Kata is the Japanese word for “form,” a notion perhaps best known within the Japanese martial arts, where it refers to a pattern or sequence of martial arts movements. They typically serve as a practice to be carried out alone or in a group, while internalizing certain combat movements and techniques.
Nevertheless, Katas are also known within a range of other Japanese arts, such as in the performance arts (dance, theater, etc.), in tea ceremonies, and last but not least, in Shiatsu Massage Therapy.
In Japan, the concept of Kata also refers to “the way of doing” something, which includes both the form and the order in which one is doing an activity to achieve mastery. Of late, in the West, the idea of Kata is increasingly used to refer to anything that includes a form, behavior, routine, or pattern with a goal of reaching proficiency in a certain activity.
In Shiatsu Therapy, a Kata is a choreographed form, massage routine, or sequence of movements, rhythm, flow, and massage techniques performed by the massage therapist in order to balance the receiver’s energy system — the flow of Ki Vital Force — that is, to maintain or achieve health and well-being for the receiver.
Different types of Shiatsu Massage usually implement different types of Katas for different health conditions or aims, and moreover, each therapist may use his or her own style, type, or set of Katas.
To give an example: you may find Shiatsu Chair Massage Katas, Shiatsu Barefoot Massage Katas, Neck and Shoulder Massage Katas, Abdominal Massage Katas, Foot Massage Katas, Meridian and Tsubo pressure points Katas, and so on.
Often, Katas are also used to teach Shiatsu Massage, making it easier for students to practice and internalize the massage techniques through well-defined sequences, which typically address work on all the Energy Meridians.