What Is Kata?
Kata are sequences of predetermined fighting actions that help the student understand the body movements required to be able to correctly perform a technique or series of techniques. Kata is not designed to be a fighting system in it's own right, but practice for the real thing.
There are many types of Kata, and Kata is very common throughout the Martial Arts. Kata are sometimes referred to as "Patterns" or "Forms".
Kata is rather like the training that a boxer does, for instance, to perfect the power and delivery of a punch. By practicing a particular punch, at first slowly, and then faster to full speed and repeating the action over and over, the boxer gets the benefit of "muscle memory" i.e. the ability to carry out a sequence of movements without conscious thought. Although this sounds very complex, it can be explained simply through the act of walking. When a child first learns to walk, there are all sorts of complex actions to be performed, the movement of the leg, placement of the foot, transfer of the weight, and the act of balancing whilst all of these movements are performed - with much concentration. Once the child has repeated the action of walking many times, the need for the concentration is diminished to the point where the act of walking is not even considered, simply carried out, this is due to muscle memory. Think of adults who have suffered trauma and have to learn to walk again - it takes time for the muscle memory to be relearned. Another analogy might be driving the car; when first learning to drive, there is so much to think about and do, steer, indicate, change gear, brake, look into the mirrors, etc., within a short while it is a simple matter to drive the car (the driving action become automatic) and the driver can concentrate on anticipating the road conditions, instead of concentrating on steering the car in the right direction.
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