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PART IV A Modern View of Kata, a Venerable Training Tool

By Roland Cadiente and Matthew Hemenez

PART 4 of 4


Kata have been part of karate nearly since its inception. The early pioneers of kata were as human then as we are today. They recognized that we humans practicing a new discipline require organized methodologies of repetition. They recognized that kata offered the fundamentals to beginners yet could be built on over a lifetime of study.

In their simplest form, kata are highly effective pre-arranged sequences of moves that introduce students to karate techniques and combination. At their best, kata are variations of the physical expression of karate, acting as a complex platform for physical, mental and technical development of the discipline.

If you are an instructor, it is absolutely your responsibility to ensure that each and every student fully understands, embraces, and appreciates all concepts in this article. If you are a student, it will be to your absolute benefit to understand, embrace and appreciate all aspects of this article.

Remember the challenge in the section about the physical benefits of karate…schedule time this week to complete the exercises therein.


Kata Joint Exercise #1

1) Choose a kata, preferably one that incorporates kicks, hand techniques, and a variety of stances.

2) Choose a kata that you know well. This is not a drill to practice kata per se. This is a drill to use the kata to exercise your joints, tendons, and ligaments.

3) Expect that it will take approximately twice the normal time to complete each kata repetition. Do not rush.

4) Commit to performing this kata 3-5-times. In between each repetition, take a timed 1- minute break (no more, no less). During this rest, reset yourself mentally re-perform the kata precisely.

5) At the ready stance, inhale as deeply as possible, hold for 2-seconds, then slowly exhale. As you exhale, visualize the first move in the kata to set yourself mentally to execute this kata precisely as prescribed. Do that two more times.

a) As you execute the kata, incorporate the following:

i) Hand techniques

1. Half speed, FULL EXTENSION.

2. Hold the arm that is being extended a count of one. With each strike, extend your arm

beyond how you would normally extend in the execution of the technique. When done

properly, you will feel a slight muscle stretch as well as a feeling of release around your joints

(like that feeling you get when you stretch upon waking up).

3. When the opposite hand is retracted, do so the just beyond the point that it naturally

stops. Also feel the stretch there. Hold for the same count.

ii) Foot techniques.

1. Half speed using incremental execution to assure full range of motion.

2. Incremental execution means that each kick should be 5 separate movements:

1] Lift leg at the knee

2] fully extend leg for the kick

3] hold for a count of one

4] bring leg back to knee

5] lower leg to floor

3. FULL extension.

iii) Stances

1. Execute all stances in their normal manner, ensuring absolute full extension where


2. Squat stances…attempt to squat so that your upper legs are parallel with the ground

without bending at your waist. Hold for a count of one.

Kata Cardio Exercise #1

1) Commit the time required to complete this exercise. If you are in a hurry to get finished, don’t start it. Come back when you have time.

2) Use a stopwatch to time your breaks. If you have a smartphone you have a stopwatch. Do not estimate, do not cut breaks short or extend them.

3) Choose a kata that you know well. This is not a drill to practice kata per se. This is a drill to use the kata to exercise your cardiovascular system.

4) Commit to executing the kata as correctly as possible without slowing down. Full extensions or arms and legs every time, deep stances where applicable, full turns.

5) Don’t correct yourself. If you do a move wrong or forget a move, just keep going.


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