“Kata is the soul of Karate.”
This is a traditional saying in Okinawa, the birthplace of Karate.
Unfortunately, many people don’t get it.
They use kata as mere physical exercise.
That’s fine – but also heartbreaking.
Because there’s so MUCH MORE to kata!
In my opinion, nothing bridges the gap between self-protection & self-perfection better than kata.
Kata is an incredible tool for developing yourself as a human being.
But only if you know how to use it right.
Let me explain…
First of all, you should know that every human being has two realities:
- Your inner reality.
- Your outer reality.
Your inner reality consists of your thoughts, expectations and feelings. These are the things you have inside your head.
Your outer reality consists of external events, like people, actions and things. This is the stuff that happens around you.
Rarely do these two match perfectly in daily life.
- You expect it to be sunny, but it rains.
- You hope for a salary increase, but you don’t get it.
- You think someone likes you, but she never calls you back.
The list goes on.
Your inner/outer world is constantly in a state of micro-conflict.
Scientists call it ‘cognitive dissonance’ – when expectations don’t match reality.
Here’s the fascinating thing…
The way you react to these conflicts determine your character.
And, as you know, the aim of Karate is to seek perfection of character.
So, maybe there’s a way to harmonize your inner and outer reality through Karate?
Of course there is.
In fact, the answer is found in the very “soul of Karate”.
Check this out:
Visualize yourself performing a kata in your mind.
It can be any kata, it doesn’t matter which one. The important thing is that you visualize yourself doing the kata completely. And it must be done perfectly.
You heard me. Imagine yourself doing a perfect kata!
Now, the next step is to perform it.
I want you to physically reproduce EXACTLY what you imagined.
“But… Jesse-san, that’s impossible! I can’t do a perfect kata!”
The kata will NEVER be as perfect as in your head.
Why do you expect everyhing else to be?
Life isn’t perfect, amigo.
It will NEVER be.
And practicing kata like this, helps you deal with this fact!
You see, we often create unrealistic expectations and scenarios in our heads, by wishing for a outer reality that rarely matches up with our inner reality.
This is why we judge other people based on their actions, but we judge ourselves based on our intentions.
Think about that.
Kata can bridge the gap between your inner and outer world.
It can help you cope with reality.
By visualizing the perfect kata, and then striving to reach that ideal, you gradually align your expectations with reality, harmonizing your intentions with your actions.
This is how kata goes from a mere physical exercise to a metaphysical exercise.
The more you practice this, the better you become.
One day you might even be able to perform the perfect kata!
But probably not.
And that’s the whole point.
There is no such thing as “the perfect kata”.
Just like life.
Paradoxically enough, the day you understand this is the day you might actually be able to perform a perfect kata.
But at that point, it won’t even matter to you anymore – because perfection is no longer the goal…
…striving for it is.
The journey becomes the destination.
The goal becomes the Way.