Kata Lab # 3210 – Kata To Modify Emotions

6 Oct

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October 22, 2014: UPDATE: I filmed a video to assist you with this lab. It was filmed in the stunning scenery of the Lower Salt River, Arizona and a New Jersey snow storm. Enjoy

–   –   –   * * * * * –   –   –   –

Je pense que donc je suis. (I think therefore I am)  -Jean Paul Sartre


Welcome to this installment in my Kata Laboratory Series, Kata Lab # 2130: Kata As An Emotional Modifier” ©


Our emotions are the most identifiable aspect of our spiritual state of being. Daily events routinely shape and alter our emotions. We can also directly modify our emotions from within.

Most of us seek to suppress negative emotions in the hopes that a positive emotional state will manifest. This kata lab uses kata to modify emotions, not by repressing them, but by acknowledging and expelling them so as to embrace a more positive emotional state.

Kata is uniquely capable of serving as an emotional modifier. The bunkai (analysis) of this phenomenon of kata is a foundation for understanding the spiritual aspect of kata. (See Endnote # 1) This edition of the kata laboratory utilizes my kata deconstruction procedure explained in Kata Laboratory # 2130 to explore how kata can modify our emotional state. It is therefore necessary for you to be familiar with the kata deconstruction procedure. There is a link to the article provided above and a video below.

I submit that certain kata, due to their essential qualities, are natural emotional modifiers. Examples of such kata include, but are not limited to, my Sacred Trinity of Kata (Sanchin, Seienchin, and Suparunpei), Hakutsuru, Gekisai, Kanto and others. All kata; however can be utilized to modify emotions. See Endnote # 2) The kata deconstruction technique provides an excellent platform upon which to construct bunkai (analysis) of the spiritual aspect of any kata.

Once you begin to understand the manner in which kata modifies emotions, you open the door to understanding the spiritual nature of kata. Emotions functions as the gateway to understanding this spiritual state.

I have created two types of emotional deconstruction techniques, the “General Emotional Deconstruction “ and the “Targeted Emotional Deconstruction.”

The general method is very basic. In my experience, I find that while this method is fun, it is extremely fundamental. As such, I have relegated the exact methodology of this procedure to Endnote # 3.

The Targeted Emotional Deconstruction is more difficult and requires more advance preparation than the general method; however, the benefits of performing this deconstruction protocol are profound.

In this type of deconstruction you start with an emotion, and progress through the kata deconstruction so as to end with the opposite of that emotion. The emotion you commence with would be representative of your emotional state at the time of practice. For example, assume that you have had a difficult day and are aggravated. To start the procedure, you would take the state of aggravation and expand it to its highest emotional state. In the example shown below, this state may be represented by an emotional state of fury. This step is crucial in so far as it does not repress your negative emotional state; rather it, acknowledges and expands it. This allows you to fully acknowledge the emotion so as to ultimately dispel it.

You would then identify the opposite of this state so as to target the desired ending emotional state. In this example, tranquility would represent a desired state opposite to the state of fury. You then deconstruct the kata so as to work your way through the range of emotions between fury and tranquility. The table below provides an example using the eight sequences shown in the deconstruction of Gekisai kata.


Targeted Emotional Deconstruction  – using the state of aggravation as the existing emotional state, the following example starts with the emotion of fury and ends with the emotion of tranquility. The chart below uses the eight sequences of Gekisai Kata identified in the video example.

1 Fury
2 Aggressiveness
3 Anger
4 Aggravation
5 Slow Burn
6 Calm
7 Placid
8 Tranquil

As you gain proficiency in this technique, you no longer have to perform the kata as deconstructed. Eventually, you can perform the kata within the traditional pattern and express the various emotions as you do so.

Kata Laboratory (Recommended Reader Experimentation):

The following is my procedure to utilize my kata deconstruction procedure to modify your emotional state. The within allows you to begin to experience kata not as a physical endeavor, but as a spiritual art. Using the table above as a guide,

1. Identify either your current emotional state or choose an emotion you wish to explore. Using the Gekisai example, let us use “aggravation” as such an emotional state;

2. Identify the extreme manifestation of that emotional state. Again using the Gekisai example and the state of “aggravation”, the extreme state might be “fury”;

3. Identify the extreme opposite emotional state. In the example, this state may be a state of “tranquility”;

4. Based upon the number of sequences in the kata you wish to perform, identify the same number of transitional emotional states between the two opposite states. In the Gekisai example, the above table shows these states;

5. Now, perform your kata, deconstructing each sequence. As you progress through the sequences, perform each sequence so as to symbolize each emotional state. To the casual observer, your emotional state associated with each sequence should be readily apparent in the manner in which you perform the sequence.

6. Repeat as often as you like, experimenting with differing emotions and different kata to see how kata affects your emotions.

Here is a video to assist you with your experiment in using kata to modify emotions


Using my kata deconstruction method to explore the manner in which kata can modify your emotions has direct, positive and tangible effects. It also has intangible benefits awaiting your discovery.

  • you can use kata to modify negative emotions when they creep into your life;
  • you can increase the health effects of positive emotions by increasing them through your kata practice;
  • you recognize the effect your emotional state has on your physical self;
  • you begin to understand how emotions affect your overall state of being;
  • your understanding of the above acs as a foundation for your continued exploration into your spiritual state of being.
  • most importantly, you begin to practice kata bunkai (analysis) in both the physical state and the spiritual state.

Please remember, the mandate of the kata laboratory is




Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque (With the privilege and permission of the superiors)

Sensei John Szmitkowski

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1. Please remember:

First, the spiritual bunkai of kata does not refer to religious, or supernatural states. Rather, spiritual bunkai refers to the method by which kata affects internal non-physical process which include, but are not limited to emotions, states-of-mind (mushin, zanshin, nenjuushin and the likes) and internal states of awareness.

Second, exploring the spiritual bunkai of kata is markedly different from exploring the physical bunkai of kata. One area of divergence is that physical bunkai always requires a partner whereas spiritual bunkai need not require a partner, but always requires visualization.

2. If you fully understand the three states of kata, namely, the physical, spiritual and metaphysical states, then you can readily understand how any kata can modify emotions. For example, the translation of the kanji for the Gekisai Kata in our example can demonstrate the three states. Gekisai translates as “To destroy”. Applying this to the three states we see that:

physical state – to destroy your opponent in battle;

spiritual state – to destroy your own negative mental and emotional states;

environmental state – to destroy your preconception that you exist independent of your external environment.

Each and every time you perform Gekisai (or any other kata) you are simultaneously present in each of the above three states.

3. The General Emotional Deconstruction is performed as follows:

General Emotional deconstruction)

using kata deconstruction technique:

  • start with an emotion
  • perform the first sequence so as to emulate and reflect that emotion
  • after the sequence, walk a few steps in any direction, as you walk, be “mindful” of different emotion,
  • perform the next sequence so as to emulate and reflect that emotion
  • repeat until the kata is complete
  • Example:

General Emotional Deconstruction  – the following example illustrates the wide variety of emotions that can be used in the deconstruction process. The emotional range is limited only by the imagination of the performer.

The chart below uses the eight sequences of Gekisai Kata identified in the video example.

Sequence # Emotion
1 normal emotion
2 caution
3 trepidation
4 anger
5 serenity
6 seriousness
7 giddiness
8 serenity


2 Responses to “Kata Lab # 3210 – Kata To Modify Emotions”


  1. Do NOT Perfect Your Kata | Kata-RX For wellness - February 8, 2023

    […] or emotional state. In fact, I submit you should use kata to modify your dilatory emotional state https://senseijohn.me/2013/10/06/kata-lab-221-kata-as-an-emotional-modifier/ You can excel at kata in any physical environment, terrain or climate. By doing so, you will […]

  2. Do Away With Kata Formalities – Part 1 | Kata-RX For wellness - February 8, 2023

    […] on this topic, you may see how kata can be used to modify your emotions using this link and video.https://senseijohn.me/2013/10/06/kata-lab-221-kata-as-an-emotional-modifier/   here is the accompanying […]

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