Thursday 13 October 2022

Karate Kata: Funakoshi Sensei's Direct Teachings

 I recently found a text by senior students of Funakoshi Gichin Sensei, in Japanese (from ‘Karatedo Essentials’), which I thought was well worth translating into English. It is a concise piece about KARATE KATA, which is said to reflect Funakoshi Sensei's direct teachings.  – André Bertel

“Kata has been handed down since ancient times as a practice method that allows anyone to repeat and perfect the essential movements of the body for self-defense, even when one is without a training partner.


The various kata are said to have originated from what our predecessors left behind and tried to pass down to the next generation; namely, training forms which result in the ability to protect one’s own life in self-defense, when one’s life is at stake; that is, to control an attacker in an actual conflict.


Our predecessors compiled the main points of the movement that can control the opponent as a form. To more specifically expand on this point, as you master the movements contained in the kata you will naturally learn how to use your body in the most optimum and instantaneous manner.


As you practice kata over and over again your body becomes softer and your actions become stronger. In addition to this, the pursuit of thoughts, required by each movement, leads to the discovery of the deeper techniques of Karate-Do.


There is no difference in the process and results of kata practice between those of our predecessors and those of today.


The established kata of the SHOTOKAN are as follows: Taikyoku (unique to the Shotokan), Heian, Tekki, Bassai, Kanku, Jutte, Hangetsu, Enpi, Gankaku and Jion.”


 Later on, in the text it is worth mentioning that there is also great emphasis on the ‘landing of the feet’ when moving in kihon and kata; in particular, making no sound and being both swift and adaptive/elusive. Also as stated in my translation above, much focus was on fluid power, relaxation and swiftness of the limbs to maximize impact power. If nothing else, my hope is that this post has brought you the reader closer to Funakoshi Sensei's direct teachings. I, for one, found it both fascinating and educational as a Shotokan practitioner. I'll wrap up on that note today. OSU!

© André Bertel. Oita City, Japan (2022).

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