Itâ€™s taken me more than a few years to realize that the best Karate masters move so well, not because they have learn the moves themselves but instead because their Karate comes from their heart.
For example, if you take a gymnast or a dancer, you can easily show them the moves to even the most complex Shotokan katas and they will do them well because of their athleticism and grace. They will have balance and flexibility, their moves will be strong and fluid but something very important will be missing.
When you watch a true Karate master you will see and feel something extra that you just cannot duplicate by only doing the movements. The master has intention, their entire body and mind is in the moment and they know that each and every move they do will be effective. They see the attacker in their mind and they handle them accordingly even though they are punching and kicking on the air.
This intention and purpose cannot be seen when someone who is only doing the moves. There is something extra that master brings with them that you can feel. You may not be able to describe it but know when it happens. It is like watching a movie with many different climaxes that draws you in to point where you do not want to blink because you might miss something.
When the master does kata, there is only him or her and their opponent in that place even though there could be hundreds of people watching. If the building was to fall down around them, they would finish doing their kata.
The look in the eyes of the master is piercing like a sharp knife and that same look would stop most attackers or freeze them before the masters even move. Their mind is in the moment and only that moment, executing every move with precision, knowing that if they fail it could be injury or worse.
Even after the kata is over, the master is still in the moment knowing that there could be more attackers or threats and they will stay there until they feel safe whereas someone doing the moves would just stand up and walk away.
If you have time, watch the video below of Naka Sensei doing Nijushiho. Even though it is a video, you can see many of the things that I mentioned above by watching him.
Next time you watch someone do a kata or even a single technique look to see if they do it from their heart or if they are just doing the moves and leave me a comment below because I would like to hear about what you saw or felt.