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What is Kata? And Why Do We Need It?

"No two answers are ever exactly the same"

Neither question I suspect, will get you exactly the same answer if you were to ask it of several different karate-ka. For the simple reason that while we all appreciate what we can achieve through the regular practice of kata, we do not all see kata in the same way. Yes, there will always be a similar theme running though any number of answers to these two questions. But, it is precisely our personal points of view that is the dividing line that that separates each of us as individuals.

Here is my short answer to the first question, “What is kata”?

“Kata is amongst other things, a means by which we can all self practice the basic fundamental defensive and offensive techniques, that are the underlying foundation of what is referred to as traditional karate”. While my answer does not dwell on the “other things” that kata has to offer, this is intentional. Because I want to make a specific point about what kata, is not intended to do.

While we are all bound by the unique and unchangeable movements found in any kata, our practice is not intended to make us believe that these specific movements are the only responses should we use, given a similar set of circumstances in real-life. They are simply one possible example.

Here is my answer to the second question, “Why do we need it”?

“Kata defines us as traditional martial artists”.

Without kata the art of traditional karate-do has no center, no soul if it were. Kata is where we practice what we are taught. The how, and the why. Anywhere, at any time, without the aid of a partner, or any equipment. Kata is the primary means by which we can seek to perfect our character, while at the same time seeking to dive below the surface of karate, and seek what else lies underneath.

Do you agree with my thoughts, or not?

How would you respond if you were asked these same two questions?

Let me know.

Remember: "How we think about what we know, often determines how we use it"