Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why Kata?

People will argue the value of kata till they are blue in the face. Most often Kata is maligned because of peoples assumptions about it's lack of efficacy in combat. I would encourage them to consider Maslows hierarchy of needs. The base of Maslow's pyramid is security and safety. Without that being established in a persons life if is very difficult to progress through the natural stages of personal development. Still it is at the bottom. At the top of the pyramid humans aspire to meaning ad purpose. It would be foolish and a waste of energy to expend more energy and time than was necessary to meet a need and even more wasteful to continue on focus on a practice that meets a need that is already met.

I think it is safe to say that the compelling reasons to continue the practice of kata and bunkai supersede it's efficacy. As an art form kata rescues the beauty of combat from the chaos of brutality and war. The value of a system and an art form is multileveled. The practice of an art or system based on combat allow for both the recording, recognition and recovery from the experience of violence that happens to us and also the violence and conflict that originates in us.

Kata is so much more that people generally assume. It is a puzzle. It is a Practice in paradox. It is a forge to strengthen us. It is a mirror that reflects who we really are. It is the the practice of fighting which is the most "Alive". Alive because as Matt Thornton would say it is about his art "It Is a form of Yoga. "Alive" because you are facing off against the most deceptive and subtle of opponents, your self. It is a complex physical and mental task that provides challenges for us on many levels as part of a lifelong learning process. It grounds us within a particular martial history and a community of people dedicated to the well being of each others minds, bodies and spirits. It is in fact, “the way one behaves”.

So, if a person is choosing a method of self defense it is essential that the person understand which "self" they are intending to defend.


Franck Barfety said...

Thanks for this insightful post.

Randomness said...

Thanks for posting this.

In my mind, kata is the most fascinating subject in the martial arts. Using a sequential pattern of movements to record a system of techniques has its advantages over simply writing down descriptions of how techniques are done. Especially back in the days when most the commonly practiced forms were made. It was a time when literacy was far less common among people.