Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Posted by terrepruitt on July 11, 2009

According to Wiki a Kata “is a Japanese word describing detailed choreographed patterns of movements practiced either solo or in pairs.”

Even though we do not do it solo or in pairs, Nia has adopted that word to describe the movements we do to a song.  Nia classes are similar to other group exercises in that the teacher leads the group through moves.

Nia uses music and Katas strung together to form a routine.

The average seems to be between seven and ten katas to a routine.  Since one of the goals in Nia is to find health through movement, we move in all different ways to the music.  Sometimes the katas can be similar and sometimes they can be completely different.  One might have you swirling in place or moving around the room.  We often use the face of a clock as a pattern for our feet.  We will, as an example, step to 12:00, then 6:00 and then maybe out to 1:00, 2:00, or 3:00.  We might cross our right over to the left and step at 11:00 and/or our left over our right and step to 1:00.  All the while moving our arms, of course.

The most recent kata I learned is full of kicks, chops, blocks, shimmys, and rumbles.  It has front kicks, back kicks and side kicks.  It has downward chops and upward chops.  It has upward blocks, downward blocks, and outward blocks.  It is somewhat energizing because you can really put some “oomph” into your blocks—really contracting the muscles, then when you do the shimmy it is a nice relaxing release.

Nia is a full body workout.  The katas that are put together to form a routine  that gets the whole body moving.  Would you like to come see how its done?

10 Responses to “Katas”

  1. Hi Terre…then you must’ve learned Opal!!! The kata you mention of the kicks, chops, blocks, shimmys and rumbles is one of my favorites. Or at least it was until my recent hip injury (doing some gardening). I can still enjoy it, just not with the all out energy I’m used to.

    It took me the longest time to understand what a “kata” is. I know that must soudn really silly, but I kept trying to make it more than it is…the definition you post above on your blog is so helpful. Thanks!

    Love to you…kick! Block! Shimmy!!! Rumble!!



    • Yes, I did just learn Opal. I am still learning Opal, but that is the one I was taking about. I think I am at that “stop watching Debbie stage”. I have to embrace how I do it because I can’t do it like she does.

      I adjusted this post a little bit because I was in a rush when I wrote it and it was bothering me. I might adjust it more.

      I think I learned what a kata was off of the Sanjana DVD first off.

      Love to you too. Thank you.


  2. judy said

    Your description of the kata reminds me of how my friend’s four year old boy moves. Which is funny because I think children are sometimes smarter than we are. They tend to stop eating when they’re no longer hungry, say what they really think, exercise to stay sane… dance whether there is music or not. Nice thought that maybe Nia brings you closer to that brave, unrestrained childhood self.


    • Oh Miss Judy, you have touched upon one of the things that makes Nia so fun. It is unrestrained. And we DO get to let out our inner child. We get to skip, hop, jump, run, crawl on the floor, shout, scream, laugh, dance in our own way, be silly, be strong, be tough, be short, be long . . . . . that is one of the reason people love it. It allows you to be a kid again.


  3. johnpruitt said

    Katas are used extensively in many martial arts. Nice to see some recognizable goodies in Nia


    • Yes, I would imagine that Katas are used in martial arts because that is what all the examples were in Wiki. That is why I said that Nia adopted it, because it tends to be more “martial arty” but we do use some kicks and punches and we bring in the some elements and thoughts from Tai Chi, Tae Kwon Do, and Aikido.

      And you would recognize a lot more from Nia. We cha-cha-cha, we side step, we grapevine, you as a dancer would recognize a lot, not just the martial arts elements!


  4. […] dictate the actually level of intensity you are participating in during a particular class or kata, but that is up to you.  No level is “better” than the other one, the best one is […]


  5. […] to push on is there.  Sanjana has great opportunity for dynamic ease to be exercised.  There are katas that allow for the fluid moves of martial arts with dance, kicking, punching, blocking, and […]


  6. […] to music.  Nia’s choreography is pretty.  In fact in many cases it is beautiful.  Most Nia katas are based on the 52 Nia moves.  Steps and moves have been carefully selected to fit with the […]


  7. […] our bodies as they each individually need to be worked.  Yes, we do have specific steps in a kata or song.  But everyone’s body does the steps maybe a little differently — to their own […]


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