The subject of kata is one that fascinates me. There’s enough evidence suggesting that back in the days pre WWII kata training in Okinawa followed a very bespoked approach where karatekas often studied different katas, suited to their specific build, physical condition, skills, etc. Even the execution of the kata wasn’t expected to be a clone to that of their peers or senseis.
It’s only when karate attracted a wider audience and numbers grew that standardisation of kata was introduced and large groups of karatekas started studing the same katas and followed very strict execution guidelines.
Standardisation went yet another level up with the introduction of kata competions, where karatekas had to be assessed against common and agreed set of rules, often introduced or changed for aesthetic reasons.
This brings me to three questions::
- Where does standardisation leave the essence of kata?
- What was kata for originally?
- What is kata?
Time to reflect…