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#105372 - 04/11/04 04:06 PM Re: Kata has no use in a real situation!!!!!!!!!!
kakushiite Offline

Registered: 02/06/03
Posts: 266
Loc: Ithaca, NY, USA
I believe we should expect Brian’s perspective to be common among many karate students.

In my view, the core of the problem is the rate at which kata are introduced in many systems, where a new kata is taught to a beginner student every three of four months. In many Shotokan systems, after four years of training, a student is likely to have learned up to 15 kata.

How does this compare with how kata was practiced one hundred years ago. We can all learn from Funakoshi’s writing in the master text.

“In the past, it was expected that about three years were required to learn a single kata, and it was usual that even an expert of considerable skill would only know three or at the most five kata, Thus, in short, it was felt that a superficial understanding of many kata was of little use. The aim of training reflected the precept expressed by the wards, “Although the doorway is narrow, go deeply inward,” I, too, studied for ten years to really learn the three Tekki forms.”

(He then goes on to advocate a new way of more forms, that “one might well reconsider the practice of becoming deeply engrossed in very few forms.” It can be argued that this shift in emphasis was part of an effort to transform karate as an effective self-defense system into more of an art form. Hence, our predicament today.)

It is important to remember that when Funakoshi refers to the time he studied under Itosu, students were expected to train every day for 2 hours. (Itosu’s 3rd Precept, as translated in Nagamine’s “Tales of Okinawa’s Great Masters’)

Let’s do a comparison.
Itosu’s students: 1 kata every three years (3 (years) x 365 (days) x 2 (hours/day) = ~2000 hours)

Average student today: 1 kata every 4 months (4 (months) x 8 (times/month) x 1.5 hours/day) = ~50 hours)

If kata repetition during dojo training were the same today, as it was 100 years ago, then for every kata repetition done today, students 100 years ago would have done 40. But it is quite arguable that in Itosu’s time, there was a much heavier emphasis on kata repetition, since today there has been a shift towards kumite techniques and practice. If 100 years ago, the emphasis were more than twice what it is today, then that ratio would be closer to 100 to 1.

If you really want to make movements automatic, so that they are done almost at an unconscious level, with great speed and power, you really need massive repetitions. That’s the way kata was practiced 100 years ago. That is not typically how it is practiced today.

It can also be argued, that in most dojos, serious repetition of kata applications, with partners, is simply not part of the curriculum. We continually hear of students being told to be patient and that applications will be taught at a higher rank. But at the higher rank are so many more kata, that useful applications to many kata movements are rarely practiced, if at all.

No wonder we have students today with such a negative view of the utility of kata. They are given neither the knowledge, nor the opportunity to do the repetitions needed to make the knowledge work.

[This message has been edited by kakushiite (edited 04-11-2004).]

#105373 - 04/12/04 05:33 PM Re: Kata has no use in a real situation!!!!!!!!!!
Dr. Krunk-n-stein Offline

Registered: 04/08/04
Posts: 120
Loc: here nor there
Outstanding take kakushite! I agree with you, and Funakoshi, completely.

Massive repetition is the "ki". Kata, kata, kata...

#105374 - 04/13/04 10:46 AM Re: Kata has no use in a real situation!!!!!!!!!!
Stampede Offline
Lord of the Kazoo

Registered: 04/08/04
Posts: 967
Loc: El Dorado, AR
Excellent post, excellent point.

#105375 - 04/18/04 05:41 AM Re: Kata has no use in a real situation!!!!!!!!!!
Kakushi-master Offline

Registered: 04/18/04
Posts: 6
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
Many people have been misled by Bruce Lee. If you are sucked into his atittude and mentality then you sure are misled. Bruce Lee was not as big as the movies made him sound. (used to be my idol for the longest time). A true martial artist would not carry himself with such extreme of ego.
The bragging and cockiness belongs to the boxers and WWF type fighters. And simply should have no place in a real martial art dojo.


Sure boxers or kick boxers don’t practice kata, but they also are not near as WELL ROUNDED as traditional karate experts are. (this I have seen with my own eyes).
Look at how jackie Chan for example moves. His versitility, co-ordination and special fighting skills come from kata type exercises and not from punching bags. (I know that he also is an actor but... I think you understand what I mean)

Those who don’t enjoy kata and don’t see the relations between it’s practice and effectiveness in self defense have probably had poor instruction, or perhaps have just read about kata in a library for 10 minutes. Once you witness what lies within kata, which only instructors trained in certain ways can teach you, you will be amazed. And I am sure you will find new respect for it.

Keep in mind there is not many qualified karate instructors out there whom have the ability to demonstrate the kata applications and show their Full Potential.

I was well over 10 years into my training before I had my eyes opened and discovered the reason for every little move in the katas. And since then I enjoy my training 10 times more!

I do understand however that learning kata after kata, and knowing more katas does not mean much. One who knows 15 katas is not necessarily a better fighter than one who knows only 5. The question is ... do you know each kata really well. Not only to perform but to APPLY.

Also lets not forget that without kata, most challenges that we are presented with in our training would be lost. And chances are by being left with only sparring, session after session, most of us would be simply BORED with our training perhaps 6 months down the road.


#105376 - 04/19/04 03:50 PM Re: Kata has no use in a real situation!!!!!!!!!!
Dr. Krunk-n-stein Offline

Registered: 04/08/04
Posts: 120
Loc: here nor there
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Kakushi-master:


"OSS"- forerunner to the CIA- "CHARLATANS IN ACTION".

Self-promoted to Shihan, huh?

I think the main point is that you should do kata that is structurally and fundamentally sound. If you are doing the long, and wide stance variety I doubt the SD inherent in its original Okinawan form will be present. If you do Shotokan or another schoolkid hybrid you may be missing the point. That Jackie Chan analogy was kind of weak, too.

Jackie was part of the "Opera" where kids are forced through violence and torture to become superior acrobats and gymnasts. The skills you see him display are a result of everything he was put through, a tiny portion of that being, quan or kata. He is a trained circus boy.

Now training your students to do the bunkai and movements of one form is silly. Especially if that form is a Kusanku variant. Kusanku? That form is much too advanced to the intermediate, let alone rookie, karate-ka. 2 forms a year will suffice nowadays. Only forms that have logical form and the techs intact. Most Japanese karate doesn't have this. Even the Kobayashi forms are a little "MODIFIED". Just look at the stances, and the overemphasis on goho. Those more modern kata are for looks and physical fitness.

In order to a true BB in Okinawan karate you have to know at least 5 kata. I mean you could have a 1 kata system, but that would limit what you were learning from kata. There are different lessons in each form. Passai does not teach the same techs and lessons as Kusanku, but is just as important, especially to understand advanced tuite.

Anyway, if you are the same "hidden" fist guy, I tend to like your philosophy on training, except for the one kata drilling stuff. Later.

#105377 - 04/20/04 10:14 AM Re: Kata has no use in a real situation!!!!!!!!!!
xmusashi17 Offline

Registered: 04/14/04
Posts: 38
Loc: Pa, USA
I read somewhere about this topic. They said that people mis-understood what Bruce Lee said. He acutally didnt say that Kata is pointless. He said that Kata is like the alphabet, you must learn the alphabet before learning how to make words and sentances. You must learn and practice the techniques through kata before being able to fight. Thanks.

#105378 - 04/22/04 12:43 PM Re: Kata has no use in a real situation!!!!!!!!!!
Lokkan-Do Offline

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 1411
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Kata has no use in a real situation!!!!!!!!!![/QUOTE]

Duh!!! How long did it take for you to figure that out?

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Brian Mullen:
I agree with Bruce Lee when he said "Kata is pointless, when learning to fight".

I agree

[QUOTE] Raul thank you for your input, but not trying to sound "ignorant". If Kata is so important in teaching a person how to fight, then why don't Boxers or Muay Thai fighters have Kata. [/QUOTE]

That's because it's not teach you to fight and not necessary.

However, if wre to come in here and say Kata is pointless I would have to disagree.

Kata is like a book. It offers lessons in theory, allows you to examine yourself, develops Ki (internal energy), balance, posture, contraction, relaxation, speed, reflexes, health, breathing, fluidity (some of which can be acheived today with modern training equipment)...It has many benefits, but it doesn't teach you practical fighting.

There some people out there that think if one was approached with a knife kata practioners would bow and annouce Heian Shodan...LMAO

Warm regards, Lok

Read the articles on this site

[This message has been edited by Lokkan-Do (edited 04-22-2004).]

#105379 - 04/23/04 01:06 PM Re: Kata has no use in a real situation!!!!!!!!!!
WADO Offline

Registered: 04/23/04
Posts: 900
Loc: denver co usa
I am new so I will give a little info, I am a Professor of Eastern Philosophy I was on my schools boxing team from first grade through age 16, have trained in karate-do since 1988 so my experience is limited by only 16 years of karate training but it seems everyone on this discussion is missing the point of Kata. In the Asian world view meaning Confucian and Taoist philosophy, everyone learns roughly the same way and every art or science works by the same set of rules. When you learn to play a musical instrument you must first learn to play the notes as they appear on paper with no deviation from tradition, when you have perfected your skills at playing the notes you have the option of improvisation. The Confucian element of martial arts is strict adherance to tradition doing the same things over and over until they become natural. Kata teaches proper hip movement. proper stance, balance dexterity, it basically tranforms your body into a body that can learn to fight. The Taoist element is summed up in wu wei acting spontaneously with no conscious effort and no care for the outcome. To train in Kata without training to fight is just dancing, but to train in fighting without Kata is silly looking. Remember do not misinterpret the meaning of Kata because it is comonly associated with preset routines, anything that prepares your body to learn to fight is Kata, lifting weights punching the bag, stretching, all represent the meaning of Kata, but also don't forget that Kata is never an end unto itself the real purpose always behind kata is to prepare the body to learn to fight.

#105380 - 04/23/04 06:38 PM Re: Kata has no use in a real situation!!!!!!!!!!
Dr. Krunk-n-stein Offline

Registered: 04/08/04
Posts: 120
Loc: here nor there
Kata is a form of "Sacred Geometry". Its efficacy is an ancient mystery. I'll leave it at that.

#105381 - 04/23/04 08:51 PM Re: Kata has no use in a real situation!!!!!!!!!!
ryute kempo Offline

Registered: 04/23/04
Posts: 4
Loc: broken arrow OK 74011
Kata is crucial to real life self defense.
(if you truly uderstand kata)
Pick any ancient original kata that has not
been "americanized" and has it's true
movements and I dare say you can find a
a self defense technique to fit any
The problem is understanding the kata and
the meaning or meanings of the movements.
Every move can have 2-3-4 different meanings
depending on the situation or interpretation
I am still training and learning to fully
comprehend what is hidden from us(as I am
sure most of us are).
The ancient masters who developed the kata
did so to practice there technique without
giving them away.
Our job is to put the puzzle together so
these ancient techniques are not lost in
all the hype of tournament fighting
and flashy 'empty' kata.

Train smart.

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