This and last weeks training has largely been dedicated to Unsu kata, and primarily the rendition of Unsu that Asai Tetsuhiko Sensei taught , which differs significantly from the version now seen in competitions. Like the other standard Shotokan karate-do kata, Asai Sensei had a different take on it. However, I think this is typical amongst the masters of karate-do, based on their application preferences, and unique physical attributes. With little analysis it is easy to establish, that even though ‘standard' technical form must be adhered to, we must still develop our ‘own karate’. Little do some people know, as many kata as Asai Sensei introduced and engineered, he was actually 'kumite focused'. To him, the kata he passed on were for this purpose, martial arts-fighting technique.
Whilst I’ve practiced Unsu for many years, I certainly do not claim to be good at it, nor any other kata in the ‘performance sense’. My goal is, and has always been, to continue seeking to improve my skills, via kata and all the other forms of training, keeping foremost in mind that kihon is kata, and kata is kumite. Asai Sensei's perspective was if each technique in kata, is kumite focused, it may not win competitions, but who cares? Its depth and substance will far exceed the most intricate/flashy ‘performances’. Therefore, "if kata is kumite, it is truly beautiful”, and will be appreciated by those who understand true karate.
© André Bertel, Japan (2009).