Thursday, March 10, 2016

Finding Strategy in Kata

As I practice it, kata is a collection of principles. These principles are largely concerned with generating force to do work in an efficient manner. In the most simple terms, it's teaching you how to move to achieve a goal. The goal generally being to keep yourself safe from harm by ending a conflict, which is not just pounding the crap out of someone but also escape. If you exit the conflict, you also end the conflict, physically at least. These principles however usually have a common theme. This theme usually pops up in different incarnations, but the result is generally the same. This is the strategy.

I'm going to give a sport example. Ronda Rousey is super awesome at arm bars, and she's super awesome at hip throws. They are her strengths. They work together to achieve the goal of winning the fight. She can slam someone with a hip throw and while they're dazed she can put them in the arm bar. An effective strategy for her would be movements that exploit these two strengths. Getting close, distraction, softening blows, etc. If she were to create a kata, it would most likely involve different ways to exploit these two strengths. It would have a theme. It would be a group of tactics that work toward her larger strategy.

The common theme that I see in my flavor of Seisan is the explosive use of linear body movement and unbalancing an opponent through what could be called opposing action to knock them down. There are other things that can be gleaned, but most if not all of the movements I practice have the potential to just drop someone on their butt. There are other types of movements or "techniques" that can be gleaned from the kata, but to me these are the major themes. All the movements either help me do this, or help me get in a position to do this. This is of course just my opinion.

In short if you find the theme, you can find the strategy. You'll find the themes by studying how the kata moves you to deliver energy and what that kinetic energy has the potential to do. It's sometimes better to figure out what the moves are not good for.

This is just how I've tried to analyze it, and what I've found useful to me.