About the Kata of Karate…
By Mitani Kazuya (edited by Bob McMahon)
There is big misapprehension in foreign countries that Japanese people study a large number of kata. Perhaps a few did a long time ago but our seniors (sempai) were happy to study just two or three. It is not useful to learn a great number of kata. Kata is not technology (waza) but a style (yoshiki). It is not the style but the technology of fighting that is useful to us. Technology is in a style but the style itself is not technology.
Thus the great difference in the relationship between a style and technology is not usually known. Traditional karate differs greatly from other karate at this point. Although nobody knows it, this is the difference between Shurite and other karate.
There are very few kata that relate to kumite. The only karate kata that I teach my students are Naifanchi Shodan and Pinan Nidan. I use the technology from these kata in kumite competition.
Pinan Nidan is the simplest kata. It is the stepping punch (oi-zuki) and the correct timing and proper distance (maniau) that I teach from Pinan Nidan. The stepping punch is delivered before the foot lands. It is the method of putting weight into a punch.
There is no oi-zuki in the kumite lesson from Naifanchi. One of the features is not switching the body. It is “ushiro-te sabaki maete-zuki” that is demonstrated. It means that kizami-zuki is carried out, by defending with the rear hand. This is difficult waza in a kumite tournament. Therefore, I only teach this to experienced adult competitors.
I teach neither sanbon kumite nor ippon kumite. I do not teach ido kihon either. This kihon is for kata, not for karate. I think it is a big mistake and will not lead to understanding karate. I carry out the methods for practicing original karate. Karate practice methods are not about learning kata. Karate practices fighting techniques by using a makiwara. This is the difference between true karate and other karate. The “10 teachings of Itosu” is our textbook.