The article below has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe that an informed readership with knowledge of the history, techniques and philosophy of aikido is essential to the growth of the art and its adherence to the principles espoused by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.
Non-aikidoka are often confused when I talk about kata in aikido — “You mean like what they do in karate?” Even most aikidoka are aware of kata only as a term referring to form as opposed to application, or in reference to Saito Sensei’s solo or paired weapons training sequences. Morihei Ueshiba apparently did not approve of the kata training method, believing that “static” prearrangement of techniques interfered with the direct, spontaneous transmission of techniques from the gods. Thus, in most styles of aikido, kata as a set of prearranged techniques is not used as the primary training method. Kenji Tomiki, like his master Jigoro Kano before him, felt that kata was a valuable teaching tool and incorporated it into his system. Today, most Tomiki practitioners could tell you that a kata is a set of techniques practiced with a partner for teaching the basic principles of various aspects of Tomiki aikido.
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