We can safely say that the kata is not only the soul of the traditional martial arts, and in this presentation, the soul of karate. But it is also much more than that. It is the language of the martial arts. In karate, each kata is, in a way, a letter in the karate alphabet and one must learn this alphabet before one can build words. The language is simple and direct to the point, the grammar a little more difficult. When one had passed and graduated from alphabet making, the words, vocabulary appears elementary.
In kumite the main focus is to score points and there is no training at all against attacks made by weapons. In kata, the mechanism is to practice defence against all types of attack, weapons or otherwise. The training program in kata is similar to that of weight training, where one creates an “overload” and then one increases the intensity, duration and frequency to further progress.
It is only when one no longer thinks about each succeeding movement that he can begin to apply the next stage of training, knowing when to “kime” or focus. The muscles of the body are used to guide limbs toward its intended target and at a certain point, the muscles are contracted, stopping them motion in an instant and allowing the kinetic energy to be transferred into the target.– The actual thrusting power, which propels the arm or leg, is generated by the strong torquing action of the hips. This is a summation of joint forces — a kime. The rotation of body segments gets the most of each joint resulting in a kime or focus. The tightening and relaxing of the correct muscles takes a tremendous amount of concentration and only in the kata can one learn to control his body to respond to his wishes and also exercise the same control over his breathing. This is when the value of the kiai is realized.—The Kiai helps to maximize body tension at the moment of impact. When the movements of a kata become so familiar that the kata can be practiced without hesitation or thinking, the mental relationship to both the body and the kinetic pattern will be released and a deep meditative awareness will develop. — A mind-body awareness will be absorbed. An energy pattern will result in a controlled concentration. Past studies have shown that practitioners of Zen and Yoga display an alpha wave (these waves are steady fluctuations reflecting electrical activity of the brain with a frequency of 8-13 cycles per second) activity during periods of meditation. A kata expert develops the alpha wave state in an active, or potentially active state. He is highly tuned to the totality of his surroundings — a radical awakening and directional awareness occurs. – R. Kim