An Oyata Te
What is kata?
Kata is simply a chain of techniques that were put together many many years ago. Many martial arts do not utilize kata in their training, particularly the heavily sport dependant styles. We do rely on kata as a large part of our training.
What does it do for me?
Kata does several things for you.
How many kata are there?
There are 14 open hand kata, and over 50 weapons kata.
Why are there so many different versions of each kata?
When ones begin learning kata, an instructor will teach them based on their abilities. All white belts are not created equal. Some have prior martial experience, dance experience, or other things that give them coordination or other skills that help them. When teaching a brand new student that is slightly uncoordinated, we will teach what we call a basic SKELETON of the kata. This is a framework. It is in what I would consider the rawest form. As the student becomes more coordinated, we tweak the kata up a level. Some people call this basic. I prefer to call it TRADITIONAL. The kata in it's traditional, closest to original form. As the student continues to progress, other nuances are added. Your kata continues to grow as you grow in skill, coordination, knowledge, et cetra. Some would call this higher level, advanced kata. Taika perfers the term Technical Application. Taika states that some words don't translate well from Japanese to English. When he first came to America, his meaning was improperly translated as "Advanced". The TECHNICAL APPLICATION version is not the true original kata. In Taika's Technical Application he has added extra moves to make certain techniques work better. He has added extra pieces of the puzzle to one kata from another.
Essentially, kata were made dilleberatly vague by the makers. During the years when these kata were originaly made, the world was a little unstable and violent. Different smaller kingdoms were constantly fighting and different kingdoms/families had formed and developed their kata to train their soldiers. They didn't want their good techniques leaking out to the competition so things were somewhat hidden in the kata. You developed your basic motions with the kata and through continued training with kata as well as tutelage. Taika states that the kata are not in a sequence, each kata is not representative of one fight or battle. There are many techniques crammed into this one exercise. He likens each part of a kata as an alphabet. When you study all the kata you learn the entire alphabet, much like you did as a child. After knowing the alphabet, you begin to learn how to spell words. Later sentances. Then paragraphs. This is a gradual process. By placing different parts of different kata together you make techniques. They are not sequential, much like words are not sequential in the alphabet.
Where did they come from?
The kata came from several different places, some known, some unknown. Below are the list of 14 kata within this system. When Taika was training with Uhugushiku no Tan Mei and Wakinaguri no Tan Mei, he also went and studied with Nakamura, Shigeru of Okinawan Kenpo. During this time he picked up the first 12 traditional kata listed below. The origin of all except the Pinan kata are not completly known. These are all old kata and many theories and speculation about their origin abound. It is mostly excepted that all these came from Chinese sources hundreds of years prior to our adoption. The Pinan kata were pieces of other kata, simplified and seperated out into five kata for school children to learn. Wakinaguri no Tan Mei also imparted the two Shi Ho kata which were Wakinaguri's family kata.
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