Why I Prefer Kata, Instead of Kata?

Ben's Kaikan Shoot HQ-74.jpg

There are two common Kanji for Kata, 型 and 形.

The first Kanji signifies suffering above ground, and indeed this is fitting for some methods of practicing Kata.

Methods where you keep going, pushing, sweating, and panting to hone your technique and train your body so that when the time comes it will work.

To me, however, this is just one way, and not, by all means, the only way.

You can practice Kata slow, fast, with power, without power, in tension and without tension.

You can do single sections repeatedly, you can do the Kata using only the top or the bottom half.

That is how versatile Kata is as a training tool.

The most versatile aspect of Kata is in how we adapt it to ourselves.

You see the second Kanji, which represents water taking on the form of the container, means that Kata can take on the form of whatever context it is in, standing, on the ground, long or short range.

It can also take on the form that best suits ourselves, our capabilities, and our best attributes.

If you understand how to read Kata you will see that it is not so literal in its meaning. It is not saying that when you put the Kata into use that you must do it exactly as you practised, but rather that you should use the lessons and principles that it taught you.

In Dave Lowry’s book Sword and Brush: The Spirit of the Martial Arts’ there is a beautiful description of his thoughts on Kata, and how the Kanji, 形, can represent the shadow of a window lattice, imposed on the floor as light streams through the window. The shadow is not the window, but it is in the form of the window.

So yes, Kata can be a punishing and gruelling way of practising Karate.

But I think, more importantly, it is the form in which you wish to use it that matters the most.

As Bruce Lee, creator of the style-less Jeet Kun Do, said "Be water, my friend".