“Look and Feel” Part 2

“Look and Feel” in Karate Training – Part 2

Kata (Forms)

As noted in my July 2005 article, techniques and movements can be improved by watching and also by “feeling” the position or movement. In kata, the ideas of looking and feeling can be practiced at yet another level.

In the past few years, it seems as though discussions and arguments have been heating up regarding the way kata is practiced. Should it be a technical study of movement – primarily an exhibition of physical fitness – or should we study the applications in depth. This issue of form vs. function has been a source of debate with some great points on each side.

In most karate tests and tournaments, kata performace is judged only on form, which involves proper execution of techniques, timing, displays of intensity and more. There are many people whose primary emphasis in their daily kata practice is form with no regard for function. There are others who scoff at the traditional form, claiming that a disregard for application (function) is pointless. But often these people also just work on the outward appearance of application and couldn’t actually apply some of these methods and tactics in a realistic encounter (self-defense). Making some intentional contact with a partner and receiving physical and verbal feedback in such practice is very valuable. Thus “feeling” in kata application practice can be a very useful part of training.

Some people do their kata without much regard to how it looks (form) or what the applications might involve (function). Some of these people concentrate on the physical fitness aspects of the training, treating it as an exercise. Some treat it as a very personal time, whether it be as an expression of art or an outwards demonstration of personality, like a dance. For these people, they may “feel” the kata in a different way. Kata practice can make one happy or satisfied with oneself.

Joggers refer to a “runner’s high” and many athletes talk about being “in the zone” when they are not only performing well outwardly but also feeling good about their performance inwardly. During individual kata practice, in addition to physical fitness, self-defence and other possible benefits, some people just “feel good doing it” and need nothing more.

The feelings that are experienced during kata practice are worth exploring as part of one’s personal karate journey.

As you can see, the “look and feel” of kata can be explored from many angles. With this in mind, kata practice can always be interesting and and various educational opportunities are there for the taking.

What do you feel when practicing kata? Please write to me and let me know. Maybe I can add some short quotes to this article in the future…


Copyright © 2022, Jon Keeling (originally published August 2005)