I’m happy to announce that I have added a small contribution to issue #11 of the highly esteemed Bugeisha magazine. Angel Lemus Sensei was kind enough to include my article entitled “How to Evolve with Your Kata”.

As often happens with my work, this is a somewhat meandering investigation of a slippery concept. I’ve frequently wrestled with the conflicting notions of preserving kata exactly as they are handed down, and exploring them deeply which inherently involves pulling, poking, prodding, and otherwise mucking about with the form.

Here is a little snippet of the article, and I hope it encourages you to pick up a copy of the magazine!


How to Evolve with Your Kata

What’s your elevator pitch describing the value of kata?

Here’s an attempt:

Kata is a solitary physical practice that stretches the muscles, promotes healthful breathing, develops balance, and organizes the body. It is an activity that creates mental focus, triggers stress reduction, and exercises martial intent in a safe environment while inviting cultural awareness and a deeper contemplation of the self.

Even with that broad swing we fall a bit short. Is it possible to encapsulate a cultural heirloom that has literally saved lives over generations? These forms are treated with reverence and care and are often guarded like treasures. That’s why it can be so difficult to ask: should kata ever change?

Most martial artists debate this internally as they repeat their forms over and over, year after year. They have ideas or difficulties that tempt them to tweak their execution, but are pulled back by tradition.

For anyone who’s found themselves in this predicament (and I certainly hope you have), consider the following a little food for thought.

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