Monday, 21 July 2014

Ask More of Kata

Many creative interpreters of kata enjoy the luxury of never being 'wrong', anyone can make up an application to a kata movement and in the world of anything goes bunkai it will be accepted as another alternative and in some cases added to the collections of bunkai enthusiasts. Bunkai ideas are often driven by personal tastes, for example one teacher may be a grappling enthusiast or a pressure point junkie and their applications will often reflect this. By dismissing the possibility of discovering the original function, context and usage of an antique form creative interpreters are absolved from ever facing any real criticism and having to explain the rationale, sequence, technical repertoire etc of a kata. No one ever treads on anyone's toes and there is room for everyone to present their stuff, as is the case in many popular Karate forums. The fact remains that if creative interpretation and making up applications is the chosen way of approaching kata then there has to be some justification for taking that position and reasons given as to why the original function which gave birth to the movements and form are not explored.

Many practitioners will not even begin to attempt to seek out the original meaning of kata because they have been told that it is not possible or lost forever. Thankfully this sort of attitude did not effect those who unlocked the Rosetta stone or those currently decoding the Voynich manuscript. Instead of reducing all kata to reactive self defence or bits of a fight dressed up as 'flow drills' that have very little to do with the chaos of a violent encounter, I would like to invite those with a passion for kata to take another look and see if it is possible to unlock the original functions and see what is actually achievable with only the technical repertoire of a form like Chinto or Passai etc. Is there an underlying theme? a context for use? an intended environment for usage? what is the relationship between each technique and movement? is the sequence significant?

There is great diversity in the content of the antique forms which suggests many functions, contexts and ideas and once unlocked can only add to the rich history and heritage of Karate. Please contact us with any comments, questions or most importantly for training please email Tom Maxwell at, thanks for reading!!!