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KATA, what is it?

By Mitchell Saba

Kata is a formal karate exercise. The sequence of movements of a Kata consist of logical combinations of the three fundamental movements (blocks, hand strikes and kicks). The Kata represents an imaginary battle with invisible foes. Katas are designed to help the student perfect their techniques while strengthening their timing, coordination and rhythm. Katas also offer a demonstration to the student of the use of each technique they learn. Every movement of the body, hands and feet have a meaning and function. The uniting of several singular defensive and offensive moves that form the Kata are often described as 'dance-like'. When performed properly, a Kata represents the beauty and self-discipline of karate and its practitioners.

Katas date back to the origin of karate itself, developed and perfected over the years by the masters. Katas are used to build strength, speed, accuracy and most importantly knowledge. Katas can be practiced individually, anywhere making them a perfect training tool. There are many Katas well over fifty among the different styles. Many styles share or have similar Katas.

In order to perfect Kata the student must first perfect the techniques it uses. Once this is done the student must perfect the mental attitude necessary to become a part of the Kata and have it become part of him. Most Katas begin with a ceremonial bow. This announces the beginning of the Kata and serves to center the karateka. The ceremonial bow is performed at the end of the Kata. The ceremonial bow is a very important part of all karate training but has a special significance in the Kata. A perfect Kata with imperfect ceremonial bows either beginning, ending or both soils the Kata performance by showing disrespect, lack of discipline and understanding. The body of the Kata should be performed with focus, power and understanding. A perfectly executed Kata ALWAYS returns the karateka to the EXACT same spot as they began. If the karateka does not return to the same spot they either performed incorrectly OR their stance and stride were not consistent.

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