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Pinan Yondan - Part 3

Kate are an excellent way to learn important aspects of Karate. However, the very structure of kata is also a major problem. Kata are prearranged sequences of movements. Students learn and repeat the sequences over and over -- literally for decades. It can become like saying a prayer at dinner -- if you say the same prayer over and over there is a danger that you are only repeating the words without the meaning. The same thing can happen with kata. Kata can lose their spontaneity.

Self defense is all about spontaneity. How will you react to an unexpected attack? Will you respond by starting a kata? I don't think so.

Kata are good for learning Karate but can be bad for self defense.

Therefore, as you prepare to perform the first movement of Pinan Yondan, you should think about how the self defense techniques that it encapsulates would work. What are you defending against? How are you defending? What are you doing?

And most importantly, you need to be able to perform the technique as a reaction rather than a prearranged sequence. It has to become like touching a hot stove -- you don't stop to think about it before you pull your hand away. It is just a natural and spontaneous reaction.

When you perform a kata, it should not look like you are are thinking: "this is movement 1, this is movement 2, next comes movement 3." Instead, it should look like suddenly there is movement 1, movement 2 erupts, movement 3! It does not look prearranged or intended.

The first movement of Pinan Yondan should almost look like a body twitch.


Charles C. Goodin