About The Study of Kata/Forms

What is a Kata?

The word simply refers to a pattern or sequence of techniques practiced as a solo exercise in traditional martial art schools from Japan and China. Very often these movements are not well understood or appreciated by people outside of the old martial art systems. This is because on the surface they may look like simple prearranges sequences of techniques. But in truth they are the living heart of the traditional martial arts.

The famous Tai Chi Form of 108 Movements contains the entire comprehensive teachings of the art of Tai Chi. In traditional Karate this accomplished by teaching a series of shorter forms or kata.

These sequences of continuous techniques are both an inner mindfulness meditation for calming and centering the mind and breath but also an active or external exercise for developing precise physical dexterity and timing, flexibility and core strength. Each traditional form represents a lineage of hundreds (if not thousands) of years of devoted study by multiple generations of practitioners.

When one learns a Kata/Form sufficiently and no longer needs to think about each succeeding movement they can then begin to apply the next stage of training, knowing when to use kime/fajing, or focus. This is when the entire musculature of the body is used to guide the limbs towards an intended target at a specific point in space. Once achieved the muscles are contracted, stopping their motion in an instant and allowing the kinetic energy to be transferred into the target. The tightening and relaxing of the correct muscles takes a tremendous amount of concentration and it is only in the practice of Kata/forms that we can learn to control our body to respond to our wishes and also exercise the same control over our breathing. When the movements of a kata/form become so familiar that they can be practiced without hesitation or thinking, a mental relationship to both the body and the kinetic energy inherent in the movement will be released and a deep meditative perception will develop. — A mind-body-spirit awareness will be absorbed. This energy pattern will result in a strong sense of controlled concentration.

Past studies have shown that practitioners of Zen and Yoga display an alpha wave activity (these waves are steady fluctuations reflecting electrical activity of the brain with a frequency of 8-13 cycles per second) during periods of meditation. A kata or form expert develops the alpha wave state in an active or potentially active state. He or she is profoundly attuned to the totality of their surroundings and experiences of a radical awakening in directional awareness.

So if you put all this together it becomes apparent that by training Kata/Forms a student of arts like Karate and Tai Chi Chuan learn far more than just some self defense movements. They are speaking deeply to the very essence of life and what it means to be alive. They are a small ritualized expression of the totality existence. They begin and end in a stance that represents the void from which all life emanates. They are built on patterns that mirror natures fundamental designs such as seen in the Fibonacci sequence and golden ratio. They are universal in their fundamental principals of what is possible but each individual practitioner will perform them in a way that is unique to their personality and spirit. They connect us to our ancestors and ancient history. They are simply brilliant and words cannot express their profundity.

The Vancouver teaches numerous traditional Forms in Karate, Tai Chi Chuan, and Kobudo (weapons).

Click Here for the Vancouver Dojo Kata And Form List