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Kata "Files"

Please bear with me on this one.

If you view them a certain way, kata are like files -- packets of information, in this case, movements. There are many ways to view files. Think about the way you view them on your computer (I use a Windows based system).

First, you could view the files as a simple list of names. These names could be alphabetized or organized other ways (most recently edited, by file type, etc.). The simple list of names would not give much information, just as the simple names of the movements that make up a kata do not convey much information either.

You could next view the files with accompanying information about each file. You would see the file name, the size of the file, when it was last modified, and information about the file type. In kata, this would be like seeing the basic information about each movement, not just the name.

If you turned on the "thumbnail" feature, you could see a small image of each file. If the file is a photo, you would see a small version (called a thumbnail) that would help you to readily identify the file. These would be like the photos you see in a book of the movements of a kata. Additionally, if you were to click on the photo, it would enlarge to its maximum size, limited by your screen size.

If you have activated the "Filmstrip" feature, you would see the thumbnails of the files aligned across the bottom of your screen. If you place your cursor over a thumbnail, a larger image with appear above it. If you double click the thumbnail, the image would enlarge to its maximum size, limited by your screen size. You could also zoom into parts of the image (enlarge it).

The photo type features would also work with video files, so that you could open videos by clicking on them.

How does this relate to kata? You mind is much like a computer operating system. Just as a computer operating system must organize information of all types, you must organize and deal with the information contained in kata.

At the simplest level, a kata is just a sequence of movements. If you know each movement, it is a simple matter to string them together in a certain order. But this does not tell you much about each movement. You need additional information.

What type of movement is it? Is it a block, a strike, a stepping or sliding movement, etc.? What is the movement -- and why are you doing it?

A movement is a sequence. When you see a photo or photos of a kata in a book, you are only seeing a very few frames of the overall movement. Thumbnails of each movement are just like a cover of a book. What takes place between the covers is what counts, not just the beginning and the end.

For some people, simple images of the movements is about all they know. But if you could zoom into each movement, activate a video of each movement, click on it to see more information about it, its variations, the multiple levels of interpretation, the defenses to it, the counters to the defenses, etc. then you would be practicing Karate through kata.

Imagine thumbnails that would each activate a discourse on a movement -- a summary of everything the Sensei in your style have taught on that particular movement. Now that would be something!

Where is this fantastic operating system? -- in your own mind of course! You program and expand the system through years and years of practice. Practice is the feedback that allows you to process more and more information about each movement and kata as a whole.

Each kata is broken down into its individual files. Each kata is separated into its own folder. All in your mind.

Click, click, click!

I know that it sounds a bit far fetched (or possibly not so to some of you). But I have, and perhaps you have, seen Sensei teaching a kata and explaining a certain movement, then pausing for a second or two as he reviews the entire system of kata to draw a parallel to a movement in the same or a different kata. You can almost hear his hard drive (mind) buzzing.

In a split second it is as if the Sensei is seeing all the movements in all the kata all at once. And the greater his ability (skill and experience) the more information he can summon for each movement or all movements instantly.

It is not possible to do this if you view the movements of a kata as a simple list of names. You need access to much greater information about each movement, which comes by longterm diligent practice.

One last thought. I spend a lot of time working with images for the Hawaii Karate Museum. The resolution of an image means a lot. A small image with high resolution can be enlarged. But a small image with low resolution, will just look like a bunch of boxes if you enlarge it too much. With images, we use dpi, or dots per square inch. I believe that the normal resolution for the internet is 72 dpi. Most images you see online are saved at that resolution.

But it is possible to scan an image at much higher resolution, for example, at 1200 dpi.

If you put two postage stamp sized images online, one at 72 dpi and the other at 1200 dpi, they would look pretty much the same on a standard monitor. The 1200 dpi image would be much larger (in terms of megabytes), but the images would look alike until you zoomed in on them.

As soon as you zoomed into the 72 dpi image, it would pixelate (be boxy). But you could zoom way into the 1200 dpi image. There is much more to the image, more resolution and information.

Is your kata made up of 72 dpi movements or 1200 dpi movements? How much resolution do you have?

Some Karate Sensei seem to have nearly infinite resolution. What a goal for us Karate students!

Part of improving our Karate is working on the operating system (and software).


Charles C. Goodin