Why do Katas
1. Forms being combinations of attacks and blocks, teach the student to put together into combinations the basic attacks and blocks he has learned. These combinations become so habitual that he can use them in fighting without having to stop and figure out what comes next. The process of putting together attacks and blocks itself becomes familiar to him. So he is able to execute combinations of movements necessary to meet a given situation, without having to think out each step in process. Learning the process of attacks and blocks is more important than learning the individual combinations because the process once learned offers an infinity of attacks and blocks.
2. Forms, when the student can finally do one or more of them approximately correctly, develop precision of movement. Not only must the student have speed and focus, but they must be delivered accurately. This leads to the ability to deliver a swift, powerful blow on target.
3. Every movement in every form must be done in balance. The ultimate blow in fighting, which demands that the blow is not only accurate, fast, strong, and focused, must be delivered from a position of balance. If it is delivered from a position of unbalance, the defender will be extremely vulnerable if he is teetering to one side or the other or leaning forward or backwards.
4. The execution of form enables the instructor to tell how far the student has progressed. How well he does his forms is a good measure of how he can fight. If he can bring his forces into focus on target doing a form, he can also bring those forces into focus on target against an opponent.
5. Students frequently want to learn forms above their belt ranking. No matter how much he practices he still would not be able to execute his forms perfectly. He can always do them more precisely, faster, and with better focus. If a student builds on a faulty foundation then his higher forms will be faulty.
6. Katas and forms are stylized sequences of attacks and blocks of varying degrees of difficulty. Each position is specific. There is only one right way to do it. It must be done in the prescribed manner with the prescribed rhythm and end in the prescribed position. It also must be done with strength and speed. Speed does not mean a rapid succession of motions. It means that the individual motions are done with maximum speed of movement of the hands or feet which are involved in that particular movement. The strength involved is not achieved by hunching up the shoulders, gritting the teeth, and going through a motion with maximum tension.
7. A strong motion is one that is focused correctly, so the entire strength is brought into focus at the conclusion of the movement. Thus, doing forms requires five (5) separate disciplines of the student.
a. He must learn the forms that he does so that he does all the motions correctly and end up in the terminal
positions in the correct posture. This is accuracy of his movements.
b. His movements must be fast.
c. His moves must be strong.
d. Each movement must be focused.
e. He must be balanced at all times.
8. Katas and forms are also formal exercises of a number of offensive and defensive movements. It is a dance-like routine devised for home training for index movements that would otherwise be lost.
9. The shorter and slower sets are used to develop power and strength. The longer and faster sets are to develop timing, coordination and speed.
10. Katas and forms are designed for defense, counter and attack, and to develop coordination, fluidity, speed, and familiarity with combination techniques. Concentration and imagination are of the utmost importance for maximum benefit.
11. Kata is a body of knowledge and techniques employing practical self defense applications through the use of repetition. You learn to perform a sequence of movements (techniques) without having to think about what to do, or how to do them.
12. When practicing and performing kata you learn how to flow from one technique to another while also learning to mount a continuous defense. In a typical self defense move, there is an attack phase followed by a defensive counter move. In real street self defense the action is usually intense and continuous. It simply doesn’t end because you have finished your initial technique. Kata training allows you to transform these moves into a continuous defensive effort that is easily adapted to a combative situations ever changing conditions. Therefore, kata teaches you to execute your movements completely.
13. When sparring or performing drills with a partner, you tend to pull your punches. However, when practicing kata you devastate your opponent with every blow. Kata should be performed with maximum intensity, without pulling your punches, blocks, or kicks. The key to proper training is to put 100% effort into every move. Each block or strike must be done as if it were your last, with total commitment of mind, body and spirit. Again, this will help you to prepare you for street combat where nothing is pulled or held back.
14. In order to be a good fighter, one must fight. To be a good karate fighter, one must practice karate (all types of martial arts), and to practice karate, one must also practice kata with intensity to develop a high skill level. This takes lots of time and effort, and unfortunately, most people are not willing to invest in this amount of time and effort. Hence, in competition we see a lot of inferior katas being performed. The winners are usually those who have invested much time, and plenty of effort.
15. Katas make karate an art form that separates it from street brawling by employing systematized movement, techniques, and exercises, which gives the student an avenue to practice something lifelong, while striving for perfection.
So the next time you hear someone say that their martial art style does not do kata because it has nothing to do with self defense, or street fighting, and that it is a waste of time, he will only demonstrate to you that this person cannot perform good kata at all, and that their knowledge is relegated to the dinosaur age.
Anyone can be taught to fight and brawl, but very few can perform excellent kata. Be proud of the forms and katas that are a part of your martial art and practice them often. Build your stamina and reflexes and enjoy an aerobic workout. With intensity, you will be pleased at how strong and agile your body will become.
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This page was last updated on 07/05/07