Saturday, 8 March 2014

Kata - Don't Peel The Onion!

One of the most common ideas attached to modern kata interpretation is the idea that a kata has many layers of application and each movement many possible meanings. If this is the case it raises the question, how are solo forms to be correctly practised and performed?

If solo kata training is to have real value and benefit it should reflect the intention and physicality expressed in the applied function. This is not possible when a technique becomes an abstract movement that can be 'used' as many different things such as a strike, block, lock, throw etc. For example striking and locking are very different skills requiring the body to work in very different ways, if a practitioner has several striking applications and several locks for a single technique in a kata how can the solo movement genuinely express them all? Would it be a reasonable idea for a professional boxer to try to use their punching repertoire as a basis for a series of locking techniques and then try to express both simultaneously in their solo training? would there be any real benefit to this?

Another way of exploring the validity of the multi-purpose interpretation approach is to try to create a kata that contains many applications for each movement. How are strikes, locks, chokes, throws etc to be combined into movements that have honest expression in a solo kata? It is impractical and simply unnecessary to force fit different types of techniques into a few movements, the final product becomes a separate thing in itself with little value in practical training.

The antique forms each have an underlying function which is the relationship between the techniques and reason for synthesising them in a kata in the first place. Each technique has a single applied function, as the practitioner accumulates experience in the actual application, the intention and physical expression in the solo form develop an honesty that gives value to the practise of kata. The solo form should be a direct expression of the function and as close as a practitioner can get in execution to their actual experience.

Please contact us with any comments, questions or most importantly for training please email Tom Maxwell at, thanks for reading!!!

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