Josh, thanks for that. I really don't know but I *think* kata in kendo is practiced exactly the opposite of the way you described - that first comes technique, later comes intent. But I'm really not sure if that's how it "always way" or "was always supposed to be." At any rate, this seems to be how I was taught and am coached by Japanese sensei, with an emphasis on technique and only later with feeling - which is not to say they aren't practice intently but just that's where the emphasis is.
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