What is Kata?
Information include excerpts from several sources including Wikipedia
What is Kata?
Kata is not an exclusive term to the martial arts, it rather implies a formal way of doing something, and has a deeper meaning that is connected to almost every aspect of life. There is a formal tea ceremony; there is formal dojo etiquette, and a form method of greeting someone—particularly seniors, elders, and significant persons. There are two translations of the kanji for kata. One is a vessel for holding water, 形 the other is punishing the ground, or forming a mold from earth. 型
Karate is a discipline of the mind and body as much as it is a martial art; its roots are in antiquity. Generations of masters have transmitted their knowledge and secrets to the next generations through kata—a series of movements and techniques that are practiced in a pattern, each designed to teach a central principle or a set of common technique which are done at a certain speed and tempo.
There are many variations to kata, depending on interpretation and their transitions from soft to hard styles. The point to keep in mind is that most schools have their essential roots in Chinese forms, which blended both the heard and the soft.
Why it is important to Practice Kata
Practicing Kata is an essential element of effective Karate training. Karate, whose value for the well-rounded development of strength, coordination and agility is scientifically validated, requires no special equipment and can be practiced through Kata at any time, in any place, for any length of time, by people of all ages. Practicing Kata requires endurance and commitment that transcends the mere physical. Kata techniques foster the development of good moral character and spiritual qualities that include courage, courtesy, integrity, humility and self-control.
Students appreciate this only after they have mastered the basic Kata movements, as discussed below, that become part of their being. Practice of the basic Kata movements is the focus that leads to the mastery of self- the essence of Karate.
Kata is a systematically combined series of defensive and offensive paired units of techniques performed in a sequence against one or more imaginary opponents, in a symmetrical, linear pattern, that begins and ends in the same place. These techniques include punching, blocking, striking and kicking.
The movements of a Kata are divided into basic and transitional with an accompanying set of coordinated breathing units. For maximum efficiency, proper breathing during a movement is essential. Basically a defensive technique is executed with inhalation, where an offensive technique is executed with exhalation.
The basic movements are the fundamental defensive and offensive movements of fighting. Students must practice these fundamentals until they become an instinctive part of their character. They are divided into five categories; ready stances, stances, attacking techniques, and blocking and kicking techniques.
Practice of the basic movements enables a student to achieve a natural, beautiful, swift, stable, and powerful performance of Kata. From this come the reflexes and spontaneous movements necessary for successful defense and offense in actual combat.
The transitional movements serve to connect the basic movements, one to the other, and are frequently used in pre-arranged kumite. The transitional movements are not part of the paired techniques of offense and defense, but are fighting postures that act as links between the paired units. The transitional movements must not be thought of in a separate context, for they are woven into a Kata, and are indispensable to it.
To train the body properly, constant repetition of Kata movements is required. Only long and extensive repetition enables the student to fuse all of his strength into the movements.
Kata training is superior exercise. It requires the body to move in all directions so there is uniform development. There is no danger of overexertion or physical exhaustion. As the student’s body is built-up and the techniques become more skillful, the movements naturally become more powerful. The amount of exercise entailed increases naturally as the training progresses. Thus, through Kata, the transitional and basic movements combine with proper breathing to produce the vital power of karate.