There are many aspects of martial arts that can benefit us in our everyday lives. While learning how to defend yourself and your family is the most obvious (and possibly most valuable) benefit, there is an invaluable by-product of martial arts that needs some recognition as well—the Kata.
You’ve probably seen it performed in many martial arts movies (think Bruce Lee punching the air before he fights his opponents) and thought that it was some mystical pre-fight ritual only used by martial artists. However, learning form can benefit even the non-marital artist as well.
The Purpose Of Kata
Hollywood may have given it some notoriety, but Kata is far from a movie creation. Interestingly enough, it began in the 11th century as a way for Okinawan warriors to pass their information about fighting on to the next generation. It is also used as a technique to sharpen your skill and prepare yourself for a combative situation, should it arise. Techniques used during modern day Katas are a way for modern day martial artists to connect with those that went before them.
Performing Kata requires the practitioner to visualize an opponent or combatant was standing in front of them. You will execute punches from various angles and stances with precision and power. Perfecting Kata can take a lifetime and requires extreme focus and dedication.
Don’t Train In A Martial Art?
It’s pretty easy to see how Kata can help a traditional martial artist, but what if you don’t train in a martial art? Yes, Kata can benefit you too. You may not become a skilled combatant, but think about what it is and how you become proficient in it.
- Dedication– Anything that demands such adherence to master undoubtedly requires incredible levels of commitment and focus. This can carry over into other aspects of your life. It may be becoming a better employee, family man, or friend. You will certainly kick-start your self-growth and personal development.
- Physical Fitness– You won’t find too many grossly out of shape men performing Katas. Kata can be modified to cause significant isometric contractions in your muscles. They can also be performed for quite a long time, increasing your overall endurance. Focus on your mind-muscle connection and concentrate on your breathing.
- Spirituality– Martial artists may use Kata as a way to reflect on the practitioners who went before them. You might use this as a time of self-reflection and self-evaluation. A time to reconnect with yourself and not be bothered by phones, alarms, or other outside distractions.
- Confidence– Martial artists performing form in a group need to be confident in their ability. Let’s face it, no one wants to be the only person messing up the movements. The same applies to performing it by yourself.
As you become more proficient, your confidence in yourself will also increase. Imagine performing a perfectly executed Kata in your office during a lunch break. Your self-confidence will become palpable to your coworkers.
Kata is much more than a warm-up before martial arts class. It is an important aspect of martial arts history and a legitimate technique to improve your chances of successfully applying your art in a combative situation. Martial artist or not, every man can improve their life with Kata.
If you think that Kata can benefit your life or you’re just interested in learning more, one of the best demonstrations and explanations of Kata can be found here.
James Kearns is a freelance writer, martial artist and fitness fanatic. He got his break writing for Breaking Muscle in 2014 and is regularly featured in leading fitness magazines, blogs and journals.