved over the course of time by Karate masters.
A Kata is performed alone against imaginary opponents. It serves
the pupose of developing good posture, execution of techniques
and mental concentration (focus). Each step of the Kata needs
to be analysed and understood before the Karate practioner can
apply it to real fighting. Kata embeds strategies of fighting
designed to expose different parts of the opponent's body and
follow-up with offensive techniques.
Now a days there is much misunderstanding
of Kata. Many martial arts, including Traditional Karate people
are asking what is the Kata for? It seems irrelevant for application
and most instructors today don't have the answer.
The result of this ignorance is a very shallow martial art. In
some non - traditional competitions or clubs, the practitioners
are allowed to make up their own Katas. They are trying to make
up the Kata more exciting by adding gymnastic like movement, jumping
kicks and colorful outfits, and they are even performing their
Kata to music. Another expression of the ignorance is Kick boxing,
where they gave up the Kata all together and just practicing the
external techniques of Karate and trying to immediately apply
them with partner in sparring. Those are sad examples of throwing
away knowledge that accumulated through generations in the form
Kata is the heart of Karate, and everything that we know, we know
How Is Kata so Important?
Kata is Symbol of Principle
The masters of old created Kata, as results of experience in actual
fighting, they contracted certain principles in the form of Kata
and we have to unlock the code that is within the Kata. Certain
ideas can not be understood by verbal explanation, as much as
we will explain people are going to understand it with their own
judgment different from one another.
We can use science to explain the dynamic of certain technique
and it's helpful but not enough, the human being is not a machine,
and as much as we can imitate the technique, it will be only external
but we need to get the feeling of it.
The principles that the Kata teaches us go beyond correct technique
and directly to application.
An obvious example is the principle of "feeling, reaction,
action, technique one after another, but all together" which
mean that we don't look to analyze and than react with the proper
technique but react by feeling directly through the nervous system
in the spine and through accumulated training, this reaction becomes
the proper body action and transmit ion into technique. So the
Kata gives us both physical tools and tuning of the mind into
a state of effortless alertness.
Kata is a Means of Freedom of Movement
As much as the Kata seems restricted, the goal of the Kata is
freedom and we can achieve that because the Kata is teaching us
to conduct our energy in different directions most efficiently,
and this efficiency will eventually be brought to any line of
movement at any range (we start from big to small) depending on
the necessity of th application. The Kata has to become "form
of No form".
Kata gives us the Ideal
With a strong stimulus like an opponent we are too busy and excited
to correct habits and on the contrary our habits will be magnified.
Kata is Physical Development
"In Kata we practice big movement
synchronized with breath and the body always moves as a whole
unit from the ground up.
This will keep the body elasticity and strength and will keep
the joints free and the body develops in harmonious ways, therefore
Karate can be practiced until an old age." Master Funakoshi
(The founder of Shotokan Karate practiced until near his death,
at the age of 90).
Also the balanced training of both sides will ensure balance development
which helps in preventing injury even though in application we
naturally prefer one side over the other. In most sports, the
athletes practice mostly with one side (Tennis, Golf etc.).
Kata for Well Rounded Training of
When we practice Jiu Kumite (Free Sparring) or for competition
most of us tend to have 2 or 3 techniques that are our favorite
but the Kata forces us to practice many techniques that fit many
self defense circumstances further than fair fight that is the
case when we practice Jiu Kumite.
Another aspect of this point is that a Karate person that is limited
to a few favorite techniques is incomplete and can not contribute
to the development of Traditional Karate. He could not teach students
according to their own natural tendencies because of his own limited
Kata as Training for Mental Control
Kata should not be considered as solely physical performance,
it is the spirit of the performance that is the essence of the
Kata. The right spirit must be presented in order to follow the
principle of maximum efficiency. You must be in correct mental
state for practice to be effective, attention can not be paid
only to the mechanics of the Kata but to harmonious cooperation
of mind and body.
As we develop certain reflexes we also must develop certain mental
qualities to accompany those reflexes as proper spirit to each
technique, as Zan-Chin which is certain alertness or full mind
by which we can control the opponent and respond to him.
Kata helps us to transcend beyond merely mechanical reaction to
the many circumstances we could encounter into a level of "unconscious"
reaction which we don't know what our action would be while doing
Through Kata we can transcend techniques so that Karate becomes
an "artless art", this is level of mastery.