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The Isshin-Ryu Kata

By Wayne Wayland

Before understanding the principles of Isshinryu Kata, an in-depth knowledge of kata (form) must be understood to appreciate the real need for form.  A kata is a very formal, prearranged routine combining blocking, kicking, striking, and breathing techniques to demonstrate methods of defense, attack, and counterattack.  It is a very carefully designed sequence of fundamental karate techniques preformed in sequences in which they would be used naturally, signifying an imaginary fight against several opponents.  The fighting movements in the form are choreographed, allowing the student to express fully the basic of karate-do: speed, strength, technique, beauty, control, and perfection. 

Famous karate masters, who spent their lives seeking and developing movements that were physically and mentally acceptable (perfection), created the katas.  A great number of these masters actually used many of these techniques in life-or-death encounters.  Thus, kata has been referred to as the “Dance of Death”.

The katas are the essence of karate.  Without kata, karate would simply be the study of various fighting techniques, expressing nothing and allowing for no artist development.  The katas are the concentrated wisdom, understanding, and experience of these masters translated into rhythm movement.

As a beginner, the first katas are very basic, becoming harder as the student progresses.  The katas combine the majority of karate techniques into this continuous routine that will greatly improve the student’s condition.   Kata training also teaches students self-discipline because of the dedication it takes to learn and perfect its movements.  The perfection of kata leads to the mastery of basic technique, which builds a physical and mental toughest, that allows complete control of all parts of the body.

While practicing kata, the mind as well as the body is exercised by mentally visualizing all opponents, their actions and reactions.  The student must be aware of adversaries, confronting each individually and collectively and providing undivided attention to the immediate situation.   Each kata must be dissected and each individual move must be analyzed as to its bunki, remembering there is no wasted motion and each movement has a specific purpose and meaning.  The student must understand that each technique may utilize several different meanings that are adaptable to many different situations.

While practicing Isshinryu Kata:

1.                  Remember each kata begins and ends in peace (hence the bow)

2.                  Remember each kata starts (first technique) with a block or defensive move, because karate is for self-defense.

3.                  Try to comprehend the purpose of each movement.

4.                  Visualize each opponent.

5.                  Eliminate jerky movements and flow from one technique to another.

6.                  Breath correctly at all times.

7.                  Maintain the kata lines and patterns.

8.                  Maintain proper eye contact.

9.                  If in doubt, ASK!

Finally, as you perfect your kata you will realize a sense of enlightenment and the techniques will flow as they were performing themselves.  And, when you reach pure perfection observers will see your enemies falling as you perform and when you finish, relax and look around you’ll see bodies.



 Copyright © 2003 Wayland's Isshin-Ryu Karate-Do, LLC


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