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Just One Movement

I recently observed a friend of mine perform a kata. Afterwards I commented that I thought she did very well.

She replied that she was embarrassed because she had left out one of the movements. At her level, this was a major error.

I replied that missing a movement or even a sequence of movements does not matter, particularly at her level. What matters, to me, is how the person generates and transfers power, how they move from one position to the next, how they shift their weight, how they protect their sechusen (center line), their focus, and their composure (among other factors).

You can get a very good idea of a person's level of skill by observing just one movement, assuming that they are performing the movement honestly and not concealing their true motion. The value of kata is not in specific movements or sequences but in giving us the opportunity to move in a variety of ways and to refine our skills.

It is for this reason that I emphasize kata in my dojo. I would rather have the class perform many kata than spend a great deal of time on stationary basics. Stationary basics are good for beginners, but advanced students do better by practicing kata, by learning how to move.

Remember that your skill can be evaluated by just one movement. So do it well -- and be aware of who is watching.


Charles C. Goodin