Friday 5 September 2008

True Kata

I recently read a superb article on kata by Shaun Banfield (Co-Creator, writer and designer of 'The Shotokan Way' website). The article for me is literally the best I've read (on the subject of kata) in the last few years. His points really summed up my approach to kata far better than I ever could, and in my opinion, summarized what 'true kata' is ('martial art kata'). The statements that Shaun makes in his article technically oppose the present-day competition kata, which has literally become a lame form of gymnastics. To me, his article defines the difference between the Sochin of Osaka Yoshiharu Sensei, and the Unsu of Yahara Mikio Sensei, and the kata performed by the majority of current ‘champions’. Essentially karate kata as a martial art - functional form, verses karate kata as a performance – nothing more than an athletic display.

Ironically, kata performed as a martial art really turns heads (amongst the general public who appreciate fighting arts) as it displays fighting, a perfect connection to kihon and kumite. Whereas the 'sports karate kata', whilst perhaps appearing more 'tidy'/'accurate', typically lacks ferocity and effective fighting technique. Arms and legs flapping around fast without harnessing the power of the entire body, pauses long enough for a commercial break (yawn), and no aim to achieve a finishing blow with each action.

Shaun's approach to his kata is a great example for everyone. Especially those who are seeking to make their kata training an effective part of their overall training regime.
Follow this link to check out this excellent article:
© André Bertel, Japan 2008

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