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What Are You Hitting?

For each movement in a kata, you might ask yourself, "What am I hitting?" Are you hitting something, or twisting something, or pulling something? Whatever it might be, you must be doing something to something. Kata are not simply movements in the air.

The above statements might seem obvious, but I have often asked Karate students what they are doing, only to find out that they have no idea! Of course, new students wouldn't know what they are doing. That is something that they still have to learn. But more advanced students and instructors would be expected to know what they are doing.

And at an advanced level, a student might know many applications for a single technique.

Once a student has an idea of what he is hitting (or twisting, pulling, etc.), then he will have a better idea of how he could do it -- what part of his hand or foot will be used, will the power be delivered sharply, gradually, in a twisting manner, etc.?

In order to know how you are supposed to do something, you have to know what it is you are supposed to be doing. If a movement can be both a strike and a throw, the student might explore how the movement would be done for each type of application. Sometimes they might be done the same, or they might be very different.

Usually kata are always done the same, but with very advanced instructors, you might see some variations depending on what they are visualizing.

I watched one instructor perform a kata in which he took an extra step forward before punching. Later, he explained, "he moved." The attacker in his mind was out of position, so he had to take an extra step. Or perhaps he was just pulling my leg.

When someone shows me an application, I usually say, "Yes, it could be that." I think there are many possibilities -- some more usable and practical than others. But it is our job as students to wonder what everything means. Our Sensei are not supposed to tell or show us everything. That would be too easy!

The next time you perform a kata, you might ask yourself what you are hitting (throwing, twisting, controlling, blocking, parrying, slipping, breaking, pulling, poking, raking, pressing, gouging, stomping, punching, kicking, sweeping, kneeing, butting, checking, elbowing, etc.) for each movement.


Charles C. Goodin