The traditional schools of jiujitsu mainly practised kata, but Jigoro Kano (1860 ), the founder of judo, insisted that the study of judo must consist of both Randori (free practice) and Kata (prearranged movements) , he considered that only doing randori limited the study of principles, and only doing kata was insuficient to to train for unexpected attacks.
The kata practise develops the ability to execute techniques and movements in a natural, reflex-like manner. The systematic and repetitive manner helps to internalize the movements so they can be executed without thougt or hesitation.
In judo , katas are practised with a partner with the objective of teaching the basic philosophical principles in which judo is based.
JUDO: Nage No Kata demonstration
The way of kata as a method for continuous improvement in Japan, is not only limited to the martial arts training, but used in many traditional japanesse arts like the theatre and the tea ceremony.
The management book Toyota Kata (2009) by professor Mike Rother examines the company’s routines of dialogues and practices – called kata – that are used to make creativity, adaptation and innovation . Rother describes the method for continuous improvement and goes on to describe how the kata inculcates the improvement habit of mind through the choreographed practice of daily improvement : “the systematic pursuit of desired conditions by utilizing human capabilities in a concerted way.”
The Toyota Kata and the use of kaizen methodology are direct descendants of the TWI (Training Within Industry) programs and the contributions of W.Edwards Deming after the Second World War in Japan.
TWI was developed in the US during the WW2 due to the shortage of trained and skilled personnel in the industry. After the war , the trainers were not so demanded in the US and were brought to Europe and Japan. The programs and principles of TWI had a direct impact on the development and use of kaizen , the continuous improvement philosopy in manufacturing , engineering and business management.
W. Edwards Deming ,considered somewhat of a hero in Japan ,made a significant contribution to Japan’s later reputation for innovative, high-quality products, and for its economic power. He is best known for the Plan- Do- Study- Act PDSA cycle as a means of discovery through investigation and experimentation.
Teams using the improvement kata learn as they strive to reach a target condition, and adapt based on what they are learning. Kata and Randori, the basis of the study of judo.