The latest issue of Classical Fighting Arts is now out (Vol. 2 No 12, Issue #35). I spent some time today reading Harry Cook's article The History and Evolution of Karate-do Kata Part II. What an excellent article!
Many of us believe that kata is the heart of Karate. Some would go so far to say that without kata, there is no Karate. However, the depth of kata practice and the interpretation of the techniques in the kata vary greatly in Karate schools around the world. I think it would be fair to say that some people practice kata for their appearance alone, with no understanding of or interest in practical applications. My Sensei says that many people practice kata with the "fight" removed.
Cook Sensei has done an excellent job of presenting different views about kata. He writes: "[A]s martial artists we should be interested in the practical effect of the movements we perform, and the context in which they are performed, and if we look at kata in the traditional way we can discover a very valuable source of techniques and tactics."
I could not agree more.
I am very fortunate to know many senior Karate instructors. Having been on the receiving end of many of their techniques, I can say that there is a world of difference between an instructor who truly understands kata and on who does not. It is a bit like an ignorant person using a gun as a hammer. Kata teaches us how easy it is to aim and pull the trigger!
I write for Classical Fighting Arts but am also a big fan of its excellent articles. When I receive an issue, I don't read my articles, I read all the others (articles, interviews and translations). And I wish I could find the original of the photo of Chojun Miyagi and Gichin Funkakoshi that appears on page 25 of the current issue!
I hope that you will try to find CFA at the newstand, your local bookstore, or online at:
My compliments to Cook Sensei. I can't wait to see his next book, Karate Chronicles!
Charles C. Goodin