How to Discover The Purpose of Your Kata

A poem inspired by Billy Collins

Introduction to Kata and Bunkai

Torture devices
Torture devices (Credit: Peter Bechthold)

I ask them to take a kata
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a kata
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the kata’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a kata
waving at the shihan’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the kata to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Coerced confessions are notoriously unreliable. Try seduction instead.


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