Our approach to kata interpretation treats kata as a subject for continual investigation. We look at ways to make each move effective.
That investigation looks at how we can optimize our own body posture,
How we can optimize the dynamics of our own body as we change position and project power,
How we understand what our opponent is doing or trying to do to attack us,
How we understand our response in repositioning, defense and counter,
How we understand the new opportunity for follow up that comes from our response,
How we understand any vulnerabilities that our response may create, and how to eliminate or minimize them.
This takes experience in kumite, because it is not possible to realistically imagine the opponent’s intention under the high speed of combative exchange without experience of it. And because there are so many possibilities in every move of every kata.
Once we are clear on the opponent’s intention as implicit in the kata sequence, we can interpret what the kata is recommending.
This investigation will take into account the preceding move and the subsequent move seeking insight into how the permutation we are investigating arose, and how it transforms as a result of our action.
Sometimes this shows a longer sequence of combative interaction, sometimes it suggests that the movements in the kata do not represent an ongoing sequence, but short bursts which finish, to be followed by a new attack and counter.
As the process continues, as we explore the kata again and again over time, with practice, in unison movement and in partner practice, knowledge opens up to us, from our own experience in training.
We move more efficiently. We sense new opportunities and vulnerabilities that we could not see before, as we test and challenge each other and our own knowledge and skill.
Learning speed, focus and power is part of it.
Learning body structure, targets, and dynamics is another.
Learning striking, seizing, throwing, and how to counter all of those effectively, is another.
All the while, each time we train, not by rote but with combative purpose and an investigative mindset, we get faster and stronger, more confident in our skill, more able to use the tools in the kata, and to use the skills we get as we cultivate our body and mind, to take the initiative and prevail.
Without changing the moves shown in the kata, our kata remain under investigation. This process does not end.
It is an ongoing dimension of training.
You can read more about our approach to kata interpretation and the results of our work in True Karate Dō the new book by Jeffrey Brooks.
Post and photos Copyright © 2021-2023by Jeffrey Brooks, instructor, Yamabayashi Ryu, Mountain Karate, Saluda, NC