Single Kata Blocks, Strikes, Throws, Locks, Breakfalls etc., are practised against an imaginary opponent.
Pairs Kata: Blocks, Strikes, Throws, Locks, Breakfalls etc., are practised with a partner or partners.
Weapons Kata: Both single and pairs - practice in the use of each of the weapons in offensive and defensive situations.
The benefits of Kata are in the development of these attributes:
Jikishin Ju Jitsu Association
Kata - The Benefits of Kata
Traditionally, Kata is a way for the knowledge within the school (or Ryu in Japanese) martial arts being passed down the generations. By ensuring that Kata are performed in the same manner, and with the same moves, footwork, hand and body movements, the knowledge is preserved and not dissipated.
It is very important that the Kata are not changed in teaching, or each Kata will become distant from the original, and lessons within the original Kata are lost. Most Kata are quite old and are handed down from the original schools of martial arts, and many retain their ancient roots and movements.
Kata help the student to develop the many basic skills into more complex techniques by reinforcing the movements to perfect strikes, blocks, kicks, throws and locks.
Embo (Advanced Locking Techniques) are a practical method of moving through a series of sequential locks and are related to Kata.
The main thrust of Kata is within the higher grades, although all students are taught the first Blocking Kata and the Novice Kata at White Belt. With all Kata, it is important to understand the Application of the Kata, as well as the movements.
Only by understanding the application, will the student fully appreciate what result each move within the Kata is designed to produce.
Kata, within many of the Oriental Martial Arts is also considered a path to true enlightenment, and can also be a form of "moving meditation" called Dozen (pronounced Doh Zen).