In the beginning…

The difficulty in kata analysis and interpretation is knowing what the original intention of the movements was. It’s been a long time since the originator stepped out and actually formulated them. So everything is based on past knowledge and experience. As part of my analysis I use balance, leverage, body mechanics and movement, to gain better insight into the concepts the kata is providing. As much as the kata is technique, it is the provision of concepts that make them useable in more than place.

In many kata you will see repetitions of movements and techniques, the repeating of movements and techniques across form offers the performer to associate this move/technique in different situations, enhancing the meaning and showing that given the right situation essentially the same move can be used. Another aspect that is often repeated, usually in a sequence of movements in a kata is the right, left, right, repetition of the same set of moves. This would indicate that it will work as well on either side of the body, depending on you’re preference and the position of the opponent. Its clear that concepts play an important role in kata.

From here I’ll be discussing either the actual technique or movement, or the stylised version we see in our modern versions of the kata. I say stylised because I fell over time some of the meaning has been embellished to make the action fit with the pattern. The fact that some of the kata have been altered to fit into room or hall may have changed some moves, but I think we can safely assume that original intent is there.

In the beginning of any kata there is a set of formalised moves set by the style to indicate that this is the beginning or the preparation of the kata. Depending on the style these differ slightly but I think there is a similarity in the process.

The preparation move at the beginning of many kata. I see having a number of clear meanings.

the move where the hand come together and up to face height and then rotate down to your waist.

I feel this a fairly stylised movement.

– The first half may represent the body flinch reflex and the recovery of this

РAn attack come toward your face, either a punch or grab, your flinch reflex brings the hands towards the head to protect your face.

The second part of this movement may have a number of options 3 I’ve listed here

– the rotating of the hands to the lower position then represents the pushing of the opponents body to gauge distance and to have the opponents hands move into a position to perform the next techniques in the kata.

– the alternative for the hands rotating from a high position to a low position is representative of your hands having moved behind their head (after the flinch reflex) and the rotation and push is a disruptive technique, to take the opponents balance and stance from them to give you the opportunity to escape, or regroup.

– your hands at the top of the movement slip over your opponents head and your thumbs find position in the eyes of the opponent. As the movement starts down the thumbs push in a gouge the eyes as you tilt the head forward and incapacitate your opponent.

Why is there an escape here and not a complete finish, again the overriding thought and belief with kata is to provide a way to protect yourself. The most primary way to achieve this is to create distance… Distance for escape or distance to regroup.

…pictures or video to come.

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