Are Kata and Forms Bi-lateral?

acupuncture-chartLately I have been involved in some discussion on why kata (forms) do not appear to be bi-lateral. If you stop and think for a moment you will notice in kata you will find techniques performed only on one side of the body, or in sets of three. There are any number of techniques that are to be found in threes or singular movements. Look at Pinan 1 (Heian, Pyung-ahn) you will probably find a sequence of movements where you execute a down block and while remaining in position perform a high section knife hand block. This technique is done in only one place in this kata. Looking at this same kata you will notice there are ways to turn that we do only in one direction. At the end of the “cross bar” in the “H” pattern you pivot on your right foot in a counter clockwise direction so that your body turns in a 270 degrees. Then as you return back along the “cross bar” you will once again make a turn in a counter clockwise direction with a pivot on the right foot. Notice that you are performing this type of turn in only one direction in this kata, nor do you make this type of a turn in any of the Pinan/Heian/Pyung-Ahn kata. This kata like many others are based on a basic “H” pattern. Even those forms that do not follow the “H” pattern you are likely to find a series of three movements. Or you will find single movements in a form, many times this movement is performed only on the right side.

The apparent right side bias has always been a source of interest to me. Over the years I have heard a number of explanations of this bias. Some say “most people are right handed, therefore we practice more with our right side”. This never rang true to me, I am of the opinion if we have a weak side we should practice that side a bit more in an attempt to make both sides equal. Then there is the argument there are more vital points on the left side of the body of your attacker. Therefore, by using your right side attacks you will have the potential of attacking more vital points. While this may have some merit, a look at any acupuncture chart will show the points on the body are bi-lateral. Yes, there may be a couple of extra points on the left side of the body which are deadly but in the overall picture this logic seems flawed.

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Bunkai - Karate's forgotten 95%

By Iain Abernethy

Practically all karateka include kata practice as part of their training. The question asked by the vast majority is, "Why?" Certainly many karate practitioners slight the practice as they feel it is a pointless exercise that does nothing to increase fighting skill; "I hate kata. I'd rather spar!" is the 'macho' boast made by many a misguided junior grade (and sadly a few senior ones).

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Key Points on Demonstrating Kata

The following are some key principles to strive for when performing kata, whether in class or in front of a large audience.  There are certainly more aspects to consider, but keeping these in mind as you practice will help you perform well whenever you are on the spot.

  1. Take your time. This is your moment to show your best form!
  2. Show every move.
  3. Relax.
  4. Show speed and power. Remember, speed is how quickly you execute each move, not how quickly you go from move to move.
  5. At the end of each move, show the tension, then relax and move on to the next move. Timing between moves should be two seconds (or 1, 1000; 2, 1000).
  6. Breathe.
  7. Don’t rush the Kata!!
  8. Keep moving. If you make a mistake, don’t start over - finish the kata!
  9. Show courtesy

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