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  • Writer's pictureRebekah

Kata... what are they?

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Forms, kata, patterns.. If you’re involved in martial arts you’ll have heard at least one of these terms. What are they? What do they mean? Are they different things?

Whatever you call them, they refer to the same thing. Different clubs and styles will have different names. In Freestyle Tae Kwon Do we call them kata. Each style of martial arts has different kata or forms, and there are many variations within these.

What are they?

A kata, form or pattern is simply a detailed pattern of moves practiced solo or in groups. Kata involve a series of moves, with stepping and turning, including punches, blocks and kicks performed while maintaining perfect form. Kata range in complexity, with students learning harder katas as they move up the belts and they gain more experience. At LEFMAA we have two basic kata, six intermediate, 3 brown belt and 5 black belt kata. Previously learned kata are repeated to show improvements in technique and power.

Why do we do them?

Though kata could be performed as self-defence in a fight, they are not intended to be a literal depiction of a fight. They are a display of a students technique, showing the transition and flow from one movement to the next. We teach katas to help students work on form and stances, as well their technical ability. They are also used as a way to encourage students to visualizer different scenarios with each move. For example, in the basic kata Chon Gi, the student would visualise blocking an attack, then countering this with a punch. Kata also help develop muscle memory, mindfulness and breathing.

Where do they come from

Kata originate from the practice of paired attack drills by the ancient chinese martial artists. These drills required that a partner be present in order to practice them, so kata/forms were created from the defensive portion of the drills, to allow individuals to practice on their own. Over time, these drills were developed to fit into martial arts training. Ancient martial arts practitioners used kata as a way of recording combat movements that made it easier to remember and pass on to future generations.

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