Kata – is a Japanese word that describes detailed choreographed patterns or movements often practised in solo.
Up until the 1930’s, Karate katas were the only way karate was taught. Kata was one person’s way of memorizing certain fighting sequences without the use of a partner, and to remember techniques that had a high rate of success when used in combat. Putting these movements into an organized drill that could be practiced regularly meant that they could not only be remembered more easily, but could also be taught to others.
In Goju-ryu katas, all the elements of correct karate practice and secrets are stored within each and every Kata. These predetermined patterns represent a battle with multiple imaginary opponents approaching from different directions. The kata’s utilize attacking and defensive techniques to a certain speed and timing whilst maintaining the correct breathing and heart rate. Goju-Ryu kata’s can be traced back to China and Okinawa in the 1600’s.
The Go “Hard” and ju “soft” aspects of Goju-ryu as well as proper breathing is particularly taught through these predetermined forms we call kata’s. With proper breathing and knowing when to be hard and when to be soft enables a Goju-ryu student to conserve strength and rejuvenate at will.
The practice of kata teaches our students to link the mind and body. This form of meditation developes a student intellectually and spiritually. The physical benefits of kata include improved coordination, balance, speed, focus, muscular control and strength.
The most dedicated and highly trained practitioners develop what is called mushin no shin, a Zen expression meaning “mind of no mind”. (i.e. a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything). Mushin no shin is achieved when a person feels no anger, fear or ego during combat. There is an absence of discursive thought and judgment, so the person is totally free to act and react towards an opponent without hesitation. At this point, a person relies not on what they think should be the next move, but what is felt intuitively.