Do you practice your kata and often wonder what the real meanings are behind the form? It is general practice in most dojo to learn one kata form, pass a grading then learn another kata. This is probably due to competition sport oriented training where the emphasis leans more to kumite sparring and a perfect performed kata form.
A long time ago, before karate was introduced into the school systems and certainly before karate obtained a sport side, training was solely kata based. The karate kata were passed from teacher to student along with the bunkai which are the methods and principles of a complete self defense system. The kata would contain everything we require to effectively defend ourselves within a civilian environment.
Karate kata were basically a physical model of an effective fighters methods and principles. A way of recording the creators fighting systems. Unfortunately, with the way karate progressed from the 1900's onwards, most of these methods and principles went to the grave along with the kata’s creators.
Today, by reverse engineering kata, we can try to gain an understanding of the fighting system that the creator wanted to record. When performing kata we need to develop our visualization skills and concentrate on the transition of movement rather than the perfect finished technique. An alternative opinion would be to look at kata as a collection of methods and principles rather than techniques.