From well started in our walk along the path of Karate, We learned to relate the KATA concept to the FORM meaning, understanding such definition as a set of pre-established technical movements that carried out in a certain provision, interpret the battle before one or more imaginary opponents.
This definition, not lacking in truth, offers an a priori interpretation that can satisfy the curiosity of the initiate. Sin embargo, KATA is a concept whose breadth can be transposed into various experiences of our day to day.
KATA is order. We have commented on the preset movements. So is, since improvisation is not contemplated in traditional Japanese culture. This is the order that we can glimpse, without looking away at the beauty that the same procedure and its established ordination entail.
KATA is feeling. Expressing with our actions what we internalize is to open the door of the internal self so that others can enjoy what has developed in the mind and heart of the executor.
KATA is good to do. Mixing order and feeling results in a beautiful work, at least that will be the intention of the maker; show something good that borders on excellence. Try to turn the mundane into art; ordinary.
We could add multiple definitions that reinforce the idea that I want to express, However, I think these are sufficient to understand the direction the text intends to take..
Based on the exposed references, we could well extrapolate the KATA to other arts that come to mind and that I will slightly list some as examples:
IKEBANA (flower arrangement art), where an ascending direction of its flowers and branches is looked for while they are grouped in 3 sets (heaven, earth and man) forming a scalene triangle; a ceremony performed in the strictest silence.
HIAKU (poetry art), composed of poems by 17 syllables ordered in 3 verses of 5, 7 y 5 syllables respectively that refer to a season of the year.
SHODO (calligraphy art), practiced with a brush, an inkwell and ink bar with great precision required to write in a pre-established order on each stroke.
HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT (tea ceremony) that not only takes care of the selection of a certain kind of tea, it encompasses knowledge of appropriate gestures and postures, traditional costume, phrases to use or proper way to make and drink tea, adding to purify, water on the path leading to the venue where you will then enter on your knees. All wrapped in a quiet environment that facilitates the spirit of the ceremony to unify the 5 elements: the metal of the kettle, coal wood, the land of ceramics, the fire that heats the water as the last element turned into the final goal.
KYUDO (archery art). Pay special attention to every moment and every gesture, from the material with which the bow and arrow are made, up to the required breathing mode. All this as a consequence of a repertoire of mental exercises that lead to the last 8 acting steps: open legs, fix posture, set arrow, raise arc, stretch rope, set target, release arrow and final stance.
Undoubtedly, the examples presented are about ceremonies. All of them and many more, are examples of KATAS and have common denominators where concentration integrates the body with the mind, so that the consciousness of the observing SELF, that ME that seeks perfection and how, abstract to make way for the void, shedding the end in favor of reaching non-consciousness. Stop being two opposing objects to merge into a single reality. This is how the good karate fighter becomes KATA. This is how the florist becomes a flower center, the poet in poetry, the calligrapher in kanji, the hostess in tea or the archer in white. A spiritual rather than physical exercise.
Sin embargo, The exclusivity of the KATA as we have presented it is not from the empire of the rising sun. We have it around us and we will be the ones who will have the option of transforming the everyday into art, the informal in solemnity, the usual in extraordinary.
To give an illustrative example, the process of getting up in the morning until we leave home to head to work, It could well be considered a KATA execution if every day we carry out the same guidelines and with the same procedure: get up, shave, take a shower, get dressed, have breakfast, take the keys and briefcase, leaving home.
Changing third, I speak now in the first person to express my own experiences and emotions, and equate here the KATA concept that I have ingested so much in my life as a karate fighter, with other facets that I fully enjoy.
I was born in Valencia, and my 53 years I continue loving my land, its smell of orange blossom and Mediterranean light. I love their customs and traditions, and without any intention of frivolizing, paella. To such an extent that one day I decided to learn how to make a traditional wood-fired paella. They say, that in the world of paellas, It is the most complicated to carry out and that was a challenge that invited me to create this company.
To start a KATA (I refer now to the art of karate), the soul must calm, because the movements and techniques that are carried out next will depend on it, which will express in the eye of the good understanding, your mood. The beginning of the paella requires facing with serenity the responsibility of satisfying the diners with exquisite palates, and it will be necessary to calm your interior to proceed to action.
The label is essential. Dress up your karategi well, your obi must present a correct knot, your hair clean and well groomed, your hands and feet in perfect cleanliness. This is how we will proceed with the metal container, cleansed, balanced and sweaty in olive oil, chopped meat and vegetables into suitable sizes for cooking, grated fresh pulp tomato, special rice, calcareous water in proportion 4 a 1 regarding rice, ironed culinary apron, supplies and firewood placed in the right place.
We entered the tatami and solemnly placed ourselves in the correct space so as not to interrupt the lie; in musubi dachi we will make the initial greeting. The olive oil in the container two thirds of the way from the shore. Sprinkle the rim with salt to avoid burning the container. The firewood will be ready. The short ones that turn on easy, under, and on them some thicker orange tree from which we obtain a uniform fire. It starts to burn and the oil to heat.
We start the first movements, the first techniques, a few pauses with soft breathing rhythms, like the slow and patient stir-fry of meat; vegetables that accompany after; tomato and paprika that brown the show. Other vivacious, with powerful displacements and unparalleled explosiveness that will take us to the kiai and we can release tension that will provide a moment of relief. It's time to change the flame. Introduce easy-burning wood that raises the temperature, make the introduced elements scream to get their ki. And then the water will come and silence those sounds of effusion to return to peace.
But the KATA continues, and after the short but intense kiai, another avalanche of techniques is coming. The fire flares up and the water begins to boil. Vegetables jump and saffron joins the party.
New rhythms in the KATA force to lower intensity, moderate movements and thus reduce the water level while the flavors present in the cauldron mix.
We measure our forces well so that the execution does not decline in its course and we simultaneously calculate the remaining water, allowing only a quarter of the introduced water to evaporate.
The crucial moment arrives. Everything can fall apart with a simple imbalance: the jump. If it is premature, out of time; if it slows down, lose experience. It's time to introduce the rice, that thanks to the previous calculation, it will be at the moment where eighteen minutes are left for the total consumption of the remaining liquid. Before there will be a last grain; then, raw.
At last it seems that the most complicated thing has happened. The jump came out well balanced and technically correct. Not for this reason, relaxation should appear. The rice is in its place, but we must be vigilant with the fire that must give such calorific power to adapt the flame in the first ten minutes and withdraw it gently and towards the edges in the last eight.
We reached the end of our exercise. Everything within an order and continuous attention. We only have to go back to the beginning, greet and thus close the initial open circle. We will remove the paella from the heat to let it rest for a few minutes and settle the grain better.
All this ceremony, KATA and paella, seems to have developed in a systematic and normative way. Sin embargo, in each of the steps mentioned, in every action executed, the inspiration of that moment will be together with our spirit, the guidelines that will have worked for such a great execution, so that karate fighter and kata are one; cook and paella, same thing.
And so, We will leave the tatami with the same solemnity and satisfaction that we will present our plate to those called to the table.
Now it remains to enjoy that feeling of having done things well.
This is my KATA in Valencia. What's yours?.
6º dan RFEK