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Old 03-29-2009, 12:41 PM   #26
singhakabuttar
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Re: The GREAT kata debate

Quote:
Jorgen Matsi wrote: View Post
As posted on the Underground forum by Nowhereman2200.
Seems to make pretty much sense.
For us Aikidoka remain these questions:
Does this text or some of it apply to "paired kata" - the method most commonly used during Aikido practice?
Does this text or some of it apply to weapons katas in Aikido?
Are we witness to a downfall of ANY Traditional Martial Art which claims highly improve one's self-defence skills?

The Great Kata Debate

From a combat and/or self-defense point of view, the practice of kata, forms or patterns in TMAs prompts two questions:

(i) Do kata contain valuable information?

(ii) Does practicing kata directly improve your combative/self-defense skills?

A karate perspective
Having studied shotokan karate for 14 years, I must say that, as practiced generally, the techniques in the kata have little combative value. Karate kata applications (bunkai/oyo) that I have seen taught by traditional karate masters have almost exclusively been counters to highly stylised karate-style attacks.

I will try and lay out my thinking as follows:

1. The original applications are unknown

IF (and it is a big if) there truly were applications in mind when the katas were initally constructed they are now unknown to the general community. The honest masters out there will, and do, admit this. There is a great industry (books/videos) of people trying to deconstruct the kata - all coming up with different answers.

2. So, if the originals are unknown, why bother with kata techniques at all?
Applications get assigned to kata techniques in one of two ways. Either someone takes the kata move directly and tries to work out what it might be for, or else someone sees a move demonstrated somewhere and says "hey, that's like the move from XXXX". But why bring the kata into the picture at all? Why try to fit square pegs in round holes? Why limit yourself to attacks and counters that only look like a move from a kata. Katas are unnecessarily limiting.

3. The applications, as generally taught, are nonsense

Most of the applications that I see taught are against highly stylised karate-style attacks, and clearly only work in demonstration mode. For example, the first move in bassai-dai involves a standing with your feet and hands together, then lunging forward with a 'reinfored' inside-block. I see this demonstrated against incoming stepping punches and reverse punches. Other kata applications only work when an opponent follows, say, a right kick with right lunge punch. As Vince Morris says, "but how do you know he was going to do that?".

4. The applications are anyway considered unimportant

The largest international shotokan bodies, the SKI and JKA, both do not require demonstrations of applications for 1st degree black belt. The SKI require demonstration for 4th or 5th dan and above - after you have been training for at least 15-20 years. Surely requiring 20 years of study to usefully use a kata application shows it to be the single most inefficient training methodology imaginable? Modern traditional karate (yes, an oxymoron) places 99% of its emphasis on how good the form of the kata is, not the function. Some organisations take this to ludicrous extremes - a 10 degree variation in foot or hand angle is doing it wrong. Have these people ever been in (or even seen) a real fight? My 99% figure comes from the time spent doing kata vs doing applications, and the emphasis in grading.

5. Practicing with an invisible partner is of little value

Anything and everything works on a cooperative partner. Thus if an application 'works' against a prearranged attack it gives no information on its combative value. The 'Aliveness' concept holds devastating implications for the TMA 'prearranged attack' training philosophy. If only practicing with a cooperative partner with prearranged attacks has dubious value, then practicing with none at all has much less. "But even boxers do shadow boxing" I hear you say. My response would be that you have not boxed and do not understand the purpose of shadow boxing.

Point #5 is the most damaging of all. Even IF the techniques were genuinely of value, simply practicing them as a kata will be very unlikely to help you to apply them in a real situation. I have had experience in or seen the 'new applications' developed by people like Patrick McCarthy, Vince Morris etc and while these are an awful lot better, points #1, #2 and #5 still apply.

In summary

The original applications, IF they existed and IF they were any good, have been lost. What is taught in their place is unrealistic rubbish that only ever works for prearranged attacks. In any case, the applications are practiced far far less than the solo performance of kata. Finally, there is a great weight of modern evidence that seriously undermines the training philosophy underpinning kata.

If you knew you were going to be attacked in the street in 2 weeks time would you practice kata between now and then?

If you had a ring fight (full contact or semi contact) coming up in 2 weeks would you practice kata between now and then?

If you were designing a combative/self-defense system, would you have kata in it?

Kata is somewhat useful in developing attributes which are useful in fighting (balance, coordination, stamina etc) but I submit that there is no evidence to suggest that kata is the optimum program for developing these attributes and I suspect that it is an inefficient method of doing so. In reality, kata prepares you best for doing more kata.

From a combative/self-defense viewpoint, kata has little benefit and enormous opportunity cost (the cost of not doing something more beneficial).

My question
What I said above applies to karate, TKD, JJJ and kung fu (these are what I have trained in, or have trained with people who do them). Do you disagree? Do other arts not fall into the above traps?

Don't tell me kata/forms/patterns are great for self defense/unarmed combat - tell me why and how.
------
KATA has been debated for a long time youve got people like Bruce Lee, Steve Morris, who think they are utter rubbish, then you have the likes of Morio Higaonna, Iain Abernethy, who claim that kata contains the essence of karate(or whatever martial art).

my own experience of forms and kata is this, i have trained in a number of martial arts, to me kata and forms have there place if they are practiced in a realistic way, they need to be broken down and practiced as in bunkai.

i have seen alot of bunkai that is absolutely bollocks, i mean no one is going to attack you with a traditional reverse punch, unless he wants his head kicked in. the other thing is you need to step out of the box and vary the techniques, e.g. a boxer might practice jab right cross, jab right cross left hook from a stationary position, when hes in the ring this wont be possible because the target wont be stationary. this is where kumite comes in.

kihon, kata, kumite needs to be practiced in conjunction with each other, just as the boxer might do shadow boxing bagwork and sparring, one is no good without the other.

no boxer has ever become a world champion by practicing shadow boxing or heavy bagwork alone, sparring, conditioning, skipping, footwork, roadwork all come into play,

kata is not training for a tournament its training for the real thing, however just like boxing, training kata without applying the techniques (under control) is useless you also need to be fit if you expect to be able to use such techniques, your weapons need to be conditioned(ie hands, feet, shins, forearms) which is why the makiwara and chishi need to be used on a regular basis. as well as the heavy bag,

if you want to learn more about the above practices i suggest the following book FOUR SHADES OF BLACK the author of this book is gavin mulholland.
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Old 03-29-2009, 04:33 PM   #27
lbb
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Re: The GREAT kata debate

Five-year-old thread FTW!!!
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Old 03-31-2009, 07:33 AM   #28
JimCooper
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Re: The GREAT kata debate

Quote:
Jorgen Matsi wrote: View Post
Does this text or some of it apply to "paired kata" - the method most commonly used during Aikido practice?
Not really. This was written from a karate perspective, and as such, two-person training is not regarded as kata. The person writing would specifically mean one-person pre-arranged groups of techniques.

Quote:
Jorgen Matsi wrote: View Post
Does this text or some of it apply to weapons katas in Aikido?
Yes. While there is some value in doing a technique a lot of times and trying to get the form (ie posture, balance, timing etc) right, there is no particular advantage to doing that in a kata, as opposed to other ways.

I believe that kata is only really valuable if you are doing it as a sort of visualisation exercise. That is, you must "see" your opponent. And you must understand what the kata means.

Also, for weapons kata (and to a more limited extent for unarmed kata), you do get the opportunity to do techniques at full speed and power that would be too dangerous against a training partner.

Quote:
Jorgen Matsi wrote: View Post
From a combat and/or self-defense point of view, the practice of kata, forms or patterns in TMAs prompts two questions:
The OP misses one point, which is that most MAs taught today are not particularly traditional. For example, I have trained for a long time in Shotokan karate, named for the man who first introduced karate to Japan from Okinawa. He specifically stated that the karate practised after WWII was not like the karate he first introduced (in the 1920s), and worlds away from the karate he himself was taught. So "traditional" karate is only 50 or 60 years old - this goes for any of the other styles as well, not just Shotokan.

Quote:
Jorgen Matsi wrote: View Post
(i) Do kata contain valuable information?
Presumably yes, as they were considered dictionaries of technique for various styles. (In the karate of 100+ years ago, a person would know very few kata, certainly less than I had to "learn" for my dan grade.) But this is a moot point unless you know what the information is.

Quote:
Jorgen Matsi wrote: View Post
(ii) Does practicing kata directly improve your combative/self-defense skills?
Only if you practise them that way. You should NOT imagine being surrounded by enemies, for example. All kata I've ever seen become meaningless in that context. And certainly for karate, the old guys who did know what they meant said they were not intended for that purpose. Generally speaking, small groups of movements (down to just one), are meant to be a response to an attack, (often several attacks, if interpreted different ways).

However, having said all that, the problem with karate kata, is that the real meaning has been forgotten. It was never taught to the senior guys in Japan, so they made up bunkai (applications) that are obviously rubbish. I have trained with some people that are attempting to put the meaning back into kata, but to my mind, they are a much less valuable resource than they once were.

I've not studied aikido weapons kata to any great depth, but if there is direct knowledge of what they mean, passed down from Ueshiba, maybe they are of more value. However, if the explanation starts with being surrounded by enemies, I'd start being sceptical :-)
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Old 03-31-2009, 02:02 PM   #29
Guilty Spark
 
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Re: The GREAT kata debate

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Five-year-old thread FTW!!!
And yet if he started a new thread with the title 'lets debate Kata' someone would surely write 'use the search function!'

I think a bigger deate than Kata's-good or bad is whether people should

If you're hungry, keep moving.
If you're tired, keep moving.
If you value you're life, keep moving.

You don't own what you can't defend
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Old 03-31-2009, 04:27 PM   #30
Don_Modesto
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Re: The GREAT kata debate

Quote:
Grant Wagar wrote: View Post
And yet if he started a new thread with the title 'lets debate Kata' someone would surely write 'use the search function!'
Excellent point. (From one who often writes just that...)

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
------------------------
http://www.theaikidodojo.com/
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Old 03-31-2009, 05:19 PM   #31
Guilty Spark
 
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Re: The GREAT kata debate

Oops, half my post got cut off.
Damn this 15 minute edit posts rule!

If you're hungry, keep moving.
If you're tired, keep moving.
If you value you're life, keep moving.

You don't own what you can't defend
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Old 03-31-2009, 05:52 PM   #32
ChrisHein
 
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Re: The GREAT kata debate

If you're a martial artist there is just about no way around kata.

Maybe with the modern invention of recording equipment kata might not be as necessary as they once were.

Martial arts systems are about the transmission of specific techniques, and theories.
If you didn't have kata, it would be very hard to keep those techniques and theories in tact.

If you are interested in being a fighter, then kata is not necessary at all. You simply need to practice fighting, lots of it. Drills, sparring and conditioning are all that's required.

The question is what are you really interested in being/doing.

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Old 04-01-2009, 06:43 AM   #33
Rodger
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Re: The GREAT kata debate

I have always looked at anything we do over and over is Kata. It's repetition just like any other sport you repeat the exercise over and over to make it instinctive.

I have herd people say that kata training is useless and I admit there have been times in my development that I just hated kata. However it has it's purpose and I'm glad I just kept my wining to my self and practiced it as hard as I could.

Most of the people I have met through the year who claimed kata is useless usually their techniques was pretty weak and flawed.

Kata develops timing, speed, rhythm and power if practiced properly.

I have practiced martial since I was 9 years and you can do the math I'm 49 now.

I have witnessed all kinds of fads in martial arts through my time in the arts. To me nothing beats precise technique when you need it.

I have read post after post about how one martial is effective the other is not. To me it's the art you study but the person inside that counts. How well can you handle adversity? That's usually the deciding factor.

I might add that anyone can be had with the good old sucker punch.
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Old 04-01-2009, 01:25 PM   #34
phitruong
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Re: The GREAT kata debate

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
If you're a martial artist there is just about no way around kata.

Maybe with the modern invention of recording equipment kata might not be as necessary as they once were.

Martial arts systems are about the transmission of specific techniques, and theories.
If you didn't have kata, it would be very hard to keep those techniques and theories in tact.
.
Not necessary. as far as I know, the systema folks have no kata. no kata, no limits.
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Old 04-01-2009, 05:55 PM   #35
ChrisHein
 
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Re: The GREAT kata debate

It's also under 50years old. It's founders are still around.

None of the Koryu we have today would have made it without kata.

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Old 04-01-2009, 07:02 PM   #36
lbb
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Re: The GREAT kata debate

I get the impression that kata occupy a very different niche in aikido than they do in, say, karate. They occur only in the context of weapons practice, which isn't that central in many dojos, and they share time with suburi. In karate, very soon after you start training, you start learning your first kata. From that day on, every day you train, you will most likely do kata -- and you will do the same kata and no other for months, if not longer. At my old karate dojo, every class was the same: kihon, kumite, kata. If it was an all-levels class, we'd start off with heian shodan, every night -- and sandans and higher would patiently do that beginner kata that they'd done thousands of times before.

To people who don't get kata, or call it dancing, or are into the chest-thumping MMA "real" training, all that is a vain exercise. What can I say, there are things you can't explain to people who haven't been there and won't open their imaginations. Sometimes the value of a thing isn't apparent until you've devoted some time to it, and sometimes that value simply can't be explained to those who haven't applied themselves. You stare at a rock for long enough, maybe something amazing reveals itself. Maybe nothing does. Maybe there was nothing there to reveal. But if there is something profound, you're not going to get it out of a cursory glance and a 30-second soundbite. You need to apply yourself patiently, without expectation of having all the answers quickly to fit into your busy schedule (because, y'know, you've got important things to do, not this boring kata crap).
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