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Picking A Kata

This is a funny thing sort of and something that is not spoken about much. If I am asked to participate in a demonstration, the kata I will decide to perform depends on who else is performing kata. If a Karate instructor who is senior to me is also performing kata, I will generally not select an advanced kata. As a courtesy to my senior, I will generally perform a basic kata, such as one of the Naihanchi or Pinan kata.

Of course, these are excellent kata and in my "style," the Naihanchi kata are simultaneously the most basic and the most advanced kata. But in most systems, they are considered (incorrectly in my opinion) to be kata for beginners.

But let's say that my senior (even if in another style) performs Gojushiho. If I then peform Kusanku or Chinto, it might appear that I think that I am senior to him (in that I have selected a kata that could be considered to be more advanced). There could be hurt feelings. So it is much safer for me to perform a more basic kata.

There is an exception to this. If my senior (even if in another style) has asked me to perform a specific kata, then I will generally do so. If someone asks, I should be able to perform any kata in my system at any time. I should not have to rehearse something I should be expected to already know (hopefully reasonably well).

But then, if my seniors are present, I will hold back and not go all out when I perform a kata, whatever kata that might be.

This is like performing a kata in a group. My movements will always be a split second behind my seniors. I will never move first or end first. My movements will be barely perceptible shadows of my senior's movements. Again, I do not limit this to my style. A senior is a senior.

But wait, it gets even more interesting. If my senior performs first and makes a mistake, I might make an error too -- just to join the club.

In any event, I would never perform a kata "all out" in public because there is little reason to do so. How I perform a kata depends on what I am trying to get across. And in any situation, one thing I am always trying to get across is courtesy and respect.


Charles C. Goodin