Kyoshi's Technique of the Week

August 7th, 2017

This weeks technique is submitted by Barnes Sensei, Denshi/Shihan, Ueshiro Bushi Dojo, Santa Monica, CA:

PERFORMANCE OF KATA

Onegaishimasu Hanshi, Kyoshi, Shihan, Sensei, Denshi-

KATA IS THE SOUL OF UESHIRO SHORIN-RYU KARATE.
Nagamine Sensei bred this philosophy in the Matsubayashi Hombu Dojo in Okinawa where Master Ueshiro trained and was chosen to bring our style to the Unites States of America where he handed this organization firmly in the grip of Hanshi Robert Scaglione. We devotees have garnered the spiritual bliss, the physical ecstasy, and the life saving techniques as a result of this wisdom.

Practice of the basic movements enables the student to achieve a natural, beautiful, swift, stable, and powerful “performance of kata”. Shoshin Nagamine . Essence of Okinawan Karate –Do. Page 57.

We learn Kata, we train Kata, we bunkai Kata, and we demonstrate Kata.
This TOTW is focused solely on “Performance of Kata.” I am speaking about solo, on the spot, in front of observing Deshi and or guest, even more specifically about when testing for rank, and the “Performance of Kata.”

Over the past several years as a Denshi/Shihan, Shichi-Dan Sensei, I have sat on the board of judges for hours watching the Performance of Kata. Many performances are marred by Deshi struggling both mentally and physically with the Kata. We all understand. But it is truly a self-imposed struggle. We are trying to attain a natural, beautiful, swift, stable, and powerful “performance of kata”, not an exhausted mind twisting recall of moves and directions of movement. We don’t want to witness anyone wishing the horror and their time on the spot would end. We want all Deshi to experience the joy and vigor kata brings. Master Nagamine ends Essence of Shorin-Ryu Karate in his afterword by the saying “The fusing of mind and body in karate is indescribably beautiful and spiritual. The flow of the mind, when totally absorbed during Kata practice, brings a person into total contact with the essence and core of his being. One is both humbled and uplifted by this knowledge of self.

I have studied Kata performance many years with all of the seasoned instructors we are all so fortunate to have in Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA. The performance instruction is the same in theatre as in Karate, “the fusing of the mind and body, attained through breathing and movement and becoming one with the performance. Both Hanshi and legendary acting instructor, Stella Adler will instruct: you have done all the training and repetition for your performance at hand. When called " on the spot" to perform, there’s nothing you can remember/think into action, you can only let go and allow the Kata to move from within, the Kata is actually taking you through the movement rather than one thinking and muscling each next move and remembering where to place feet, where do I turn next…I’m exhausted just typing that process.

Kata is Life.

Hanshi always has said, "you’ve done the work, now let the Kata be revealed." Any other process can only lead to the mental and physical struggle, loss of breath and bodily water retention, the death march we so often see.

We go back to the words of Master Ueshiro while instructing on the Okinawan deck, “Kata is a well organized series of movement techniques whose single components can be considered in principle to be a defensive technique with inhalation followed by an offensive technique with exhalation”, that is the foundation of the kata and from there we breath life, fluidity and spiritual grace into the free flowing movement that moves oneself and all who witness the Joy & Vigor of Kata.

Master Nagamine writes: “By making Kata central to training, one can pursue Karate-do not only as budo, but as a way of life. The beauty and spirit of Kata offers much to those who practice it.”(p 102)

For us it is the fusing of mind and body, “allowing” the spirit of Kata to reveal and deliver the natural, beautiful, swift, stable, and powerful “Performance of Kata.”

Domo Arigato Gozaimasu,
Barnes Sensei, Shichi-Dan
Denshi/Shihan Ueshiro Bushi Dojo

Under the Direction of Hanshi Robert Scaglione