"Even after many years, kata practice is never finished, for there is always something new to be learned about executing a movement." – Shoshin Nagamine
This is one of the things I love about kata. To me if is like a great book or TV show: you enjoy it so much that you’re disappointed when it ends. The great thing about kata of course is that is never ends. There is always a new insight into the application, or the nature of the motion, of the breathing, or the structure of the body, etc. I feel kata has so much to depth that is can be an endless source of insight.
Modern practise tends to have people feeling they have “finished” with a kata the instant that they have used it to pass a grading exam. Plenty of those who are in to bunkai also fall into this trap when they have got the application to workable standard i.e. “I know what the move is for. I can make it work. The kata therefore has nothing left to teach me.”
We need to aspire to perfection, and part of that is working out what perfection is. We can get so much from kata that is a great shame it becomes something superficial such as: a way to pass gradings, a collection of martial “tricks”, a form of exercise, a way to win trophies, and so on.
I think the failure to appreciate the depth of kata is largely because it is taught in a superficial manner. However, it may well also be that students want to be taught in a superficial way? The dojo that teaches in-depth may lose students to the dojo that teaches superficially i.e. “I learnt that kata ages ago, and it only took me three months. You’ve been working that kata for how long?! Are you on some special slow learners program or something?”
How do you ensure the depth of kata is appreciated and given value? How do you ensure students enjoy exploring the depth of kata? Thoughts?
All the best,