Kata is a formal sequence of strikes and blocks combined with specific movements, positions and breathing. Some kata are purely symbolic being derived from Taoist or Buddhist religious practices.
In some systems, students learn many different kata. However this tradition focuses on intensive practice of a limited number of kata so that repetition leads to greater strength and perfection of technique. Kata can also be considered a form of meditation in motion.
In this practice, we use a jutte form, consisting of several dozen movements that deliver combinations of blocks and strikes. In kata all attacks are directed at atemi waza, the vital pressure points on an opponents body. Practitioners also learn the effects caused by striking a certain point.
Kata performed individually requires the visualisation of an opponent’s attacks and the appropriate defensive response. After the block there should be a counterattack to sensitive areas of the human body. In kata peformed in pairs, all previously trained actions are practiced with a partner. However, the attacks which are performed are not fully in in contact due to the safety of the practitioners.
Full contact kata or bunkai can be practised with protectors that allow strikes pressure points. These exercises improve the sense of distance, offer interesting variants of technique and prevent a tendency to pull strikes before contact.
Kata also helps develop the skills to fight several opponents at once and training in a group of three or more people can be very effective in making the bunkai more realistic. Protectors also allow us to safely train to defend attacks from different directions. Kata can be practised regardless of age or physical conditioning. A deep practice of kata that seeks perfection in its forms, unifies mind, body and spirit - the true essence of martial arts.