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Kata - form or function.

There are only two ways.

As students of Shotokan Karate we know that kata lies at the heart of our training.

After all it is the essence that holds our style together.

I suspect that hardly a day goes by in any Shotokan dojo where the practice of kata does not take place. One day you might find yourself in a group setting. While on another day you might find yourself training alone where how you chose to approach the kata may be entirely up to you.
I have a question for you.

When you get the chance to chose your approach to a kata do you prefer practice for "form" or for "function"?

Form, is all about the quality of every movement. Here you are simply using the embusen of the kata to improve all of your techniques. This is the hardest way to practice a kata. Since at some point your mind will start to wander from this sole purpose which is when bunkai will begin to creep into your thoughts.

Function, on the other hand is all about bunkai. Here you are meant to be thinking about attack, defense, spirit, and drive. All the reasons why you are doing each movement. This is where your imagination, or a partner, needs to come into play.

Each of these two different scenarios therefore requires a totally different mindset.

So, I ask you again.

When you get the chance to chose your approach to a kata do you prefer practice for "form" or for "function"?

Whether you know it or not your answer says a lot about you.

As for me function would be my first choice.

Although form is probably where my heart lies.

Remember: "To succeed at anything, you must remain focused until the end."