Should Katas End Where They Begin?

To answer your question on kata and the ending point is not easy to give a definitive answer. Some feel that it is a spiritual emotion and others feel it’s a place to start your life and still others feel its nothing more than to structure the kata and build discipline.

  1. Spiritual: One that starts kata in a place is setting an area of dominance. This is to say that she owns that place and that she is on a journey to defend herself. The ending place is where she should return as one solider returns home from battle.
  2. Philosophical: Others feel that its a place that you are born and the ending of kata, after you have defended yourself and lived life to its fullest, is a place to end your life, passing. And that is why kata ends in the same place it starts from.
  3. Structure: Most, however, Feel that it is nothing more than to help build discipline. Meeting in the same spot is very important.
  4. Impeccable: One thought is what I feel is most correct is this. If you finish where you start it will show that you performed the stances correctly and that the technique you executed is correct. Or at least done correctly!
  5. Journey: One Soke from Japan, that I have never meet, feels that the start place is just that, a start. And that the ending is just that and ending, nothing more. He felt that the technique itself was most important aspect of kata and not if you end up in the same place you start in.

I had some one ask the same question a few months ago and as I research it I found that most Okinawan katas did not end up in the same spot. The Chinese systems did not either. I also found that some Okinawans did in fact demand that kata end in the same spot as did some Chinese arts.

Black belt teacher helping a yellow belt child
Black belt teacher helping a yellow belt child

So where does this leave you? And the question you asked?

It leaves you here. You must decide what is best for you and how you feel! I, myself, try to keep in the rule of structure and spiritual means, as this feels best for me. I never take away from a student that does not end in the same spot, but I will assist then in making sure that their stances are correct as well as technique. Then after years of practice they find the spiritual side for themselves and this is when you see your student really shine!  It makes me feel proud when I see them find their own way in the arts and not leading them 100% of the time.

Find you own path in kata and find that special spiritual breath that you are seeking. You will. I know it.


  • Bryan Bagnas

    Grandmaster and Founder of Golden Leopard Kempo Martial Arts School, teaching Philippine Combatives, Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu, Kickboxing, Hawaiian Shaolin Kempo, and Self-Defense to San Diego students for over three decades.