Thursday, January 8, 2009

It's Personal

Kata is a very personal practice. For years I believed that it should remain the same. Remain a sttic practice. We strived to keep the kata looking the same way as when we learned it. But time is the best of teachers (youtube helps a little too).

I remember back in the 1970's, there was a karateka who went to tournaments who had MS. He would go out and do the most amazing kata demonstrations. Mind you, he had little use of his feet and legs, and had to walk with two crutches. I never remember anyone saying that his kata did not look like everyone else's. Why? The answer is that it was the strength and, more importantly, the spirit he brought to the floor. His martial art belonged to him. He wore it like a friendly coat. It was not contrived. Nor did it seen to be made up so he had something to do that resembled martial arts. He was karateka. He was beautiful.

Kata is a very personal relationship that you have with ourself. Whether you do a hard or soft style of martial arts, it is the study of the nuances of kata that round out your development. It is the study of the origin and root of kata that give it meaning. The myriad of bunkai (application) for kata all depend on how you interpret the kata. Kata is a dance one has with one's self. It is "dancing like no one is watching."

Live in the moment that kata reveals to you. Live in the kata. Dance like your life depended on it. Someday it just may.

"I come to you with only Karate, Empty Hands. I have no weapons, but should I be forced to defend myself, my principles, or my honor, should it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong, here are my weapons, Karate, my Empty Hands."


Michele said...

What a great memory. I am sure his kata was wonderful to watch.

I agree that kata is personal. In the dojo, we emphasize the importance of keeping kata the same. It was not until after I reached black belt that I felt kata change into something more.

John Lyons-Sensei Universal Goju Karate School said...

It isn't until you rech the rank of black belt that you have mastered the basics well enough to understand that your journey have toward enlightenment just started. It's the whole "moving meditation" thing.

Greenwood Jiu Jitsu said...

What you say here is what i try and teach my students. The mechanical science of the marital art, the part that is a truth remains a constant, but then you have to take it and make it your own, this is the artistic expression of art. Both are just as important.

I like the story about the guy with MS doing the kata. I will use this story sometime in class.