There are a few things in my life that I believe to be beautiful and kata is one of them.
From the moment I was taught my first kata I was hooked. I loved it. A set of predetermined movements that you had to learn, practice and perfect.
I was recently told that my katas were really good. I thought they were just average but this small comment gave me a new lease of life in my karate. I decided I would specialise in kata. I have since taught myself a few new katas.
You may wonder what is the point of doing kata? What good could a kata be in a fight? A part of practising kata is the bunkai. Bunkai is the analysis of the techniques in a kata. We do the techniques but do we really understand what we are actually doing? Karate students can interpret the moves differently. The first move in Pinan Yondan could be an attacker coming in with a punch, the defender grabs the hand and strikes to the neck. Or could it be someone grabbing your shoulder, you elbow them in the face and strike another attacker coming from the other side. As Kenwa Mabuni quotes, ‘Do not fall into the trap of thinking that just because a kata begins to the left that the opponent is attacking from the left’. When I first read this it blew my mind.
The techniques in a kata are carried out at different speeds. There are certain movements that we perform slowly and with tension. In reality these techniques are very dynamic and need to be executed fast. To me it’s the transition between fast and slow movements that make a kata look good.
Basically if you practise kata enough the moves will come naturally when defending yourself. This is because they are all basic techniques moving through different stances. A slightly more interesting way to practise the basics then going up and down the dojo don’t you think?
If you get a chance watch YouTube, find the katas performed in world competitions. They are amazing.