Thursday, May 11, 2017


The Purpose of this Book

This is not a bunkai book. It is not filled with lists of techniques, possible scenarios for use of kata, strategy or tactics even though there is a little of the latter. It is not about the outward expressions of kata that we see demonstrated every day. The almost infinite expressions of movement that people have attributed to be the meaning of kata. This book is about the fundamental essence and quality of kata. It is about putting into words in a concrete and usable manner how we can use kata as a tool for physical violence, how we can transcend the idea of technique lists and use the kata for what it was intended for, as a system. A system that is so simple and easy that with a little bit of understanding and a whole lot of training, but less than most we can use any kata we choose as the foundation for a fighting system that we can use so naturally and intuitively that we can use it as comfortably as using our birth language to speak to a friend. A way of looking at karate kata in a way that will not hamper instinct, reaction, or application through complicated scenario based learning where we match a specific technique to a specific reactionary stimulus. A way for us to use kata for the real world.

It's through this book that I hope people will gain a better understanding of their karate kata, and provide a vehicle and a guide for learning and practicing karate all on ones own.

Studying a single kata is about ingraining a mental cognitive process as much as it is about practicing martial movement. Practicing the kata, studying and understanding its component parts and how it's applied is an internal process that cannot be replicated with empty repetition or scripted drills. I cannot give you understanding. I can only point you in the right direction and help you to analyze and attend to each subsequent part and piece of a single kata practice. It involves an intense focus on the self. Each person and kata are different, so it is ultimately up to you. there is no cookie cutter set of tips and tricks. what follows will be the aspects of each level, thought exercises and different ways to practice and train, but this does not mean you should limit your practice and study to this book, it is a starting point. This book will be broken up by level of complexity. Each part takes thought and focus and knowing doesn't mean it is internalized below the conscious level. You must attend to each part and diligently think, explore and experiment until even the cognitive process becomes unconscious. No part is mutually exclusive or can be separated from the whole. It is all connected so all should be looked at as a whole and individually. Each component checked, rechecked and checked again until it becomes natural and easy. Read the entire book then go back and explore your practice with the ideas from each section. Feel free to skip around, but each subsequent part is only as strong as the preceding part like links of a chain. It‘s only as strong as the weakest link. Be patient, practice and play.

If you are trying to pick out a definitive list of techniques based on specific scenarios than it will take you an infinity of time to unlock a kata. Regardless of what a kata was, we only have what a kata is today. It is better to learn a kata's mechanics and how we can apply them to technique, tactics, and strategy. we need to let our study effect our kata as much as kata effects our study.

Movement to strategy and strategy to movement is not a one way street. Each effects the other.

You will change as you learn, so it is important to go back and reevaluate all aspects of your kata as you squire new knowledge and information.

the Harder Road

The path of a single kata starts narrow, but opens up into the infinity of possibility. It is the harder path, but the more rewarding path. It doesn't foster discipline, confidence, fortitude, or deep thought. It requires them. If you need a detailed map or set of instructions like putting together a new appliance you will fail. If you need to be constantly, motivated by the carrot and the stick than you will fail. If you require the outward signs of martil prowess, or the perception of prowess through rank, belts and costumes than you will fail. It will only give you as much as you put in and no amount of mindless drilling, borrowed bunkai, or tricky techniques will lead you to understanding. Po unlock the full potential of a single kata requires mental energy, careful self study and creative yet methodical practice. You will go from confusion, to knowing to understanding to simply being. A kata will not merely be a routine of purposeless movement, it will be a permanent part of you. It will seep deep down inside and you will not oe able to tell where one begins and the other ends. You will transcend thought, you will transcend technique, you will transcend kata.

Solo kata practice starts in the mind and ends in the mind. ihe abstract nature of kata practice requires thought, deep thought and attention to detail. Lhese are rental nechanics, which cannot be directly observable by the spectator. No amount of scripted drilling, repetition or kata practice will have any value if there is not a willingness to think and study the movements. lhis is not the study of other people's bunkai, ideas or theories. It is not what you'll read in books. lhis is a close observation of what you are doing, how you are doing it and its: meaning in regards to functionality and utility. It is a mental process of check, check and recheck. Not just of the aesthetic outer viewing of kata, but the internal understanding of movement. we have been moving our entire lives and have learned not to attend to our natural productive movements, these movements are closely linked in principle to a katads set of movements. We must learn to attend to what we have learned not to attend to. we must do this during every practice studying, observing and giving attention to every detail until the processes start to creep back to below the conscious level. They are however still cognitive functions, but we need to be able to draw our mental energy towards other endeavors, so we can flow, respond and act naturally in the face of adversity.

The Structure of this book

the order of this book will be as followed. I will first attend to the fallacy of using technique training for the single kata practice. I will describe the context of how it is practiced and how it should be approached. I will describe a variety of analytical tools, cognitive traps and rules to follow when thinking about and applying each part of the hate. I will then attend to each layer that must be tackled for full cognitive understanding, and offer ideas for how to practice each and tie them back into one another.

It is my intention that you should read through the entire book once and then use each section of the book and the suggested resources at the end as a beginning reference for your internal quest of karate, because it is internal. The external trappings of body and technique are the mere reflection of your dedicated practice, not the rewards. the rewards go much deeper.

After these rules, layers and tools have been thoroughly internalized than you can throw the book away or lend it to a friend. 

The typical karate class is made up of kata and prearranged sparring. You come to class and practice kata, you go home and practice kata, you go to class and practice kata. You might get to a higher rank, which allows you to practice more kata. When you started going to the dojo, you probably didn't really care about the belts. You wanted to learn something. You wanted to engage in the cultural tradition of a foreign land. They tell you that the techniques hidden inside of kata are practical, yet they remain somewhat mysterious. But, you don't know any better so you practice kata, you practice kata, people are promoted with you who suck. You practice kata. After about five years, all you've done is memorize the kata that they've handed out piecemeal to you over the years. Gichen Funakoshi said that it takes 3 to 5 years to master a single kata, which sounds about right, considering you learn to talk in about three years, and you were just a baby and talking is complicated. You never seem to get to those practical applications. Five years is not a long time. Three years is even shorter. Compare that to the lifetime it takes to master what is now called modern karatedo. Why spend a lifetime only scratching the surface of a dozen or more kata, when you can dive deep into the belly of a single kata. Dedicating your time to a single kata to the point where the movements are just ingraned into your being. There is no kata anymore. It's just you. Kata is merely the template, the spring board to which we use as the brush to make a single kata a martial art. Practice does not make the martial an art. It is the creative application of the martial, which makes it art.

One kata does not require a dojo, it doesn't require a lot of space, it requires no membership fees, it requires no set schedule, it does not require that you be reduced to the least common denominator in the class. It does not require you to be satisfied with the least crappy martial arts establishment in your town. It can go as far as you can take it, and it can never be taken away from you, because it's just knowledge. Kata is a weapon that can't be confiscated.

Practicing one kata opens up the practice of karate to anyone who can memorize a kata off the internet. If you can memorize a traditional Okinawan kata, than you can practice karate whenever, wherever you want. Memorizing kata is not the point of karate. Once you have the pattern of a single kata memorized you can spend the rest of your life studying it. Imagine how good you will be if you dedicate the same amount of time to one kata, which you not split between 19?