Guest Columnists - Kata within a Kata

The performance of a Kata can be ‘different’ from one person to another. Each one of us has slightly different timing, body structures, and personalities that that are often reflected in the way we conduct our performance.

After many years we do ‘personalise’ our Kata, to certain degrees, but we should never violate the fundamental principles contained within.

When we learn to drive a car we are taught the basic methods of changing gear (returning our hands to the steering wheel after each gear-change), steering (hands in the correct position, 10 to 2, 20 to 4, etc.). Mirror, signal, manoeuvre, etc. After these basic driving rules have been ‘mastered’, and the driving-test has been successfully passed, we tend to drive the way we want to and adapt and adopt various personal driving habits (although, especially in my case, some bad). When we come to teach others how to drive, do we teach them our ‘modified’ way of driving? No, we have to go back to the basics and teach from scratch.

I feel that this is the same (or should be) as Kata (and not just limited to Kata, but in all aspects of our Wado). We teach the fundamental principles in Kihon-waza, so these are encouraged within our Kata - moving from one technique to another in much the same way. After many years of training within the Kata, we tend to infuse our ‘personality’ into the Kata, but, unlike driving a car, we should identify and not include any bad habits or shortcuts.

Our personality comes from within the Kata, thus making this our own ‘Kata within the Kata’.

Every practitioner of a Kata may look identical, but upon closer inward inspection this is not so. We are not attempting to be ‘clones’ of the personalities of those who teach us the Kata, we are, and must preserve, ourselves. We have adopted our own personal mechanics and personality within it.

Don’t let you become the Kata, but let the Kata become you.

Gary E Swift, 8th Dan.
Chief Instructor to the British Wadokai Karate-do. British Wadokai

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