Rochford Shotokan Training : Kata - set movements

Kata is the execution of techniques in a set sequence, with emphasis on the correct form developed in Kihon.Each Kata takes great practice to learn and improve, and at higher levels, the study of Bunkai (or application) enables the sequence to be applied to real life situations.

Kata combine basic karate techniques -- blocking, punching, striking, and kicking -- into a series of predetermined movements. It combines offensive and defensive techniques, proper body movement, and changes in direction.

The kata demonstrate how to dispose of numerous attackers from at least four directions. Although they do not involve visible opponents, serious study of the kata teaches the art of self defence and the ability to calmly and efficiently deal with dangerous situations. For these reasons, the kata have been the core of karate training since ancient times.

According to Sensei Nakayama, there are five characteristics of kata:

1) For each kata, there are a fixed number of movements. (The basic Heian kata have 20 to 27 movements; advanced kata can have over 60.)
One must perform the movements in the correct order.

2) One must begin and end the kata at the same point on the floor. Each kata has its own 'shape' -- depending on the kata, the karateka may move along a straight line, or a 'T'- or 'I'-shaped formation.

3) There are kata that all karateka must learn, and kata that are optional.
The former consist of the five Heian kata and three Tekki kata. (Today, Tekki 2 and Tekki 3 are usually optional.) The optional kata are Bassai-dai (although most brown belts practice this for their black belt exam) and Bassai-sho , Kanku-dai and Kanku-sho, Empi, Hangetsu, Jitte, Gankaku, Jion. Other kata include Meikyo, Chinte, Nijushiho, Gojushiho-dai and Gojushiho-sho, Hyakuhachiho, Sanchin, Tensho, Unsu, Sochin, Seienchin, Ji'in, and Wankan.

4) There are three aspects to performing a dynamic kata:

- correct use of power
- correct speed of movement, be it fast or slow
- expansion and contraction of the body The kata's beauty, power, and rhythm depend on these aspects.

5) One bows at the beginning and end of the kata. Bowing is part of the kata, too.

Click for more information on kata names
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