From Academic Kids

Japanese Name
Kanji 型 or 形
Hiragana かた
Missing image

Kobudo kata with staff

Kata (型) (literally: "form") is a Japanese word describing detailed patterns of defense-and-attack movements practiced either solo or in pairs. Kata are used by most traditional Japanese and Okinawan martial arts, such as Aikido, Iaido, Jodo, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, Kendo and Karate. Other arts such as Tae Kwon Do and T'ai Chi Ch'uan feature the same kind of training, but use the respective Korean and Chinese words instead.

The actual type and frequency of kata training varies from art to art. In Iaido, solo kata using the Japanese sword katana comprises almost all of the training, whereas in Judo, kata training is de-emphasized and usually only high-ranking practitioners train in classical two-person kata. Kenjutsu kata are paired sword drills. However, the most popular image associated with kata is that of a karate practitioner performing a series of punches and kicks in the air.

Many martial arts use kata for public demonstrations and in competitions, awarding points for such aspects of technique as style, balance, timing, and verisimilitude (appearance of being real).

Kata in Karate

The Karate practitioner performing kata executes a specified series of approximately 20 to 70 moves, generally with stepping and turning, while attempting to maintain perfect form. The number of moves in a kata may be referred to in the name of the kata, eg. Gojushiho, which means "54 steps." The number of moves may also have links with Buddhist spirituality. The number 108 is significant in Buddhism, and kata with 54, 36, or 27 moves (factors of 108) are common. The practitioner is generally counselled to visualize the enemy attacks, and his or her responses, as actually occurring.

In teaching the open handed kata, most styles of Karate start with a series of five basic kata named Pinan in some systems and Heian in others. By working through this series (in order: Shodan, Nidan, Sandan, Yondan, Godan) the practitioner learns all the basic stances and techniques before moving on to more advanced kata. Traditionally, kata are taught in stages. Previously learned kata are returned to in order to show more advanced techniques or ways of doing things, as beginners don't have the same knowledge and experience that practioners further up the ranks have. It is not uncommon in some styles for students testing for Shodan (first rank black belt) to have to repeat every kata they've learned from the first belt, but at a "black belt" level, i.e. with better technique, power, etc. This system is often used for the lower grades as well. The student will perform one new kata and one or two previous ones, to demonstrate how much they have progressed and how quickly they can learn new things.

Criticism of kata training

Critics of kata argue that kata produce stereotyped responses, making unexpected moves by opponents more dangerous. They claim that kata teaches the student very little, since it is mostly a matter of 'monkey see - monkey do' instead of the actual mastery of techniques. Martial arts is a livelihood for many teachers. Since many, or even most, people do not have the skills to become an accomplished martial artist, failure might turn them away from martial arts, thus threatening the income of the teacher. Critics of kata claim that kata gives the teacher a chance to give students the impression that they have really learned something, while all they have learned is to mimic the teacher's moves. The object of these teachers, critics argue, is not to teach the students something useful, but to make them continue their lessons (and pay the teacher's fees). Critics also make the same point about the (coloured) belt system, claiming it is more about giving the student a sense of accomplishment so that they will continue to follow lessons than indicating actual skill; however, defenders of the belt system point out that it is just as important (for teaching reasons) as having different grades in school, and any arrogance, etc., about belt grades is a failure to teach students the more spiritual aspects of karate, such as humility and self-control.

Defenders of kata practice say that it is akin to the practice of meditation and that performing these ritualized moves again and again means that they can be performed without thinking, exactly the sort of ability you may need in a genuine self-defense situation. Kata, then, is a form of 'moving meditation,' giving the martial artist the unthinking muscle-memory upon which to draw in the heat of battle, where the time spent having to think about what to do next may mean the difference between victory and defeat. Kata practice may also provide the more traditional benefits of meditation: increased focus, awareness and self-discipline. Also, as kata are solo battles, they enable various techniques and concepts to be practiced for actual use in fights. The Goju-Ryu kata of Saifa, for example, aims to teach the student correct movement of hips to generate power in short spaces or when grabbed, and thus incorporates techniques that can only work if you use your hips correctly.

See also

Kata is also a direction of the fourth spatial dimension, the counterpart of ana. This usage comes from the Greek word meaning 'down'[1] (http://tetraspace.alkaline.org/glossary.htm). The ana-kata vector is an equivalent of the three-dimensional vectors (forward-backward, left-right and up-down), but trying to describe it in 3d is like describing up in terms of left and right.

Kata is also an Israeli company manufacturing photo equipment protection cases and millitary items.de:Kata fi:Kata fr:Kata it:Karate Kata he:קאטה hu:Kata (sport) nl:Kata pl:Kata sv:Kata


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