Kata are formal exercises comprising of a fixed sequence of basic self defence and attacking techniques designed for practice, and takes the form of imaginary fighting against several attackers approaching from different directions.
Each movement has a specific meaning and each sequence embodies the concentrated experience of numerous karate masters. The more comprehensive and advanced katas incorporate quick changes of technique, maintenance of balance, stretching, correct breathing, body shifting, combinations of hand and foot techniques and instantaneous tensing and relaxing of the muscles to facilitate the application and withdrawal of power.
To acquire control and exactness of technique the beginner will perform their kata relatively slowly. As the training progresses one will build up as much speed and power as possible, while maintaining excellent technique will completely lose themselves in the kata’s movements.
Because of the restrictions placed upon the karate-ka during the practice of jyu kumite, it is only in kata practice that such a total self expression can be achieved, and such practice is therefore invaluable to the achievement of high standards and a higher understanding of the benifits of extensive kata practice.
All kata commence with a defensive move, although this is invariably followed by an attack. In some instances the defensive and attacking moves are identical. During the practice of kata you must look in the direction of your movements as if to “see the enemy”. It is worth remembering that the practice of karate and kobudo kata are also a means of observing and preserving ancient traditions.
Finally kata becomes a test against the self to strive for perfection, a perfection that the masters maintain is humanly impossible to attain, yet in striving for that perfection practitioners enhance their character by continually giving their personal best. With a mind set of ‘ Always one more ‘ one gets to understand the meaning of perserverance through kata practice.