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THE ESSENCE OF KATA - Understanding what it truly is...

Understanding how a Karateka is to learn kata is very difficult. Most people teach Kata as an exercise or pattern of movements or even a means to earn a new belt. In truth Kata is much deeper in meaning than this. In this article we delve deeper into understanding the true way to learn Kata, the importance of understanding and respecting it as well as what is meant by seeking perfection in your training.

Kata has been quoted by many great masters responsible for the founding of Karate as a teaching tool. Our forefathers created Kata so students could practice their martial arts skills without injury to others and gain a deeper understanding of both their art and their own self through daily practice. Kata was not devised to be what it has become today but rather a way to teach students proper techniques of the art form they study. Every Kata has a deeper meaning hidden within its own movements but unfortunately many modern Sensei simply perform Kata and thus that is the way they teach it to their students. The true meaning behind training Kata is rapidly declining but if a Karateka ever experiences a real master of a Kata performing it they will gain a deeper respect for the history and practice of them.

When you are training your Kata you must understand that the first step is to memorize the movements so you can perform them with no hesitation. After this has occurred is when you true Kata training can take place. There are subtle steps one must take to master Kata and each one requires many years of disciplined practice.

Earning the trust from your Kata...

Every student begins training their Kata with the full intent on mastering it but once they have memorized it, or used it to earn a belt they fail to practice it. It is funny that most students today move from dojo to dojo within three to six months, or quit entirely. They just do not understand that Karate, just like Kata requires the greatest discipline. After so much unfaithfulness how can your Kata ever trust you with its greatest secrets?

Learn to HEAR the Kata...

Most students "walk" through the moves of Kata nowadays. They never practice the Kata while letting go of their thoughts and feelings. A good Karateka will learn to master the art of listening to the Kata. No your Kata can not talk to you. No your Kata will not make music. What is meant by listening to the Kata is to patiently train it to perfection. Once you begin to reach the listening level your Kata will slowly begin to show its deepest secrets. You must never argue with your Kata and "never" insist that you know its true meaning for then you will soon find it no longer speaks to you.

Slow down and enjoy the Kata...

Most students today seems to be in a hurry to learn their kata...so much so that they often forget that Kata is a practice of perfection. Rushing through the movements causes the student to lose the deeper appreciation for the fine aspects of this rare art form. Take time when training your Kata to enjoy its finer points. The beauty of the stances, the precision of its defenses and the flowing of the techniques into one complete Kata.

Tips on Perfecting and Respecting the Kata...

As a Karateka you must spend some time daily with your Kata. Do not invite any other students, either real or imaginary into the practice.

Patience is a virtue and have plenty. Perfecting your Kata is a very hard and long journey. Some Kata just are not easy and you will need to have patience to learn them and perform them.

As always best wishes in your pursuit of Fudoshin!