Sometimes the answers might come from places you least expected. I was never quite sure about the value of Kata, other than showmanship, but I’m sure that there is something deep and profound about katas but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. As Aikido generally do not practise a fixed category of Katas, and yet million of folks out there in other discipline does Kata, it is evident that there is a deeper meaning which missed me totally.
Not until I picked up a Men’s Health magazine and I was looking through a set of exercise when it hit me, I mean how does the men in Men’s Health get the bodies they got? Simply by performing the sets as illustrated in the magazine! Duh. then I realize that Kata is everywhere. And without Kata, the formalization of forms, we as a human race will progress very little.
Kata is a formula for success.
How can I argue with that since it is so evident. The public performance of a Kata is only the beginning, behind that, is countless of hours preparing and practicing, moving and honing the timing of the kata. And one cannot reach the end of the kata until one begins the kata. Very similarly in life, we cannot see to the completion and fruition of our efforts unless we start; somewhere. It is the private victory we achieve first before we can achieve public victory, so people will see a beautiful kata in action, but not the pain and planning behind it. But a beautifully executed kata has all that, and more.
Some call it a game plan, some a game face. Whatever it is, it is a plan and the plan do not become yours until you own it. similarly a kata is only a kata until you begin to execute the moves, then the kata becomes you. And when you finish your kata, you will be typically be back where you first begin, so that you can start again. And kata is not a means to an end, neither it is an end by itself. When a kata ends, it only signals the beginning of another kata, as we will continue to improve our moves, tighten our timing, perfect our never perfect kata. A kata teaches us that no matter how perfect our moves are, there is always a room for improvement, having this concept and understanding, keeps us grounded, and keeps us curious. A kata will only become mechanistic and loses its spirit, when we begin to think that our kata is perfect and ends all efforts to seek improvements.
So whatever you do, in any profession you are in, there is always your formula for success, and that is your kata, that set piece you spend your life and sweat honing, and executed so perfectly when the critical moments comes for you to use it, to show it. Therefore, a Kata is not just a showmanship, but it is a conscious and mental display of our humanistic ability to practice and practice until we achieve perfection, and success.