Karate is really quite a compact art. Yes, at some point in the past movements became "big" so people at the back of the dojo could see what was happening. Meanwhile the senior people at the front of the dojo began copying their sensei's big movements and that was that. In more recent times the requirements for competition have reduced kata to fancy arm waving and gymnastics.
But katas, or small families of katas have the potential to represent complete systems. Individual techniques have the potential to hold the keys to those systems.
The time taken to "do" karate is small. Everything happens in a short time frame. I have it on good authority that, for example, stepping punch (oizuki or junzuki) begins as you place your heel on the ground and ends once the toes are down.
That's it. Imagine the soles of your feet are like sensors. When pressure is applied they trigger the rest of your body to act. Power travels up from the feet, through the leg muscles, rotation of the waist and vibration of the hips.
It all happens in the time it takes to put your foot down. If that isn't happening then either your timing's out or there's too much unnecessary movement or tension in your techniques. Slow your basics right down to find the timing. Or have a chat with a tai chi teacher!
Is oizuki or junzuki the ultimate kata?!
Is kata really about what moves and tricks you have, or is it about discovering how to move? How do you define kata?