Kata – Don’t Get too Bogged Down

Kata, Monk, Zen, Boat, Karate, Kobudo, Vancouver, BC. Martial Arts, Lessons,

Kata is often referred to as the heart of Karate-do and Kobudo. Many teachers will go so far as to say that if there is no kata, then there is no Karate-do or Kobudo.

For me. kata is like constructing a building. When you construct a building you put up scaffolding, but when construction is finished you remove it. You don’t keep it up, because it would stop people from using the building for the purpose that it was built for. Similarly, when you cross a river, you need a boat to get to the other side, but once there you discard the boat ; you do not carry it with you.

Therefore we can think of the scaffolding and the boat as kata, which encompass the techniques, and teaching method of Karate-do and Kobudo. In the end, they disappear and become part of you. However, you do not destroy them. That would be quite selfish as others need the scaffolding or boat to build their own building or to cross the river. Similarly, kata is passed on to the next generation to teach them the proper way to train both mentally and physically.

Yet, too many teachers and students become overly obsessed with kata and become so attached to it that they cannot let go. If you’re one of those people, you might want to bear in mind the old Zen tale of the two monks and the woman and try and loosen your grip a little.

The Muddy Road

Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.’Come on, girl,’ said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.
Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. ‘We monks don’t go near females.’ He told Tanzan, especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?’
‘I left the girl there,’ said Tanzan. ‘Are you still carrying her?’

From the book: ‘Zen Flesh, Zen Bones’