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michael rosenbaum
michael rosenbaum's picture
Kata & Meditation

Aside from its self-defense aspects, do any of you feel that kata can be used as a form of moving meditation. More importantly do you think that in this huslte and buslte world of ours that the spiritual aspects of kata may outweigh the combative aspects?

dragon's picture

definately sometimes i even do them very tai chi style very loose and supple slowly and deliberately. i find this a good way to increase focus and also calming to the spirit. i have often had a bad day at work or been forced to miss classes because of work ( very frustrating) and Kata practise releases this frustration.


Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

michael rosenbaum wrote:
More importantly do you think that in this huslte and buslte world of ours that the spiritual aspects of kata may outweigh the combative aspects?

I personally would not use the word “spiritual”, but semantics aside I think that the mental and physical benefits will be of greater benefit to most than the practical benefits. Ill health will kill more of us than violence will. Our overall wellbeing is something that effects every second of every day; violence is thankfully pretty rare for the majority. So a case can be made that the “do” aspect will be of most value to most.

I’m of the view that we can and should have both though. Kata (and karate as a whole) can be both life-preserving (dealing violence and physical health) and life-enhancing (mental wellbeing). We get most from it when we acknowledge both aspects and don’t have one at the expense of the other.

All the best,


shoshinkanuk's picture

I wouldnt know much about this, what I can say is that if  'mushin' is a desired state of mind then I think I have felt it - albeit a crude version of it.

Often, I start a kata and have no idea what happened in the middle etc etc, I just find myself at the end feeling puzzled!

LC Stig
LC Stig's picture

  Can kata be used as moving meditation? Well, it can, but it would probably depend on the focus during the kata. If focus is on the bunkai and on smashing up the face of an invincible opponent it would probably not qualify as meditation (but it could be good kata training :-) ). Neither would it be meditation if thoughts just wander freely during the kata (this may be relaxing for the mind; like some people find it easier to relax the mind during walking  than when beeing still, but it would be far from meditating.)

  Technically there are several ways to meditate. To the non-meditator they may all look more or less the same, but if you wire up meditators brains and do EEGs during meditation, then at least some of these techniques will show up with different patterns. Most types of meditation would be meaningless to do during kata performance. One type of meditation, however, that is very well suited for use during motor activity is MT (mindfullness training). MT is beeing used by sports people to enhance performance, and it is used in the treatment of stress related health issues and as a tool in personal development. It aims to optimize relaxation and concentration simultaneously.

MT has been used by zen monks for >1000years and has, over the last decades, been westernized, which means that you do not have to become a buddhist to do it. If it is done properly during kata it is still pretty much like traditional zen medititation performed by monks during e.g walking meditation.

Using the kata as meditative practice can be useful, for instance could experimenting with "the locus of the focus" during "katameditation" possibly add dimensions to the learning of complex motor skills. It could definitely be seen as a part of the "do aspect" of karate practice.