Friday, March 1, 2013

Life Katas -- by Diane Mowery

My daughter, Sarah, takes karate and will soon be awarded her brown belt. In the process she has learned over twenty katas. A kata is a pattern of defensive and offensive moves memorized and practiced in sequence. Watching katas is like watching military moves choreographed into dance. I see how katas are useful for learning karate, but I wondered how useful they are in real combat, especially when an opponent cares nothing about karate.

Sarah’s instructor is also a police officer, so I asked him:  “How useful are the katas to you when you are on the street in hand to hand combat with a criminal? You could hardly follow a whole sequence through, so how does it help you?”

“Oh, it’s everything when in combat. Because my mind and body are trained in katas I don’t have to think about what to do next. My body goes into each move that is needed and adjusts to my opponent’s moves without making a conscious decision. My response to an opponent is quicker and more effective than if I had to think about each move I make.”

I began to think of ways I respond without making a conscious decision. What patterns of mind and body have I established in everyday living and is each life kata helpful or harmful? When the opponent of temptation comes, have I trained my mind to make good choices?

Before I became a Christian I had patterns established that were based on selfish desires. The patterns of the old self carried into my new life in Christ. One of these was drawing attention to myself by flirting. I kept falling into this old pattern. One day I asked God why this was such a problem for me. I got my answer when I walked past a television playing one of my favorite shows. There was the pattern, a televised kata of seduction. I realized that most of my favorite shows emphasized that same kata. My mind was trained to automatically copy it when I was around men. I had to retrain my mind by finding better patterns to imitate, and for a time I also had to avoid watching katas of seduction on television.

As Sarah focuses on katas to train her mind for combat, I focus on scripture, prayer and people who live out godly examples to train my mind to imitate God. (Ephesians 5:1) I have to practice things like kindness, forgiveness, humility and purity in my mind before I can live it out in my body. (Romans 8:5) Watching Sarah, I have to ask myself: where do I still need to train my mind to put on the newness that is in Christ so I will move according to His example when challenged by life? How effective are my life katas?

© 2013, Diane Mowery

I am grateful to Diane Mowery for sharing her wonderfully inspiring story. -- bws

About Diane Mowery
                Diane graduated from the University of Wyoming where she majored in secondary education. She taught junior and senior high school science, and then taught all subjects to her own homeschooled children. In addition to taking care of a large family, Diane facilitates a writers’ group. Her home in the Texas Panhandle is shared with family and a menagerie of animals, including wild birds that have learned to outsmart her cats.  


  1. Diane, good to see this piece again! I think it is my favorite of your work that I've read.


  2. Love the analogy! Very thoughtful. Thanks for sharing.