Shotokan Kata

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 Below is a list of the Shotokan kata and their meanings:

Shotokan Kata

Heian Shodan – (peaceful mind, first level)Heian Nidan – (peaceful mind, second level)Heian Sandan – (peaceful mind, third level)Heian Yondan – (peaceful mind, fourth level)Heian Godan – (peaceful mind, fifth level)

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Why Do We Spend Time On Forms When They Don’t Seem Real?

By Trevor Dicks

Do We Spend Too Much Time Practising Forms?

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A Brief History of Kata

A Brief History of Kata

If you are interested in the effective and realistic use of the combative methods recorded within kata, it is important that you have some understanding of their history. Without an understanding of this history, you will be unable to appreciate kata in the correct context. You will therefore have little chance of unlocking the methods they contain. Kata has always been an integral part of karate practice. To understand the history and development of kata, it is vital to look at the history and development of karate as a whole.

The recording of information through physical movement is an ancient practise. Even today, many cultures use ‘dances’ and sequences of physical movements to tell stories and to pass on their cultural heritage to the next generation. There can be little doubt that groups would also wish to pass on the fighting and hunting techniques they had refined and found to be most successful. When an individual learned the fighting and hunting skills of the group, they would be asked to copy the movements of those who were more experienced. The elders would demonstrate the various movements, and the younger members of the group would try to emulate these movements. These skills would eventually be further refined and then passed onto subsequent generations. It is in this way that the first “kata” will have been created.

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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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Kata Combat – Bunkai Training Drills Part 1

I state in ‘Practical Applications for the Kata Jion’ that Kata were originally intended to capture the ‘highlights’ of an effective combative system. The distillate of this system survived over generations as it had an inherent aid memoir that enabled the practitioner to communicate it to his incumbent generation. As a result of the balance needed between reliance on memory and the need to maintain the principles of Kata, an optimal and not limitless number of movements exist.

We expect Kata therefore to contain everything we need to effectively train for combat, but not necessarily laid out in an order that is immediately usable. We should however, acknowledge that the Kata exist as a suite of techniques bound by a strong theme of principles, and that to effectively use these techniques, we need to extract their highlights and entrench them in the kata.

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