Monday, January 17, 2011

Meaning in kata OR when a punch is not a punch

When people talk about how to extract meaning from the movements in kata, they often refer to how the physical actions can be directly translated into a technique.  Often, this is the case, but is opposite to how kata were designed (technique first, kata second).

Kata is 'written' in shorthand, to assist with solo practice of techniques.  Not everything in them is meant to be taken literally.  I have gained much insight from Kane and Wilder's The Way of Kata, through general reading, through the techniques we practice versus the kata we do  and through things my instructor has demonstrated and said

For me, this is some of the shorthand of kata.
  • If a hand is touching another part of my body, it implies being grabbed by the opponent (eg: saifa opening)
  • moving forwards is an aggressive technique (but the movement is not necessarily part of the technique)
  • likewise, moving backwards is a defensive technique
  • open hands can mean grabbing/holding the opponent
  • hikite (retracting hand) almost always has something in it (usually part of the opponent)
  • backfists can mean elbows (straight out, or downwards)
  • shikodachi implies an offbalancing technique or a takedown/throw (eg: seienchin, seipai)
  • nekoachidachi implies an optional kick/knee
  • all kicks can be knees
  • chains of punches (such as in the open palm deflection, tetsui, punch, punch of seisan) aren't literal - they mean to beat the crap out of the opponent with multiple techniques
  • turns often imply takedowns
  • a block, when it finishes a sequence in the kata, is not a block; it will be a hidden strike or a limb entanglement (eg: double block at start of pinan/heian sandan)
  • a sequence in kata is not always showing something from start to finish - it may be offering options for what to do in the middle of an engagement.  For instance, the traditional start of saifa is often practised as against a hand grab.  Why have they grabbed your hand?  You have grabbed their groin, and they are trying to stop you.
  • Some sequences in kata give you options of what to do if the first option fails.  The next sequence is an alternative ending/option for use after the previous technique's entry.
  • There is a lot of double-up and redundancy between kata.
But none of this shorthand is particularly useful unless you know the techniques first!

No comments:

Post a Comment