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Learning a Long Kata (Yara Kusanku)

I am teaching a student the Yara Kusanku kata. I believe that it is the longest kata in our system -- so there are a lot of movements to learn.  I would say that it might take a student about one month to learn the kata.  I had one student who learned the kata in just a day or two -- but I think she practically has a photographic memory.

Anyway, as I was going over the kata with the student today -- and it seemed like such a long kata -- I said, "Learning the movements and sequence of the kata is only one percent (1%). Learning how to do the kata well is the other ninety-nine percent (99%)."

I added that anyone can learn a kata.  A kata has almost no value in and of itself.  Learning a certain kata does not make you better at Karate.  Being able to perform a kata well (with good body dynamics and power and with a good understanding of the meaning and applications of the movements) makes you better at Karate.

I added that many people know advanced kata and do them terribly.  So what!  Knowing an "advanced" kata does not make you advanced.  An advanced person can perform a "basic" kata and make it look extraordinary.  An unskilled person can perform an "advanced" kata and make it look horrible.  Actually, the hardest thing is to perform a "simple" kata well -- because there is no place to hide (as Robert "Snaggy" Inouye used to say).

Learning the movements and sequence of a kata is like tracing a picture, something any child could do.  Now take that tracing, color it, add dimensions, and turn it into a living, breathing thing!  Animate your kata.

Kata are not simply things to collect.  If you become better at one kata, your overall Karate skill should increase.  Each kata interacts in some way with all the others.

Yara Kusanku is an excellent kata.  However, I feel that Rohai, Passai, and Chinto best capture the feeling of our particular style.  Rohai and Chinto are frightening and Passai is beautiful.

"Learning the movements and sequence of the kata is only one percent (1%). Learning how to do the kata well is the other ninety-nine percent (99%)."

Respectfully,

Charles C. Goodin