Is Karate Mysterious? Are there “Hidden Secrets” revealed only by Karate Masters?
The answer is “No” and “Yes”. There are dozens of techniques to be learned, but when explained and demonstrated by the Instructors each seems simple. It is not hard to practice a technique and become faster and more powerful with it as the weeks pass. If karate had been developed as a sport (like boxing) or even as combat against a single serious opponent (as in the Roman gladiatorial arena) that might be enough.
But karate was developed for a desperate fight against odds. The opponent was armed, or much bigger, or there were several opponents. How will you train for such impossible situations?
The answer is “Kata.” The secrets of karate are hidden in these beautiful compositions of lethal movement- the five Pinan, the three Naifunchi,Bassai-Dai, Sanchin, and many others. Most of them are several centuries old; all are the works of Okinawa.
Like other classic works of art, the real karateka learns and practices kata with respect. Kata can be done alone or in a group and they cannot be repeated too often. Even after thousands of repetitions, the karateka keeps discovering new things in them: facts about attacking and retreating, turning and weight-shifting, balance, stance, breathing, the rhythms of speed and power, the problems of concentration and relaxation. These are the many aspects of serious combat which are the real “secrets.”
New Kata are taught at each belt level, and they become increasingly complex and interesting. Kata performance is one of the main criteria for promotion. More advanced students are strictly forbidden to teach their Kata to the less advanced.