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Laughing At Kata

At our dojo, we tend to laugh when we make a mistake during kata. Sometimes I laugh when I see a student -- particularly an advanced student -- make a mistake.

This may seem rude or improper (if you come from a very strict dojo), but it tells you something about our dojo's view about kata. Karate are devices that help us to learn body mechanics. Kata are the encapsulation of various self-defense techniques. They are not sacred. They are not magic. They are tools.

It is important to train seriously. But an error on kata is pretty trivial. If a student does a movement wrong (blocks low rather than blocks high), I will ask, "how well did he block?" If the mechanics were good, then that is good. If the mechanics were bad, then that is bad. The movement itself does not matter very much at all. When an attack comes, you have to be able to respond instinctively to changing circumstances. You will not respond with a kata.

One of our students recently went off to the mainland for college. We always laughed when she made a mistake because she hardly ever made any mistakes. So when she did, it was reason to celebrate!


Charles C. Goodin