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Ugly Kata

One of the compliments a sensei might give to his student is that the student's kata looks "ugly." A new student might be offended, but oldtimers know that this is a real compliment. It means that the student has developed so much power that the form of the kata sort of bends.

In contrast, it is something of an insult to say that a kata is "pretty," "nice", "neat," "precise", etc. This means that the student is still coloring within the lines. His power is contained by the kata.

When you see a truly ugly kata performed, you think to yourself, "I do not want to be in front of that fist." It gives you a shrinking feeling.

Please don't get me wrong. When I say "ugly" kata, I do not mean one that is poorly performed, incorrect, or sloppy. An ugly kata is technically correct. It is just that you can tell that the gun is loaded.


Charles C. Goodin