Kata's are sequences of movements for offence and defence applied against the simultaneous attack of more than one opponent. Simply put, Kata's are various techniques and combinations which have been arranged in a series to help the students learn them. The movements are rationally and systematically combined. In this way, students can, even on their own, master the art of parrying.
The practise of Kata's is similar to shadow boxing in that when it is practised solo, it is performed against imaginary opponents. However where it differs is that each kata is a series of fundamental movements carried out according to a pattern which makes up a fixed routine. They represent both a compilation of fight controls, as well as a model for combinations.
In Ashihara Karate it is referred to as controlled technique Kata. Controlled technique kata has been devised to help explain the idea behind Ashihara Karate Sabaki techniques. The Kata prepares one for real fight situations and are unique to Ashihara Karate.
There are five Kata types: Beginner's (Shoshinsha), Basic (Kihon), Throwing (Nage), Sparring (Kumite) and Real Fight (Jissen).
Shoshinsha No Kata (Beginners Form of which there are 3) In this set, emphasis is placed on stepping back, judging distance and nagashi type parrying.
Kihon no Kata (Basic form of which there are 3) In this set, emphasis is placed on stepping out. Here the concepts of Irimi (entering or weave in) and Kyushu (absorbing) is put into practice.
Kumite No Kata (Sparring Form of which there are 5) In this set, emphasis is placed on Full Contact type sparring techniques. The first two forms stresses short distance, the next two middle distance and in the last a long distance approach is taken .
Nage No Kata (Throwing Form of which there are 3) This set emphasises throwing technique and footwork. The two primary throws are Maki Komi Nage (Forward Rolling Throw) and Ura Nage (Back Throw). Most of the movements here are circular in approach and movements are done in a very small circle, i.e. confined space.
Jissen No Kata (Real Fight - 1) This is a kata which is performed at a faster pace than say Kihon or Shoshinsha. Multiple techniques are done at a fast pace. Jissen also means Extreme fighting, so the performance is "to the death"
Kancho Hideyuki Ashihara prior to his death was working on three other sets of Kata - Goshin (Self Defence), Weapons and Circular. Regrettably these were never completed.
Each kata type is divided into 10 units: no. 1 is the stance; no's. 2 - 9 each consist of different control technique for different attacks and no. 10 is the finishing off technique.
These kata should be practised until the actions and reactions become reflex.
In order to save time, the student should learn the Katas at home with the help of the kata guide. Not only will this save valuable time but the student will gain a better understanding by trying on his/her own.
The time spent on kata training in the dojo will be much more productive, if it is spent making small corrections and adjustments rather than starting from scratch.