Spiritual Content of Kata

Roy Kenneth Kamen

Life and Death

• 3-26-2020 •


Across the street from the Middle School where I teach Karate is the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Flatbush. There is an old cemetery behind the Church that I pass everyday when I walk from the subway to the school. I find this fascinating from a spiritual point of view. The area is permeated with the spirits of the dead casting off a lively vibrancy throughout the Brooklyn neighborhood.

In Martial Arts practice, we work with the forces of life and death. We learn to fight and kill so we may live another day. I like to say that when we enter the Dojo, we die, and when we leave, we are born again. I also say when we practice Kata, we occupy the space between life and death. It is a strange place to be, a moving mediation of sorts. I always feel invigorated after practicing Kata, full of life.

In late December, I became aware of the problem in Wuhan, China, with COVID-19 Coronavirus. My studies of the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic, 2005 Bird Flu scare, and the 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic, led me to believe COVID-19 would also go Pandemic and cause worldwide disruption, with much illness and death.

Many people are afraid that they or loved ones will get sick and terrified that some may die from the virus. And many are fearful of the economic consequences. All of these concerns are valid if not paralyzing. However, we will get through it.

There is a saying: “You haven’t truly lived until you have died.” What does that mean? It doesn’t matter how much money you have or how successful you’ve been, in the end, there is no way out of life besides death. It is how it is. Acceptance of that knowledge is freeing.

My choice is to laugh in the face of death and celebrate life… until it’s my time.

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