Generically speaking, I would suggest that traditional karate is based on the effective management of the transition between two body states - relaxation (softness) and contraction (hardness). Like In (Yin) and Yo (Yang), practitioners should aim for these two complementary opposites to be harmoniously integrated together, as what often may look very hard on the outside, is usually found to be supported by softness and suppleness on the inside.
Kata serve as an opportunity to develop the two essential qualities above and to build a greater sense of awareness for the transitional periods of space and time found between them. For it is these transitions that hold real potential.
Following a number of requests from my social media friends, I've put together the following video clip that shows some footage from my closed dojo here in the UK. In this particular session we focussed on multi-dimensional dynamics and how your individual performance of kata should naturally adapt as your particular areas of focus change during your study. Although it's important to have a baseline for performing kata, I also actively encourage my closed dojo members to 'step off the path' a little and consider other ideas, concepts and principles.
Here, we're exploring one of these avenues and in particular, how combining different planes of body movement may affect functional output. Many karate practitioners tend to focus almost entirely on the hip area and emphasise only the rotational aspects of the human structure. It is also very common in more contemporary styles to produce very linear movements that rely exclusively on a 'contracted' state to produce power. In actual fact, the body can be articulated in numerous ways and by combining multi-dimensional dynamics with an efficient transition between relaxation and contraction, I believe that we can come to understand the kata further.
Anyway, hope you enjoy the clip and thanks for all your ongoing support and encouragement - it's always hugely appreciated!
Chris Denwood has been studying martial arts since childhood and specialises in the practical application of karate's traditional principles for civilian self-defence, personal development, life integration and discovery.