Kata is a pre‐arranged sequence of movements comprising of various hand and foot techniques. It is an imaginary fight sequence with attackers from all four directions. By practising the Kata, the student improves speed and power in his techniques and co‐ordination in his movements. Basic Katas are very simple. But they get more complex as the student advances in the belt grade.
“The practice of kata is the culmination of a practitioner’s individual training. A significant advantage of kata is that techniques can be practiced full force without the risk of injuring partners. Kata practice also develops fighting spirit and fighting rhythms. It simulates an actual fighting situation because it allows the practitioner to feel and experience the coordinated movements at full speed and full power without having to “pull” the technique to avoid injuring one’s training partner. There are many techniques in kata that are simply too dangerous to practice with another person. Another advantage is that one can practice kata alone when partners are not available.
A key idea when performing kata is to imagine that one is actually fighting one or more opponents as the kata is executed. This visualization transforms the kata from a series of strictly mechanical movements into a meaningful and realistic training aid. One of the highest compliments one can receive after performing a kata is that it looked like an actual fight. This is the goal to strive for in kata practice.”
From Karate-do Foundations, by Mark Moeller