The Karate Onion

When I walked into the Dojo on Thursday night and saw Sensei Lee wearing his reading glasses and reading intently I knew we were in for some serious Karate teaching. He was reading from the book of Karate that he has compiled over his 40 years of training. His book is one of his prized possessions as it contains a plethora of everything Karate, including teachings passed on to him personally by Nishiyama Sensei, Tsuruoka Sensei and Katsumata Sensei.

Sensei LeeOn this night he had been going over his notes on the four dimensions of Kata: Dynamics, Form, Power and Transition, and it was time to pass these on to us.

For over an hour we studied Bassai Dai kata, where we looked at each of these principles. Sensei Lee used Bassia Dai to bring to life for us an understanding of each of these four elements of karate Kata, and he did so through the movements in the Kata as well as through Bunkai (Applications).With four words he opened up a world of Kata study, each in their own right worthy of deep study.

(Above: Sensei Lee)

·         Dynamics – The study of movement of the human body

·         Form – The shape and adeptness of your techniques including stances

·         Power – Power generation through understanding movement and focus

·         Transition – The space and time between techniques

Sensei Lee suggested that even as Black Belts we should now go back to the beginning (Heian Shodan) and start to see our Kata in the light of these four elements.

I went away from this class with two important thoughts in mind. First, we have a Sensei whose teaching ability matches his excellent Karate, and second, Karate is an onion: layered with new possibilities… truly a lifelong learning experience. You can’t beat that…