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Kata or formal exercises of karate consists of a series of basic techiques of Blocking, Punching, Striking and Kicking which are logically and orderly combined. The formal exercises are a systematically organized series of offensive and defensive techniques performed in a set sequence.Every 'kata' begins with a defensive technique.
The word kata means "shape" or "form". The kanji for kata (the Japanese character above at the right) is composed of the following characters:Katachi meaning "Shape"
Kai meaning "Cut", and
Tsuchi meaning "Earth" or "Soil".
It was Master Gichin Funakoshi insistence on training in kata conforming to his view of learning one kata for three years which made famous his quote Hitotsu kata san nen.He stressed on training each kata to perfection Having trained with great masters like Azato, Anko Itosu, Niigaki and others, Funakoshi  was well aware of all the various Kata forms of the Naha, Shuri and Tomari schools.

In the beginning of the 19th century, there were only 24 kata taught in Okinawa. However the secrecy that governed the martial art along with the absence of any written records meant that the only method of teaching was from master to student. This led to the katas getting different interpretations from various masters' students. It is because of these interpretations that in modern day karate a little over 60 katas are in existance.

To make his philosophy of training in karate-do kata more practical for the karateka, he chose to bring down the original number of kata taught in his school. In order to make Karate-do an integral part of Japanese culture and tradition, Master Gichin Funakoshi also modified the names of the kata to make them more Japanese in nature. Katas like Kushanku became Kanku, Pasai changed to Bassai. Chinto to Empi, Seishan to Hangetsu and the Pinan series to Heian.

Hitotsu kata san nen

The Ten Elements Of Kata

1.YOI NO KISIN - the spirit of getting ready. The concentration of will and mind against the opponent as a preliminary to the movements of the Kata.

2.INYO - the active and passive. Always keep in mind both attack and defence.

3.CHIKARA NO KYOJAKU - The Force (strong/weak) of the Power. The power of a technique derives from the proper balance between strength and relaxation.

4.WAZA NO KANKYU - The Tempo (slow/fast) of the Techniques. The tempo of the kata varies – some techniques are performed quickly, while others are done more slowly.

5.TAI NO SHINSUKU - the degree of expansion or contraction. The degree of expansion or contraction of the body in each movement and position in Kata.

6.KOKYU - breathing. Breath control related to the posture and movement in Kata.

7.TYAKUGAN - the aiming points. In Kata you must keep the purpose of the movement in mind.

8.KIAI - shouting. Shouting at set points in Kata to demonstrate the martial spirit.

9.KEITAI NO HOJI - correct positioning. Correct positioning in movement and stance.

10.ZANSHIN - remaining on guard. Remaining on guard at the completion of the Kata. - "Yoi" Position)



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