Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Kata is very much like a stone, which we cut and polish, until it becomes a beautiful jewel. The jewel however is only the outward and superficial representation of the skill, which produced it. What is important is the skill we learn along the way, not the rock.

Beginning and End

There is a dichotomy in the practice of a single kata in that it can represent both the beginning and the end of training, the purpose and the goal. Karate is for physical violence, a set of brutally efficient body mechanics for defense of one's person. Building this skill is the purpose of training, but it does not mean it will be used in this fashion. The best case scenario is you'll never have to defend yourself in a serious conflict. What we are then left with is practice, and it is a continual practice without destination. The thought of mastery is an absurd notion. Not because we cannot master kata, but because doing so is a meaningless goal. It is like mastering how to breath. Will you stop breathing because you have mastered it? Kata is a continual process of study, practice and refinement of skill. It is the beginning and the end.

To paraphrase Taisen Deshimaru:

For how many years must one practice kata?
Until you die.

What is Movement?

Movement is not the wiggling of our toe, or the minute details of how you hold your fingers. Movements are the larger pattern sequences of the kata, which are either divided into repetitive sets, or divided into longer chained sequences. For example, Naihanchi is a chained sequence. Movements are demonstrated in reference to how they relate to each other, but not themselves. My own kata Seisan has repetitive sets, which demonstrates how a movement relates to itself, but not the other movements. A movement is not the complete set, but the individual pattern of motion, which is repeated. From here on out, when I use the word movement, this is what I mean.


The movements in kata are our foundation. They will comprise the very basis for everything that will come after. The kata is our primer for physical conflict. Each movement is not a technique, it is a means to apply a technique. They represent how to efficiently produce kinetic energy using body mechanics. It is an expression of human capability. This gives us a greater tool than just specific technique. It gives us the fundamental basics for fighting without the need for memorizing specific scenario based techniques, variations, or specific responses of the opponent. It allows a way to make fighting as quick, intuitive and instinctual as speaking or writing. Remember writing is an effective and efficient means for delivering ideas and it all comes from 26 letters. Because of this we need a very firm and intimate knowledge of our kata. How familiar we are with it will effect our ability to apply kata, learn new techniques, internalize principles, and all other aspects of our practice.

Learn to Move

In a very simple sense, we are merely learning how to move when we practice kata. In the beginning, we conform ourselves to the kata. The kata is this thing. Awkward shapes and steps. Strange seemingly convoluted limb movements and confusion. It feels as if we are shaping the kata, perfecting the kata, but we are not, we are shaping ourselves. We tell our body and brain this is important by giving our full attention to the process. Our muscles and tendons adapt to the movement and our brain encodes the pattern. We practice the kata to ingrain the kata, but after a certain point we are no longer practicing a form, we are practicing something else. The kata is at first a script, then a model for action, and finally merely movement.

The first step in study is to become as familiar with your kata as possible. This means practicing outside the pattern of performance. Life does not happen according to a script. The kata is not a script. It is linear only because time moves forward. One movement must come after the other. Application will not follow this pattern. The pattern is only a means for transmission. Only practicing the pattern of kata will mean you only know the kata as a fixed list. You must move beyond this to build the required fundamental skills.

Recognition and speed of transition between movements are the key skills that need to be developed to successfully apply the movements. This is not speed of limb, but speed of cognition. Knowing the position of your body and what weapons you can immediately use from that position is the goal. This means knowing each movement and how to transition between any of the movements, fast, efficiently and without mental effort. It also means becoming continually aware of your entire body. It's very easy to recognize how adjacent sections relate to one another, but it's much harder to perceive how one movement at the beginning of the kata can relate to a movement at the end of a kata. The brief span of time between the two movements acts as a barrier to studying their relationship. Too much happens in between for our mind to make the connection. Studying the kata in this manner makes us aware of how different movements can work together or in conjunction with each other to the benefit of the whole. Intimate knowledge of each movement will also be crucial in recognizing possible applications later on in our study.

This means practice. Weapon arts teach a person to become familiar with their tools. The weapon must be a part of themselves. In the unarmed fighting arts, our body is our weapon, built from kata. We move every day. We use our body casually for the mundane and the stressful alike, and we have learned not to attend to it. We must relearn how to attend to it. Learning to become familiar with our kata means learning to become familiar with ourselves.


What follows is a guideline for your kata practice. We have spoken about why it is important, but this is how you go about practicing to get results. It is not fixed or concrete, and one is allowed to be creative and add any exercise or practice that they feel is beneficial.

Kata is Yes or No

The meaning of a movement is abstract. It does not exist in physical form. It is an idea. A principle for application. The movements on the other hand are concrete. They are not conceptual, and they are either known or they are not. The ability to apply the movements in the kata rests firmly on the ability to execute any kata movement in any order at will without conscious thought. The body mechanics must be the most fiercely absorbed aspect of your karate. This is something you can do, or you cannot do. Kind of, sort of, when no one is looking, know the kata is not acceptable. It is about as useful as kind of, sort of, when no one is looking, knowing the alphabet. It is the same principle. If you do not know the movements down to your bones than the rest of the process will be a confusing guessing game, which you will not win. Luckily, the practice of one kata gives us a limited number of highly versatile and functional actions, which we can concentrate on.

The Pattern

Learning the initial pattern sequence of the kata is one of the only things you will do by rote memorization. The rest of this book promotes active, associative and meaningful learning. One cannot study a kata if they don't at least know the pattern of a kata. It will be boring. This cannot really be avoided. There's not much fun in trying to memorize convoluted and confusing limb movements, which are coordinated with parts of the body you didn't realize could move together. One must be diligent and practice. Once you have become comfortable with the pattern and can perform it on command, without pausing to think about what will come next, the real practice begins.

Slow is Smooth, Smooth is Fast

During the initial practice and beyond, it is important to go slow. As slow as you can without tensing or losing your balance. You must stay relaxed and move slowly coordinating action with breath. Breath normally and move to the rhythm of your respirations. You will speed up in time as you become more comfortable with your karate and speed can have pitfalls. Speed makes you sloppy, makes it hard to pay attention and gives a false sense of strength. We want to move correctly and moving correctly means moving deliberately. Become aware of how your feet, knees, hips, torso, shoulders, arms and hands work together and work in concert to facilitate a movement. Focus on each tiny aspect of a movement at a time and strive for slow steady perfection. The more work we spend on this portion the better we will know our kata, the better we will know ourselves. Like any learned skill, we will eventually not need to think about the moves, we will just move.


The goal at this level is to become as comfortable and acquainted with all the movements in all their configurations as possible. The pattern by itself is mostly worthless. This is not exercise where one can mindlessly churn out push ups and see results. It is having confidence in your body and attention to detail. Any type of practice that isn't destructive to yourself or others that helps you toward this goal is good practice. Be creative. Practice needs to be fun. If it isn't fun, you won't do it. Every master of anything has been a master because they enjoyed the activity. It was fun.

Practice the kata in as many places as you can. In your kitchen, in your bathroom, in your hallway, outside, on hills, on uneven terrain, in the dark. This will change your stances, but the function of stances is not always in their exact depth or width. There is room for adaptability.

Practice your kata stationary. Shifting your weight back and forth changing your orientation with each movement can allow you to do this. Practice it in zigzags, or while negotiating furniture.

It is important that we know each movement outside of the pattern of the kata. Time must be taken during each practice session to spend a little time honing each movement. When we practice a kata in its entirety we only spend a few moments performing each movement and then we are onto the next and our attention shifts. This is not enough time to really know a movement. We keep our attention to detail, and our slow, smooth, steady movement, but the repetition will allow us to disassociate from the process a little bit if we concentrate. This will allow us to focus on the larger mechanics of the movement as we become comfortable with the finer details. The larger mechanics are more important. Where our weight is going, where our center of gravity is during any moment, how to shift slightly as we move over uneven ground or terrain and how our body works together.


Learning to shift between each movement at will is something else we must practice. It can help to pick two or three movements to link, which are not adjacent to each other in the pattern. It may not follow the same lines of performance as the kata, but we will need to learn to move with the winds of change and adapt. We will move how we need to move, so we must learn how each movement can feed into the another. Practice moving between two movements. Keep the same pace. Go slow, stay smooth, pay attention. Do not reset, prepare or get ready. You must know how to move immediately and efficiently from one movement to the other. Practice how you can achieve this.


You may notice that basics or kihon is not included. This is because with the practice of a single kata they are not needed. There can be benefit in practicing the individual stances in a static fashion to increase your comfort with them, but this is of limited value. Application involves movement, continually shifting from one position of strength to another and this doesn't involve taking a stance and sitting in it for an extended period of time. Your stances will get better as you practice the kata.


Studying the kata is really about playing with the kata. One needs to experiment with it creatively and discover.

Spontaneous Movement

Fighting is about making decisions. Some of these should be below the conscious level and others should not. How you need to move should be below the conscious level. Knowing how to do this still takes active thought in the beginning, but it needs to be quick and get quicker with time. Pick a movement to work on and then transition to another when it seems appropriate then switch back to the first then switch to another, and keep moving. Change direction, change orientation and move freely through each part of the kata at random and repeat portions at random. Transition to the first movement that pops into your head. Move as quickly as feels natural, but don't get sloppy. Your actions must be deliberate if not precise. Music can help. This seems to be taboo in the traditional karate world, and it can be distracting, but it can also be distracting just enough to keep you from thinking about what's for dinner, work, or what's on television and keep you focused on practice.

Imaginary Fighting

We've not gone over any type of application, technique, tactics or strategy, but you should take a little bit of time out during each practice session to fight an imaginary opponent. You are close enough to hug, chest to chest. You can smell what they had for lunch and you need to take them out. Move like a whirlwind. Your arms, legs, feet and hands are swords, lasers, hammers, destroying anything they touch. Don't worry about precision, don't worry about perfection, don't worry about strict adherence to the movements. Move, fight, play. What you do and how you think of fighting, application and technique will probably be wrong, very wrong, but this is okay. This is to work the cognitive part of your brain that will apply the kata. Similar to inventive spelling in elementary school. Sure, the words are spelled wrong, but that's not the point. The point is to start drawing your attention to the movements and what they might be able to do. Put yourself in bad situations where you are losing. Fight your way out, escape. Have fun.

Note on safety

Practice should have a positive influence on your life. Too many times have I seen or heard someone brag of their intense and harsh training only to see another person lament the destruction of their body through same said training. Practice should never be detrimental to your health. There's not much point trying to learn a martial art if you're going to destroy your body on your own. Keep in mind that many training practices of the traditional martial arts were created when we did not have as much intimate and detailed knowledge of human anatomy and physiology. Shortened life expectancy may have also hidden any crippling effects of harsh training. People may just not have lived long enough to see the harmful consequences. Train diligently, but be safe, smart and cautious.


Kata practice becomes a zen exercise before it becomes a vehicle for fighting skill. It is a side effect of training. Kata is meant to ingrain in you and then preserve the fundamental mechanics of a fighting art. If it were strictly for Zen, we could as easily practice zazen, or seated meditation and save ourselves the sweating. It however has the same flavor as zazen, because it is a simple repetitive act, which requires our full and undivided attention. This starts when we learn the pattern and continues on through practice. Seated meditation is merely giving your full attention to your breathing and your posture. With kata, we must give our full attention to it in the same way from the first practice to the last practice. Posture, movement, breathing, flow and balance. The kata is the moon eternal casting its reflection on the water of a river. We, in the present practicing, are the reflection on the water. The water, time, slipping by moment by moment. Different water, different time, different understanding, but the kata remains the same.


Ease of recognition and transition between movements is the goal of early training. We must recognize a movement by feel as well as sight, and we must know how to move freely between all parts of the kata. This is our foundation, but all parts of the process are important. They are not exclusive from one another. They must be studied independently and together, because each level effects all the other levels.

Listening to Your Body

For lack of a better word, you will be listening to your body. Listening to what the pattern is trying to tell you and what you're listening for is direction of energy and how your hands, arms, torso, hips, knees, ankles and feet are moving with your center of gravity. It's helpful to sometimes just work on one section over and over again instead of practicing the entire kata. Listening to music will also help. Music helps us disassociate, which in this case can be helpful if the music isn't too distracting. It just needs to be a little distracting. Try and get into a rhythm and feel the ebb and flow of the complimentary movements. Exaggerate the movements, or make them smaller. Change the speed, change the tempo, make the rhythm staccato, make it smooth. The more you understand how you move in each pattern and position the better. It's important to start playing around with the movements at this point. Dull endless repetition is only what we do at the start to build those neural pathways. Music helps. Dance, move and play with the movements. Once you start feeling where your momentum is going you can start trying to add some power into your movements. Keep in mind power is not just fast hand movements that make your gi snap. It's your whole body working together creating a net force of acceleration, mass and rotation to facilitate applying energy. You'll know the feeling when your whole body starts moving together. Like riding a bike, you'll know the feeling. Keep searching for it.

Sweet Spots

“A bike chain can be 90 percent broken and still 70 percent work.” Rivendell Bikes.

Kata demonstrates optimal body mechanics and structure,. Optimal is not always what we get, but optimal is not always what we need to get the job done. We just need good enough, so it's important to find the outer limites of where stances, structure, hand movements and foot movements start to breakdown. How crappy can the stance get before it starts to have the opposite effect. Part of doing this is having a way to test structure. A wall generally works, poles are better, or columns. Anything that you can securely lean all of your body weight on withut it breaking. It's important that your bone alignmnet takes the brunt of the force if not all of your wieight. You test your structure by leaning on the wall or column while in your stances using your striking surfaces, as the means of contact. Feet, knees, shines, hips, forearms, elbows, knuckles and palms. Anything that you can touch on an opponent with when their close enough to kiss. If you find your muscles doing all the work than, it's not the right plane of use. It should feel as stable and comfortable as leaning on a wall or column while n your stances and using your striking surfaces, as the means of contact. Feet, knees, shines, hips, forearms, elbows, knuckles, and palms. Anything that you can touch an oponent with when their close enough to kill. Try every conceivable angle and variation you can think of. Doing it wong will tell you more than doing it right. These are all the hand and feet, or posture positions in the kata and not just then ending positions. What's important is what you do while your're moving.

The movement is not the ending position. We want to know what the entire movement is capable of doing. Have patience, practice and play. The more you learn, the more you discover the better it will be, the better you will be able to apply your kata movements.

Free Flow

This is practicing your kata in a free form and creative way. Link different parts of the kata, try and flow from one movement or section to another without resetting or repositioning your feet. Efficiency is key and you need to know how to seamlessly flow from different positions, while keeping structural integrity. Don't think about what you'll be doing next, Just do what seems natural. Play with the movements. You won't be applying the kata in order, so learn how to go freely from different sections, repeat sections and switch. Don't move in straight lines, don't keep to the performance lines of the kata. Move and learn to adapt freely and move with the energy. PLAY.

Some general tips

Stances are usually a big clue to how energy can be applied and for some reason they are over complicated by the karate community when most of us do these things naturally. Front stance turns our hip over by straightening our back leg, which is now braced against the ground. In essence making our stance a triangle and like a triangle is good at directing force into the ground and distributing the load. It also acts as a handy platform for launching ourselves forward by pulling and then pushing with the front foot. Sumo stance is good for dropping our weight straight down as well as accepting force due to the shock absorbing qualities of the knees. Lauching ourselves forward and down from front stance to sumo stance allows us a very controlled and powerful means of making contact with our upper and lower body at the same time witout over commiting our balance. From sumo stance we can apply torque and rotational energy by turning into front stance for strikes, pushes or even body checks. Cat stance seems to confuse people, but how man times while moving something heavy have we popped our knee up by flexing our foot to rest it there while we readjusted our hands. It's the same thing. Lean your torso slightly forward so the back leg doesn't take all your wieight and you can use your frnt leg as a fulcrum.

Work Movements

All of these movements are used to perform work. We use most of these movements unconciously in our everyday lives. Pay attention to what you're doing and how you're doing it throughout the day. Whenever you need to move something heavy try and find a kata movment, which might help you.

choosing a Kata

As we've learned previously, kata is the fundamental essence of movement for a fighting system. Mbvament can easily be extrapolated and adapted to changing conditions and revision of techniques,

so don't worry too much about, which kata you choose. If you

are already a practicing karateka than just choose your favorite

kata, and try and forget everything 1 anyone has told you about it. If you are new to karate and wish to learn on your own

than i would suggest that you choose one of the simpler foundational kata like Naihanchi or Seisan. It doesn't really

matter, which version you choose, because there is no true version of any of them. All kata are the same in that they are movement. fhe variations in Rate by the same name are as significant as people's varying hand writing. People add, take away or have modified these kata over the years to suit themselves and otha‘s, so don't get too hung up about trying to find the "correct" version. fhere ise ssentially no such thing. Exacting form only really matters for caligraphy, and we’re not practicing caligraphy. I would suggest that you try and get the kata from

an Okinawan source, but they are all good or can all be good. Complexity ixxnnx does not mean that the kata has more possibility for techniques nor is more advanced. The criteria should be

that you like it, can physically perform it and that it won't

be damaging to your joints or body. Information is basically

free on the internet in this day andtige, so use it as a

resource fori'inding a Rate. Bhe library can also be a good source, or ask a friend. Just find a kata, and to be on the

safe side choose a kata that is in more than one style and

karate school. Don't get fooled into thinking that Sifu Dan's basic dragon style Rate is a secret ancient Okinawan fighting method. Wansu, kusanku, seisan, naihanchi, and any of the big

ones are appropriate.

these are the three essential elements in learning anything. Patience is a virtue and it's required for the preparative method or model because it will take patience and practice before it can be useful. We will not be pairing attacks to defense, nor will we be learning super secret fighting techniques. we will be learning how to be adaptive and exploitative by using or rather studying how we can apply the Rate movements in as many different ways as we possibly can. We don't interpret kata we apply it based on the demands of the situation. Move, recognize exploit. Maximize exposure to opportunities. Violent action trumps technique and luck favors the prepared will be our mottoes for study and application. The kata will be as versatile a tool as you make it. It's not magic. It's still based on handwork and unlike other models victory does start

in the dojo, but first We have to learn your primer.


We will begin practice like every little girl and boy who starts to learn and write by memorizing the pattern of the primer. Your kata. If you can't remember the pattern, you can't study it, if you can' study it you won't understand it and if you can't understand it you cannot apply it. Everything rests on knowing your kata as well as you know the alphabet, so first we start with the pattern. Just like in elementary school it is important to copy and model the Rate perfectly. Pay attention to foot alignment, width of stances, the path of arm movement, posture, and shifts of weight. Move slowly. Completely forget about any ideas of trying to put any power into any of the movements.

This will come in time. what you‘re doing now is building neural connections and pathways so that your body can move through the movements and adapt to their demands. Your body will adapt to wrong movements just as easily as the correct movements. They will feel weird and awkward and sometimes stupid. You will have to think about every little thing that you do. It will be

tedious, but at this point it will be essential. If you practice multiple kata I would suggest they you only practice the k:

other kata enough to not forget them. We will be building everything on these movements and they need to be burned so deep into

your nervous system that you can perform them without thinking about them.


The repetition wall is the point in time where you know the movements well enough that you can stop thinking about them. It could be 100 repetitions or it could be a million repetitions. This will be different for every single person, but it will

not happen over night. Our body doesn't work that way unfortunately. Each night of sleep gives our brain to rest and reorganize our main itself. It happens when it happens, so I would suggest you don't stress out too much about it. Practice when you can out be diligent. Set aside ten minutes every day to mark on it. Make a plan to practice a stance or your stances while witching television or washing dishes. If you're real secure with yourself you can do it while waiting in line at the store. Just remember to wear pants and not a skirt. When you practice, wear your

every day clothes. if you can't move in your current clothes

than buy new clothes. Practice in the shoes you wear the most

or have an extra pair in the same style. Have patience and practice, and then practice some more. Did I m mention you should practice? It will suck, it will be tedious, it will be boring,

but it will get better. Stay diligent, stay disciplined. Check your movements and stances with reference material. generally ignore everything else in those books. It will just confuse you.

We're practicing karate, not calligraphy.


Trying to use your kata movements in practice will be weird at first, awkward and clumsy. You'll have to get over the first shock of contact when practicing something new. This is why practice should start slow and soft. He will use our structure and mass, but we will go slow. Slow or fast if we apply our mass and structure we are using the exact same amount of energy as far as physics are concerned. We're just using less power. Partner training has to begin with thinking

the same way that recognizing letters and words began with thinking. It's hard to think or recognize opportunities if you're worried about getting your teeth knocked out. If you went to hit something hard than hit something that isn't living. there is no set list of how to use a movement,: so experiment and find what works for you. Adapt and change the movements during partner practice. It's the principles of movement that are important. Movement and power generation can as extrapolated easily to haiku respond to a dynamic environment. Fixed techniques and responses are not. in practice, you need to allow yourself a certain amount of license to fail. The person who has never failed and tried again has never learned. Practice and training is always for learning.

It is however important that you do your best to use the spirit of the movements. they have leeway and can be adapted with little effort, but if we start using random motion, or half seeing our practice we will never build the connects that

are required for spontaneous and creative use of movement.

we need a rock solid foundation of efficient power generating movements to connect all the different aspects of martial

arts, just like the alphabet connects all aspects of English literature. strategy, tactics and theory and big broad concepts , out infinitely specific compared to the adaptable and general use of kata movements, which make them possible. They are

all connected and built on our movements. If you don't tie them back to your kata you have nothing. You have empty specific

and unadaptable technique.

study, study, study

kata movements are essentially a set of complimentary tools. the more we know about them, the more we know their limits and strengths the better we can use them. the more we understand about physics, anatomy, physiology and even geometry the better we understand our Rate and the better we can use it. Shays Study everything, look for the connections between disciplines, study yourself and life to better understand

your kata. Po the layman an electrical outlet is magic, to the electrician it's Just wires, applied science and rules. Did

I mention study?

in this type of training, you get as much as you put in. You either spend time practicing the connections and adapt or you spend time trying to memorize answers and you stagnate. For this type of training victory is achieved in the dojo.

'The spirit to survive and the resolute intention to do so is

, one's most important weapon. when we have internalized motion, application, tactics and strategy below the level of directed thought than we are not applying kata or technique, we are moving violently and fighting with only the pure drive of spirit in our mind with nothing to distract us from our goal. this is what we are aiming for through diligent directed practice to make martial movement and the cognitive processes

that go along with it instantaneous, effortless, intuitive and instinctual.



How many years must I practice my kata? Until you die. ease

in practice kata correctly you must give yourself solely to

it. Unlike the practice of multiple kata or participation in

a traditional or conventional karate dojo there is no rank to gain, no hierarchy to ascend, in no teaching and there is no large and varied body of minute information to absorb or look forward to. There is only the kata. The practice of a single kata can constitute both the b ginning, end and ultimate goal of practice. they are one and the same. the first repetition of

a kata can be the same on the outside as the very last repetition of a kata. what is hidden is the depth of understanding, which

is too complex to be observed directly. If one never has to use the kata for defense than the practice is the end. We can not know the future. Life moves on, understanding grows and the

kata stays the same. It stays the sane and grows little by

little each part revealed, understanding grows and then it

seems to coalesce into a single entity and you are no longer practicing a kata, no longer practicing technique you are

merely acting.


hishiryo state of thought u thout thinking or consciousness beyond Qiought. If you think this is impossible and you are reading this than you are wrong. The mechanics of reading

are a cognitive process performed below conscious thought.

we perceive the meaning instantaneously and effortlessly, but when we read we are actually also recognizing individual letter shapes, their sounds, how they associate with one another, how they form syllables, their syntax and contextual meaning all perforned continuously, automatically and unconsciously as we move our eyes from left to right. The same is true of kata and its understanding and application is fundamentally cognitive.

§ franqual compliance with the inevitable, pure austerity.

why do we need more than one kata? For ego, aesthetics, to show off, greed of technique, to become strong?


Remember to provide notes for efficient use of techniques and resources.


fought, internalization, understanding


Intuition and action must spring forth at the same time. the higher and lower brain functions must be able to run parrallel.


I cannot give you the answers, no one can, but I can help

direct your mind. I would tell you not to spread your attention but that's no fun, so I will say have fun, but be methodical.

Kata is a puzzle of'sorts not of definition, but of understanding I can tell an illiterate how to read, but they will not understand reading. Learning to read requires diligent thought, study and

practice until one can read anything put in front of them as easily as breathing.


Taisen "You and I are not the same. If you cannot find the

solution for your own life, you will be paralyzed, unable to move."


In karate as well as other martial arts you are not only training the body, you are training the mind. the mind is what's important, because without the cognitive portion of technique movenent is merely choreographed dance. Ehe mind directs the body, directs use, directs action whether it is conscious or unconsious.

For a movement to become unconscious you need to study it consciously. Know the movement, the intent and the context

of use, not just the pattern of motion. Study, think, examine until all or this becomes second nature.


Concentration means all out. You must give yourself totally to the process. It can not be done half way. It is yes or no. Internalized unconscious thought will happen when it happens. fhere is no fixed recipe or repetition count or list you can check off. It takes attention and practice.


Once the body is trained in concert with the mind and the m mechanics sink b low concsious direction, one doesn't fight H.th technique, but with spirit and intuition. Let go and fight.

Look for the gift, the weak. point and act on the opportunities you see, don't try and choose an act. Like zen it is to adjust and act on what is actually happening and not what you believe is happening. Read the word, don't guess the word.


Understanding a single kata is about understanding connections. rho connects between the mechanics of individual body parts and gross motor actions. lhe connection between gross motor actions and movement, the connection between movement and power, the connection betwaen kata movements, the connection between

kata movenents and function, the connection between function and application, the connection between application and

tactics and the connection between tactics and strategy. Each piece builds on the next and to misunderstand one piece is to misunderstand all of the pieces that come after.

I‘he movement is not the ending position. we want to know what the entire movement is capable of doing. Have patience, practice and play. Phe more you learn, the more you discover the better

it will be, the better you will be able to apply your kata movements.

Free fl ow

ihis is practicing your kata in a free form and creative way. Link different parts of the kata, try and flow from one movement or section to anotherwithout resetting or re positioning your feet. Efficiency is key and you need to know how to seamlyssly flow from different positions, while keeping structural integrity. Don't think about what you'll be doing next, Just do what seems natural. Play with the movements. You In won't be applying the kata in order, so learn how to go freely from different 3 ections,_repeat sections and switch. Don't move

in straight lines, don't keep to the performance lines of the kata. Move and a learn to adapt freely and move with the

energy. Play. 51mm Some general tips

stances are usually a big clue to m Hinduism how energy can be applied and for sona reason they are over complicated by the karate community when most of us do these things naturally. rront stance turns our hip over by straightening our back leg, which is nowbraced against the ground. In essence making our stance a triangle and like a triangle is good at directing force into the ground and distributing the load. human It also acts as a handy platform for launching ourselves forward by pulling and then pushing with the front foot. Sumo stance is good for dropping our weight straight down, as well as accepting force due to the shock absorbing qualities of the knees. Launching ourselves forward and down from front stance to sumo stance allows us a very controlled and powerful means of making contact with our upper and lower body at the s ame time without over commiting our balance. i'rom sumo stance we can apply torque and rotational energy by turning ma into front stance for strikes, pushes or even body checks. Cat stance seems to confuse people, but how many times while moving something heavy have we popped our knee up by flexing our foot to rest it there while we readjust our hands. It's the same thing. Lean your torso slightly forward so the back leg doesn't take an! all your weight and you can

use your front leg as a fulcrum.

Work Moveme nts

All of these movements are used to perform work. We use most

of these movements unconciously in our everyday lives. Pay attention to what you're doing and how you're d ing it throughout the day. whenever you need to move sons thing heavy try and find a kata movement, mich might help you.

Training Equipment

A body and space is all that is really required, but there are a few things that can help you get a better idea of what

you're doing and help you apply energy. We've already discussed using something to testxxkn structure. A duffle bag filled with old clothing, some old bike inner tubes and an old car tire are three other things I would suggest you track down. basically, something to lift and throw, something to hit and something to pull. These are all cheap or easily found items, which can be found for free. Bike shops have old inner tubes, people will usually happily donate old tires and an old army duffle can stand up to some abuse and is cheap. Mount the

tire d side on to a sturdy wall or tree, so the tread rests against the wall or bark at about chest height. It's the cheapest and easiest way I know of to make a mkiwara. It's notf or toughening your hands or feet, but testing your structure while practicing a committed strike with follow thrwgh. Remember we want our skeletal alignment to do the work, not

our muscles. You do not need to tense on impact. If you need

to tense to hold your position, you're doing it wrong.

Use the duffle bag to throw and toss around. Try and manipulate it with your movements, hand, feet, body all of it in as many ways as you can think. Pay attention to the times when it feels effortless, like you’re cheating, like the duffle isn't titre. I'he same with the inner tubes. 2 Secure them to something sturdy and practice pulling them. Down, up, sideways. Anyway and all ways. Pay attention to the tines when it feels like you're doing nothing, but the tubes stretch like crazy. If

you need to strain or use muscle, you're doing it wrong.

One of the folleyes of asthetic weight training is that you practice working your muscles in the most inefficient means of actually using them. Many exercies are designed to take advantage of the inefficiency of movements to put extra stress on the muscles. Most times the only place we "feel" strong is in the gym, but the real strength of kata movements is making our bodyweight and structure do the work. Don't

be fooled by the "strength" of straining muscles. Efficient movement is effortless.

fool Strengthening

It is important that we forge strong bodies in order to stack on as many advantages as we can. Strength is always an asset, but it's not essential. I‘his being said your exercises would have the duel purpose of helping you understand how to use your body more efficiently. karate is essentially a power endurence activity. we want to be able to perform a lot of work for a long tine. Standard I'd suggest skill based calisthenics, yoga or power lifting. Anything that won't teach you how to use your body wrong.


I'm almost loathe to even mention it since bunkai is usually used as a term to mean application. but it a ctually means analysis. Remember we do not interpret the kata we apply it just like we don't interpret the alphabet, we apply it.

when we take tim out to analyse our kata, we need to imagine and think of all the different ways that we may apply the movements, not so we can make a running list of techniques to pull from, but max for the purpoee that we have the. on our minds as possible options during partner practice. is need to run as many mental scenarios in our head: as we

can and try and come up with ways that we might respond to them. Run a fight in your head where you put yourself in crappy situations and try and figure a way out of them. Remember the distance is chest to the end of your elbow.

the movements are a mans for power generation, your hands arms, legs, elbows, lmees, feet and shins means of contact. Move, recognize, exploit. Maximum exposure to opportunities. ‘i'ake what you are given, violent action trumps techniqze, and luck favors the prepared. You are not predicting. You are imagining how to tear someone apart like a ferral gorrila.


i'he embusen or lines of performance mean nothixg. Movement is movement and the only meaning it has is what you can make with it. the angles in kata are also Just demonstrations of movement. i‘here is a theory that angles demonstrate the proper anglex for that technique, yet almost every technique works better from

an off angle and the body mechanics are usually wrong for that type of thinking. Sometime you need to move at 90 or #5

degrees to redirect momentum, move a body or deliver force.

it's Just a demonstration of howt e do this, nothing more. Sometimes touching yourself indicates touching the opponent, but

I've found this is usually only Xm true in certain versions

of kata and is usually very obvious, because it's somthing really weird, like touching the small of your own back while moving forward. Don't obsess over the waning of closed vs open hands.

I take the presence of a closed fist as an option for grabbing

and gouging. i‘he context will dictate striking surface ofthe

hands and the kata is not predictive.

Partner Practice

Solo practice is for perfecting movement, listening to our bodies and exploring how we might strike, gouge, look, throw, sweep, lever or strangle/4 choke someone with each of the movements. I'his has focused on the general and more specific aspects of the move portion of move, recognize, exploit.

when you have access to a training partner it is important to practice applying the recognize and exploit auxin: portions of your kata. asuell as the move. It is about adapting to your opponent and exploiting opportunities as you see them, but you have to practice seeing them, before you can successfully practice exploiting them.

I. don't like scripted partner drills. It seems to me that it removes the only useful thing about having another living breathing person there. If you want to practice compliant

drills find yourself a dummy. we want to learn to move, recognize and exploit.

Push Hands

Simply this is moving and manipulating a person while they try and do the same to you. L‘his is the simplest and most general layer of late application. Use structure, experiment with n kata patterns in a slow, soft and mindless fashion. See what happens when you just use your structure and movement without thinking about doing anything particular. You'll find that you can have a very big impact on your partner Just by doing this. Keep close, keep contact and play. Take advantage or the leverage points mentioned in the mechanics portion. Use your oodyweight. Try and find the weak points in your partner '8 stance and structure.


Be prepared and willing to fail. I'he person who fails and doesn't try again never learns. You learn far more from doing the movements at the wrong time, then using them at the 183)! right time. ihe place to fail is during practice not when you might have to use

it. Experiment and play. Each person's strength of use will be different. It's important to let your partner tail and not to

let them succeed.

Learn to move, learn to see

During partner practice growth will be made through conditi chins. Our brains our set up with different neural chemicals, which give us those highs during success and those crap feelings when we fail. Let this play out naturally. 12 sunning; Don't right or try and manufactuer this through prescribed drills. If a movement works keep using it, make your partner adapt and learn from is and learn to exploit their weakness. Encourage your partner to

do the same. Hove, recognive, exploit. the general movement. patterns of kata as you will remember are made to nxinizo

exposure to opportunities. A nudge with the trace, hip . an automatic strike uith the forearm or hand while m using
a general movement can open up an opportunity to exploit.

take advantage of these as you see them and as soon as you see them. Move, push, shove, pull. Don't think, let yourself go

and not on instinct and intuition. Thinking is for solo practice.


After you have become in: comfortable with using the kata movements in a general none specific manner can you start

trying to incorporate and exploit specific xaxhnxqulx opportunites and try to use specific types of techniques. Feeling, xxand adapting to a person's movements should start to become second nature. lou'll feel the change in pressure on your body and

move accordingly. Remember to move slow, use structure and remember to follow through on your movements. Your goal is

to use the general movements to turn your partner into a

meat puppet.

It's almost impossible to go into a free play partners ession and tell yourself that you're going to work on x today. You don't know what your partner will do and there is no way to predict what he will do, so you will not predict. You will study the required success criteria for each type of technique and practice exploiting the opportunity as you recognize them out if you don't see them just keep moving. General strikes are the easiest to incorporate and recognize though. Go slow, use structure and power through. Due to the nature of physics whether you go fast or slow you still use the sameamount of energy, just different power. Aim for vital points, but go slow. If your partner doesn't adapt keep exploiting. Move, recognize, exploit.

You can pick, which types of techniques you look for during

each practice session, Just not which specific ways you will

be able to do it. It's not important. what's important is learning to recognize and exploit the opportunities, experimenting and letting yourself fail, letting thec onditioning aspects of play

do their work. Look for the different ways to apply power.

Learn to recognize where you can't apply power and use the opposite movement. Look for the openings.

fhe aim is to train yourself and your partner to only k look

for the opportunities and exploit them. fo recognize the conncetions between all the movements in your kata. When they are strong

and when they are weak. Remember to play and have fun.

One should practice whenever they can for as long as they can, but because of the cognitive nature of practice cranking out repetition beyond when one is just first internalizing the pattern won't be neaningful practice. If you find yourself continuously drifting, checking the clock or your heart is

not in it than call it a day or change your mode of practice. study, exercise, meditate, or take a break. lhis is a continual life long practice. Preparation for physical violence,

mental exercise and moving zen all. fhere is no rush.


I don't put a time limit on my practice. Some sessions are as short as ten minutes and others extend into several hours. Improvement doesn't happen on a time table. I want to take advantage of as much of a good, clear, focused and enthusiastic mental state as I can. A single practice session after months or years of practice can make things fall into place. Improvement comes with understanding and understanding cannot be projected or scheduled, but you can constantly prepare for it.


Partner practice should not be wasted with scripted drills. rechniques can be isolated for practice, but the value of having a living human body to practice with is working against a living thinking human being. Acting on, adapting and responding. moving, recognizing opportunity and exploiting it. iechnique is easy, application is hard. If you want perfect results, practice in the air. If you want to test yourself and grow practice against a person.

Solo kata practice starts in the mind and ends in the mind. The abstract nature of kata practice requires thought. deep thought and attention to detail These are mental mechanics. which cannot be directly observed by a spectator. No amount of scripted drilling, repetition or kata practice will have any value if there is not a willingness to use your brain and study the movements. This is not the study of other people's bunkai. ideas or theories. It is not what you'll read in books. This 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 kata's set of movements. We must learn to attend to what we have learned not to attend to. We must do this during every practice. Study, observe and attention to every detail must be given until the processes start/lo 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.


A person cannot be made to think of these things. They are required meditationl. but even just following this advice without expending any mental energy would be futile. We must keep mostly to the form of the kata. but we need to create an environment for ourselves that gives us permission to experiment. think creatively and practice trial and error. if it is an act of cognition than we need to

can allow ourselves to think and play wuth kata. One of the main differences with a single kata practice and

the more conventional approach to karate is that what you are doing is your own. You make it what it will be. There is no rank structure or teacher to bow too. We are in charge of our own training. and there are so many things to explore and work on even Within a single kata, which can be as deep as we make it. It would be a shame to succumb to boredom. Practice must be engaging and fun. You should

feel free to make it this way for yourself.

(rich/2‘.“ 71mm,?' ’7’waij Attention to Detail ‘ ' K 7’ MW W’

It is not the mindless drilling that leads to understanding or even muscle memory. It's constant attention to the details and the importance of ingraining cognitive mechanics to below the conscious threshold through diligent and continued thought. which trains the brain and the body to make these procedures more efficient and less stressful. It is the none observable ingrained cognitive functions/ complex

functions, which we want to develop and foster, notjust the outer facades of performance. Context

We as humans can sometimes have trouble applying principles across contexts. Theory to practice. school to life. subject to subject. It is because of this that we need to examme each small part of the kata. Examine a movement and how it relates to all of the other movements so we can become familiar with it outside of the context of the linear pattern. A movement may have a million different contexts. but this does not change the principles of its body mechanics and its function. We are not changing the movement nor thinking of it as separate individual entities, but exploring its varied and rich utility.

Withholding Judgment

I would say that it would be better to hold off on judgment and them izing on the use ofdiffeient kata

movements until you are thoroughly familiar with the small mechanics of each movement and transitioning thoughtlessly between each sequence in any order at will, but this isjust not possible or reasonable. It will happen. so I will not make an attempt to stop you. In fact 1 will encourage it. Theorize, think, play and experiment With your kata as much as you can. The better you know the capability and complimentary nature of your kata the better it will serve you. Study other people’s theories and bunkai their thoughts. their feelings. but do not become married to or attached to any one way of thinking. Do not treat ideas as possessions. The strength of a kata's abstract nature is that as your understanding of combat. lighting. violence and nature deepens your applications of movement should also change, deepen and be relined to your expanding knowledge. Because all techniques, tactics, strategies and concepts Will be applied With a small set of highly versatile functional movements new knowledge becomes additive rather than dilutive. You will not need to learn new body mechanics for each subsequent technique. because you will know how to apply the body mechanics you have already mastered to perform the technique. l will give a warning. Your karate practice is your own. It should be personal and tailored to your individual needs and temperament and no one cares more about your own needs than you. Someone will be happy to sell you their strategy and techniques in place of your own and take your money. Thinking is part of the package. if you don't think and

explore, you will fail.

The Goals

The goal of any lighting art is to ingrain combat techniques to below the conscious level. Action and intent should spring forth without thought and one should be able to instantly and effortlessly recognize and adapt to the situation at hand and use the tactics and strategies. which best lit the environment and needs of the moment. This is sometimes called hishiryo or a state of thought Without thinking or

consciousness beyond thought. it sounds mystical and spiritual Some would say that this state is

imposyble. but they would be wrong. If you are reading this in an alphabetic script than you are employing hishiryo right now. The internal mechanics of reading. the cognitive processes. which allow us to instantly and effortlessly glean meaning from abstract squiggles called letters is performed below the conscious level. We see a word and instantly associate the lump of letters With meaning based on context. but our mind is identifying and recognising each letter of each word, associating it With the letters around it to make syllables, combining syllables and their assocmtcd sounds to form words. which are interpreted based on their context and placement within the sentence. This is done continuously. instantly and effonlessly as we read. and it is done without us actively attending to the process. We see a word and we only see the meaning The last time we thought consciously about this process was when we were first leamrng to read and write It has been burned into our brain like the erroneously named muscle memory. quietly working in the background Not only is this state of mind achievable, but we use it on a daily basis for things. which are much more complex. complicated and encompassing a broader vanety of contexts thanjust recogniztng when you can hit someone in the neck

and then using the proper body mechanics to get the job done.

In this book we Will be employing the same strategies and tactics to study. ingrain and apply our kata by working from the most basic fundamental and abstract components of kata. the movements. and building on them layer alter layer creating a lirm foundation on which we can apply technique. tactics and strategy. This takes careful practice and careful study. but it can be done. It takes as much mental energy as physical energy and this book will give you the tools to start connecting the dots and putting

everything together in a way. which will allow for continuous learning instead of route memorization.

Kata as a Foundation

The foundational movements of a kata are a yes or no question. I ike the alphabet. we either know it or

we don't. Kind of son of knowing how to move. where your body weight is going or knowing your structural integrity will not help you. It must be known, not sort of known. Without this knowledge any study in the future will become merely a confusing guessing game with no hope of winning. The movements of a kata have their greatest value when they are all understood on the mechanical level and how they can be used in conjunction with one another. 1 he movements are body mechanics and physics. If we learn of a new technique. our knowledge of our own movement makes internalizing the criteria for using this new technique as easy and natural as learning a new word. Not thousands of repetitions maybe just three and practice of use. Movements are merely the how of technique they are not a what or the techniques themselves. If we truly understand a kata, we can apply it to perform an infinity of variable techniques. This is only the first level of understanding. We want to ingrain tactics,

strategy and all other aspects to below the conscious level as Well. But first we need to work our way


When we bum these things into our mind what becomes important is spirit. The spirit to survive is our most important tool. When we have internalized motion. application, tactics and strategy than we direct our thoughts only towards completion of the goal, keeping ourselves safe and surviving. This is what we are aiming for through diligent directed practice to make martial movement and cognitive processes

that go along with it instantaneous, el’l‘onless, intuitive and instinctual.

Continued Study

1 have learned more about my own karate by reading books on Violence. physics. and anatomy and physiology than I ever have mdmg books on karate. Karate books are usually backward looking rationalizations to justify ones own practices and theories based on history shrouded in myth. They can have insights and provide platforms for reliection and study. but in my opinion are of limited value in applying one's own karate and exploring it in any sort of creative or personal way. Sometimes we want history to have a reason, but we must except that karate may have developed because of randomness, fluctuating evolution and blink luck. Our own alphabet was an accident. It may all just be happenstanee. but the past does not change or should not change our making the best use of karate how it stands now instead of blindly following in the footsteps of those who we cannot be sure of their


Partner Practice

1 wish I could give you a bunch of cool drills and exercises for you to figure out the best way for you to use your kata, but it doesn't really work like that. Any movement can be any technique under the right circumstances. Some things will work and others will not. what's really important is

to play with the movements and in a free term fashion. It’s not going to look perfect or like anything really, because every practice session will be a little different. Phere

are some general guidelines I can give, based on story Millers model for infighting.

First is a passive/ active drill one person will be actively trying to break the other person's structure and balance and the other person will be resisting passively with their structure and when their balance is broken they will pracitce moving to another stable structural stance. 60 slow. in! mixuimxgntxumpnmuxanhMIXpmsiixnxnnsmi smmmxhnnual Keep the distance mentioned in the mechanics chapter. Experiment with leverage points and using your hands to lever them off balance. Use movements from your kata. At this point we are trying to link certain groups of actions

back to your kata movements. ifxyn l‘he movements are complimentary so they can allow you to flow and transition efficiently

and effectively while you move someone. Remember the translations are more important than the movements, ihis goes for both participants. l‘he active partner is looking for the weak points in structure and balance and finding appropriate manst o exploit it without muscle. l‘he passive participant is naking their partner work for it, but is not actively resisting. When they are moved they should be paying attention to where they were strong structurally and where they were weak. Let yourself be moved out learn to transition from strong structure to strong structure. i‘he active lets the passive move, but does not break contact. Switch periodically.

One Step

"l‘his is a geometry problem in meat." It's a problem to solve. rmxxximtmxxsnnnmm

Each person gets one uxmnzxxhxxiumuxaixxmxum action. Not a technique, not a whole movement, one action. Each person moves slow and you take turns responding to what you are given. You can move, you can hit, you can block, but you only get one action. It's to teach you efficiency and economy of motion. Apply your kata movements to it and see what you can do. Pay attention to how you can transisition and only use one action. You're cheating yourself if you don't. I use a metrenome for this exercise and me and a partner each get a simultaneous m action. It gives you

time to think and recognize opportunity. Every action should disadvantage your partner and give you an advantage.

Push Hands

I sometimes also call this push hands or soft sparring. You and a partner move slow and work against each other to manipulate and off balance the other. Learn to flow and

use kata movements to transition efficiently. Learn to take advantage some how whether you are the one being unbalanced or the one doing the unbalancing. lhis is a good timet 0 experiment with some of the general purpose use of a movement. Work on a single section or multiple, but keep it to yourslef. Use it creatively and see what happens. It's important not

to get to competitive or try to use too much force while doing this<irill. You should always be moving, recognizing and exploiting in this exercise, always working to disadvantage

your partner, but he is doing the same to you. If you over commit or use too much power and your partner feels your movement and exploits the weak spot by redirecting and adding his

own energy to your movement than what happens might not be so soft. You'll have helped injure yourself so go slow. Xbu

won't be doing yourself any favors.

Play fighting

Play fighting is basically randori or free play, but I prefer the term play fighting, because people tend to tense up and act stupid when you call it sparring. Anyone can instinctually play fight in a safe manner, for some reason when we call it training people get too serious and try to win. fhere is no winning or losing in practice, just practice.

All techniques are on the table, Striking, gouging, locking, takedowns, chokes and anything else you can think of. I

would go slow until you become more comfortable with controlling your power. lhe nature of constantly using your structure

makes it hard to pull strikes if you're driving your forearm, knee, shin and foot into someone at the same time. Like always we are not trying to predict our m partner's movements or actions. Ne are continually trying to disadvantage them thnngh movement, recognizing opportunities and exploiting them as

we see them. Do not pretend the strikes are real, but don't ignore them. If you're using structure and driving through

you won't be able to ignore them anyway. All targets are

free play, but you must go slow enough not to damage, but follow through.

Attacker and "defender"

The attacker choses one attack or group of attacks and continually throws them at the defender. the defenders job is to neutralize the threat in as few moves as possible. I uszally choose the criteria as being able to free yourself enough to escape. fhe

idea is to be able to move from your natural flinch response to

an appropriate action. Remember violent action trumps technique. we’re not worried about perfect, but good enough. The attackers Job is a continual barage with no thought of defense. fhe

defender either stops the attacker or gets overwhelmed. It can somatimes be beneficial for the defender to start with their hands behind their back or in their pockets, so they will be

one step behind the attacker even if they see it coming.

No matter what it is important to play and experiemtn with your kata during partner practice. Let the success or the failure of a movement be the reward or punishment for conditioning. Phe more you use your kata movements, the more ways you find to use them, the more ways you learn to

exploit opportunities. A1ways keep the model of move, recognize exploit. During free play it's important to let your mind so and move intuitively, Just let yourself em and move and see what happens. fhe more you practice the more everything gets connected. This should allow you to have a set of conditioned movements, which can be used to flail efficiently and inteligently if you find yourself drawing a blank on what to do, because you will move, the<iefau1t is move and you will have your set of movements. You'll be able to spot opportunities and instantly exploit them with a proper movement. You will no longer have

to think about what you're doing. You will just be moving. recognizing and exploiting.


Move smoothly, relax, coordinate breathing with action, use booy parts in concert to apply energy. Break down and examine each component action, examine how the collective actions work together, consciously direct attention to each part. fhis is not in regard to technique or application, but merely effective and efficient movement. You can write until you learn to make your letters, right every time. Phis is no diiferent.


Pattern Practice your kata together in its learned pattern, but also take

time to examine each sequence or distinctive sub set of movements on their own. fhis allows time to meditate on a movement. when a kata is normally practice your attention is on each portion for a mere amount of seconds.


Link different movements in kata, do not reset or change the movements, see how you can move directly from on position to another with the kata. Almost like walking. Study the connections, when you can and can't use parts together.


Layer movements where you can practice stationary weight shifting each movement done wihtout taking a step if the movements

allow you to do one after the other without reset. Pip you

don't have to face the same way. Shift move, repeat, study.

Find how the moves work together.


Experiment and Play: the purpose of the first level of study

is to become as familiar with all of the body mechanics of your kata, so you can move effortlessly and continuously

in a martial fashion. Phat is to say with the capacity to inflict danage with every action. Movement needs to be instant, effortless and intuitive, but it must also be proper and consistent. oec oming deeply faniliar with each part and ingraining it will free up the a mind for actively examining and studying subsequent layers. It's very difficult to think both of how to make a movement and of its function at the

same tine.


Mushotoku or practice wihtout thought for gain or profit is essential. If you are thinking about the prize at the end than you are not focused on the moment. if you are not focused on

the moment than you are not training.

All energy and attention must be on the action, the breath and

the mental intent. in single kata practice there is only today. it is concentration on continual improvement, increasing understanding at your current level and practice. ihere is only the here and now. Ehere is nothing else.


in context of application you will have to adapt, act on and respond to another thinking, 111 ng, breathing, moving human being. You will need to be able to move freely between any and all hate movements naturally. Do do this in solo practice you should play with the kata in a creative and spontaneous way. imagine an opponent close range, chest to chest, close enough to smell what they had for lunch and act on them. do not wait, do not hesitate, do not plan or prepare, ACE. Use all

of the movement to destory them. imagine a tight, put yourself in a position of disadvantage, continual disadvantage and adapt. Getting your ass kicked is when you need to be the

most creative, not when you're wiping someone up off the floor.

Breath, think, pay attention to movement, structure and how it relates to function. Constantly reapply and reevalute your

kata during every step of your journey and after any additional information learned or understood.


Just like learning to read and write the cognitive process and mechanics will become easier ande asier until you don't even notice or are even aware that you are doing so.


These movements are essentially meant to do work, so try and use them to do work. Move furniture, lift weights, try creative ways to test the function and utility of your kata movements. fne more you know the better you will be. Remember that the easier it feels the more efficiently you are using a movement.

Kata is a Yes No Question

You either know your Rate or you don't. It's yes or no. There is no maybe, sort of, or I think. ihe whole point is so we don't have to think, so we have to know. You can't say, well if I were in my 31, or in the dojo, or my room or if peopleweren't watching. Presumably if you ever have to apply the movements

in kata another person will be there. If it‘s some other type of dangerous animal, I'd tell you to run, but you just might

be dead. Sorry. It's really It only for nus-an humans. the point I'm trying to m Re is that this whole system rests on internalizing and understanding the Rate. Everything comes right back to this. It is the fundamentals. You don't kind or sort of know the alphabet. mu do or you don't, and if you only know part of it's not really helpful. We can't condition ourselves to only perform the kata in certain conditions. Too many time 3 I've seen people start a kata from a different direction in the doJo and forget the entire sequence. Practice it anywhere you can. It will help you not attach any actions to a place and it will help build those neuropathways that we need. i‘he more

we do something the easier and more efficient is is for our body to do. i‘his counts for anything. Our body is actually able to recruit more muscles to do an activity the more we do it. It's part of the reason certain exercises become easier. Our bodies are these wonderful little adapting machines molded by our activities and our environment. It's why at the beginning it's so important to practice with purpose and attention. Don't go fast. Fast isfor later. Right now we want as perfect aswe can. We don't want to have to unlearn accidental crap.

It's also important to keep in mind that wewill apply the movements based on context and opportunities, so you don't need to think

about application at this point. It would be difficult and

counter productive to try and remember how to use a letter by

trying to think of every word that uses that letter at the

same time. ihe same applies.

A good test for whether you have sufficiently learned the Kata pattern is by trying to perform it immediately after doing sore thing stressful. It doesn't have to be the most perfect the you've done it, but you shouldn't have to pause, think, start over or readjust yourself. You obviously shouldn't lose your place. i'hings that you can do to stress you out. Interval training would be a start. iabata intervals ares tressful and trying to perform the kata afterwards without stopping to rest or collect yourself would be difficult. sprinting, running,

jumping jacks, loud noises are all good options. Have 3 meone watch you, or set up a camera. Unless you're pretty confident it

will produce anxiety. This is good. You'll also be able to check ends so if you're doing anything real funky.

Lhe first step in understanding your hate is understanding eni

paying attention to how your body is moving, and where you feel

your momentum carrying you. You can't pay attention to this and

conciously think about how the pattern goes. the pattern needs to

be rock solid in your head. Once you can run through it while

{gour thinking about what you'll have for lunch you re pretty much re.

. , l milking“


Once you have the pattern

Once you have the pattern and sequence memorized it's time to start really checking your form. lhis is really hard to do while moving fast, so you will have to go slow, really, really, really slow. As slow as you possibly can without losing your balance or compromising the form by having to compensate for balance. You want to make sure that everything is moving toward the direction of general movement. l‘urns of your foot must send you in the direction of movement. Hips should not thrust the opposite direction and you should not find yourself leaning backwards. Hand and leg movements as well as the

torso should all move together to perform the action. For instance if you can push with your arms while pulling with your legs. We want a our whole body working together. If

it feels super weird, it's probably wrong. You should start paying attention to where your center of gravity is going. It's lay. i‘his is mnetimes called your hare. in karate.

An exercise I've used that I find helpful is to balance a

book on my head while I practice. Your head usually rides over your center of gravity and gum the book will stay on your head if your movements are concentrated in the same direction. It's inertia will keep it in place, while you practice and any movements that are bleeding energy in opposite or perpendicular ways will lmock it off. Once you can do this you can move on to the next section. Keep in mind that you can cheat and make a bunch of weird awkward movements to compensate forany lack of balance and smoothness of action on your part, but you'd Just be cheating yourself. You get as much as you put in. This isn't magic.


Finding the function of each movement is about finding the edges. It is a sliding scale between optimal and worthless There are sweet spots in any movement where there is some play or Wiggle room in how strong or weak it is. This goes for stances, the path of your limbs and the posxtion of your limbs. To find the edges you need to stress your movements and postures in some way. Put weights in your hands and feel where you can rest in your posture while holding them. Use elastic bands or a post or wall to test your structure. Use someone else and try and move each other around a room to test your movements. but use your movements, use your pattems.

Tying it together

It‘s very easy once you begin to start playing around With the functional bits of kata to forget about the kata itself to forget about the movements. One needs to experiment With the movements and try and use them. They might fail or they might succeed, but one needs to use them to find out how this happens. This means active exammation and analysis just like the previous level We are still staying mindful of the movement, but we are not being mindful of the performance, so much as we are being mindful of where we feel strong or compromised. where our center of balance hes.

Pattern and Function

One must have internalized the pattern and the shape of the kata to enough of a degree that they have freed up enough brain space to be able to examine how your body is moving. This is not the how to move your body to conform to the kata. but examining what you are doing. It is difficult if not impossible to both examine how to use a movement and focus on how to perform each movement.

Practice Stress the Movemi nlt

There is right and wrong way to do this. The whole idea of learning the functionality of a movement is to tind where the natural points of strength and weakness are and this means stressing the movements, The strong avenues of use and application are those that feel easy. I he weak avenues are those that feel hard or make you strain. You Will feel pressure and the weight. but you won't have to contract any muscles that aren't naturul stabili/ers. stress the movements to find the edges. As long as it doesn't damage you it's a good way to test each movement. The makiwara or other impact training devices can be very good for this because if you [be] yourself collapse into the strike or push than you know it isn't structurally sound. You should not llcx on impact. Your skeleton bears the brunt of the force. Weights and elastic bands can help you feel structure. Move between different actions and movements breaking them down bit by bit and seeing how you can apply pressure and force continuously. This goes back to transitions.

Wall Training

This is part of testing structure and stressing the movements. but it's a more specific exercise. You are basically leaning against a wall with the contact points, which you would use to strike or move a person. This is your hands. feet. elbows. forearms. knees and anything that might touch a person in the kata. Remember a person Will be close enough to hug. What parts of the kata and at what angles and avenues can you lean up against a wall without using an abundance of muscular strength? Bounce against the wall and see where you collapse and where you're rigid. Collapsing means it will act as a shock absorber and inhibit the transfer of kinetic energy into someone else. You should not have to tease, contract or use muscle to hold these positions. Find this in every little pan of your kata. Find where each little part is strong and where its weak. Play with this.

Feel Your Weight

During kata practice. break down the kata by movement and examine the path your limbs take and the direction your weight is going. Feel your inertia and momentum as you go through each movement. As before it is easier to examine each movement if you practice them individually. As before also pracgtice transitioning between movements and engaging in free play movement where you move between each pattern spontaneously and creatively keeping in mind to feel where your weight. momentum and inertia are at any given time. How can you move continuously in ever changing directions without stopping, resetting or prepping?

Kala at Work

The purpose of kata movement is to do work. it is the efficient and effective application of energy. it does not have a preconceived criteria for this. It isjust movement. because it is used for work one should try and use the kata for work. This doesn't have to be an entire movement. but parts ofa movement. Trying moving groceries, furniture or anything with different parts of a movement and feel if it makes it caster or harder.


The movement ot'kata is part of our daily lives. The same strengths we use to move around during the day are the same we use in the kata. except in the kata they are put to use for doing damage. Pay attention to how you are moving throughout the day and try and find similarities between it and your kata The same principles of walking, which is a controlled fall. are the same principles employed in generating power for many kata movements. Pay attention to all of your movement

Push Hand?

This is the first of the partner practice. It is a free play exercise where each person slowly and softly tries to move the other person against their wishes and the other does the same. It is a dynamic way to experiment with using the kata and structure. Each of you is trying to find the structural weak points of the other person by applying your structural strengths and adapting to the others actions. It is not competitive. The more energy you give the more it can fly back in your face if you over commit, so go slow and smooth.

The Mindless Drill

During partner practice pick a movement. Use this movement repetitively without thought of repetition when you are within hugging distance and see what happens. Your partner is free to attack or defend however they like, or they can pick a movement as well. The point of this drill is to see what the movement can do on its own. Many times just going through the movement softly, but firmly will move you to a certain position or orientation naturally. This will not only give you ideas for use, but will also help to show how different movements might be applied.


All the same exercises from the previous section are still important. but one should also add thinking about the function of each movement. Kata should be practiced according to the pattem. outside of the pattern and any way else you may think to practice the kata.

Questions to meditate on while practicing kata.

What am i actually doing?

What is the force vector of my movement?

What feels strong?

What feels weak?


As in the section before play is important. Play is where the learning really takes place. One must practice the kata enough to be able to play with it. As before practice fighting imaginary opponents, practice the kata in unconventional ways and use your creativity.


Function is the meaning behind the movement.

Put most simply one must meditate diligently on each component. I'm not sure if this is practical or possible to do with multiple kata at one tine.

Increase exposure to opportunity and luck. Practice, experiment and use trial and error. Anything that isn't destructive to yourself that will help you understand your kata is beneficial. This will apply broadly to each component and section. eats righting requires thought, but we don't want cumbersome thinking processes while engaged in combat, so we must ingrain these as well through diligent thought, practice and application. we want as much of our cognitive processes free for getting out f trouble not trying to remember our body mechanics, techniques, tactics or strategies.

"Luck favors the prepared." Keep researching.