Karate Thoughts Blog

Contents   /   Email  /   Atom  /   RSS  /  

1700+ Posts... and Counting

More On Tournament Kata

This is a follow up on my last post, Tournament Kata.

My point in that post was that it appears that at least some people, when they perform kata at a tournament, do not appear to understand the meanings/applications of the techniques they are doing.

I am following up to make two additional points.

First, it is natural that beginners will not understand the meanings/applications of the techniques, at least not when compared to intermediate or advanced students, or to instructors. It should be expected that as a student advances, his understanding will increase.

Should it be expected? Really?

Far too often, I see cases where as soon as a student learns a kata well enough to perform it (just do the movements), he is taught another kata! Instead of working on the first kata -- its body dynamics and meanings/applications -- the student is already learning another one. Somehow, the body dynamics and meanings/applications are just never taught.

In my opinion, there is no value at all in just learning kata. One kata is not really higher than another. If you can do one kata well, you can probably do other kata just as well, once you learn them. Hey, a good punch is a good punch and a good kick is a good kick. The opposite is also true. A bad technique is a bad technique, even if it done during an "advanced" kata.

Of course, the learning process is ongoing. A student will be learning kata, body dynamics, and meanings/applications all the time. And things he learns in Passai, for example, will also apply to earlier kata that he has learned. It is a cumulative process.

My second point is this. I really think that some people do kata for performance only. I think that some people do not know what the techniques of the kata mean, and they do not want to know. Perform for performance only.

The problem with this is that performance separated from meaning/application can easily lead to distortions. Movements can be exaggerated, punctuated, and dramatized in ways that have nothing at all to do with the actual meanings/applications. Movements can be sped up or slowed down for visual effect, rather than for practical application. And don't even get me going about snapping the gi and stomping the floor for sound effects!

The meanings/applications are a necessary reality check. In order to know how to move, you should understand what you are doing. And this process will continue as you advance in Karate, until you become fluent in the kata. See: Content Rich Expression of Karate.

Trophies and medals are nice but skill and knowledge are priceless. (Also, as a father of four children -- now all adults -- I have had to deal with trophies. Where do you put them all? I just taught my children that trophies were meaningless. At least the house was neater.)

My trophies are the accomplishments of my students.


Charles C. Goodin