Used in the martial arts
sense, kata translates to "form." It is the basis for Goju-Ryu karate
. The kata
s are used as training to combine movements with strikes, blocks, grabs, and take-downs.
At a black belt level of karate, the karateka should be able to attain a state of zanshin, which is essentially a state of total awareness, yet total concentration on the task at hand. Practicing attaining this state will help the student maintain technique and concentration in a variety of demanding circumstances in battle.
Done correctly, kata can be used to attain a higher understanding of the moves being performed, and alternate uses of the moves will suddenly become apparent.
In fact, during Japan's military occupation of Okinawa, the peasants were not allowed to have weapons or practice martial arts of any kind. They disguised their karate techniques inside kata. This is why even a high level karateka can find moves hidden within their own kata after years of practice.