Elements of Karate
It is vital for the practitioner of karate to understand the role of Kihon, Kata and Kumite training. The principles that govern these three distinct training methods are identical. Their uniqueness is found in how these principles are expressed. View the various kihon of karate as letters of the alphabet, then kata would become the words of our language and kumite then would be and is the application.
Kihon (Basics)The Japanese word “kihon” means base. Therefore, through the practice of kihon, the karate practitioner will build a solid foundation for which to build his karate upon. The benefit of kihon practice will provide the practitioner with effective and efficient biomechanichs.
The student will exert an enormous amount of effort into perfecting kihon of karate. Their pursuit requires sacrifice and commitment on a daily basis. It is the daily struggle for perfection that shapes our character. The student’s goal for perfection may be summed up by the adage, “Focus on the journey not the destination”. Thus the goal of defeating an opponent in a single decisive movement is merely a means for the refinement of our character.
Kata (Forms)Kata is a prearranged series of exact techniques fighting an imaginary opponent. In times of physical and mental stress the mind can cripple the body. Through the consistent repetition of kata the student’s movements will become natural and will not require conscious thought or effort. Consequently the student will develop a clear and composed state of mind. Tranquility of the mind allows the body to respond instantaneously to any attack and is the essence of kata training.
Kumite (Sparring)Kumite is the application of techniques with a partner. Kumite training that is appropriate and systematic will benefit the student beyond the obvious. Kumite is progressive in the sense that the student is guided through a series of drills that will be challenging mentally and physically at their level. Systematically the student will develop the tools required to make effective and efficient self defense through their diligent efforts.
Regrettably the fundamental purpose of kumite training is often misunderstood. There is a tendency among many in karate to make kumite competitive. The instructor of karate must be steadfast in their resolve to properly educate their students.