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#105461 - 03/15/04 02:45 AM Kata's false bottom
Bossman Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/25/03
Posts: 1785
Loc: Chatham Kent UK
An article wot i rote on kata:

KATA – THE SECRET LEGACY..

“Sensei, what’s all this kata lark about then?”

Sensei looked slightly quizzical…… “kata ‘lark’, what do you mean by that?”

We’d just been working on postural alignment, breathing, mental alertness and focus in kata.

“Yeah… I’ve been reading in the mags and on the ‘net’ and lots of people are saying that kata is useless and outdated and that if you want to fight, it’s better to do drills, pad work and sparring….”

“They’re certainly essential to your training regime, but don’t forget that these forms were devised by people that were held to account for their skills…. many people that still have to fight for ‘real’ in the street, guys like Dennis Jones still see a lot of value in kata, why do you think that is?”

“ As a matter of fact, said another student, loads of instructors do ‘deadly’ application to each move! They have dim mak pressure points that’ll killerise ya!” Everyone laughed…

“Yeah but… the questioner continued, they say that is just marketing…. Reminds me of that book “101 things to do with a dead cat”

“And… who is this ‘they’ that seem to know so much?” asked Sensei.

“Well on the internet forums, there’s a guy called ‘killboxer’ and another called ‘ninjaken’….”

“Enough said, internet warriors eh? The internet is an excellent place for research and discussion, just remember that it’s easy to make claims without having to validate them.

So let’s consider what kata really are….

When I started training video hadn’t been invented. There were virtually no books on the martial arts and information was severely limited. No one travelled abroad. Anything oriental was highly exotic and no one I knew had even met a Japanese or Chinese person other than in the Second World War. The transmission of information was extremely limited. The further you go back, you find less and less people had access to information and communication devices. “

“Didn’t realise you was THAT old Sensei!” (laughter)

“Still young enough to open a can of ass whopping on you! (more laughter)

So how did they teach and remember? They had to use mnemonic systems - and every culture had their own method.”

“Hang on Sensei…. ‘mnemonic’…. Wassat when it’s at home?”

“You obviously can’t remember… (laughter) it’s a method of remembering..

When I was at school we chanted and sang songs to remember, every person in their fifties can still remember chanting their ‘times tables’ and even if they haven’t said them for forty years – I bet they still remember them! Some ancient tribes chant their entire ancestral line! Most traditional songs and poems are methods of teaching dangers and values to the younger generation. Tribal war dances are a form of kata - playing out scenarios, polishing skills and telling stories that contain the morals and ethics of their society.”

“So some of these African tribes doing their war dances are actually doing kata?”

“Yes. Put yourself in the place of a martial arts master some 300 years ago with mastery of some 5,000 techniques and a handful of students, how can he pass on his knowledge? What’s the best way to teach it? Both he and his students would be familiar with learning mnemonically, so he would create a “song” of the body skills required to do those techniques. I use the term ‘body skills’ because he can’t just list the techniques as this would take forever to train and would repeat many of those skills in an inefficient routine to cover them all.

This is where some of the genius of kata lay, what he does is to catalogue his techniques into body skills – the same skill and movement can be used for escaping, locking capturing, throwing, blocking and striking so one movement (often the skills lie in parts of that one movement) covers them all.

Once he has categorised all his techniques into a group of body skills he puts them into an order where one movement enhances the next for training purposes, not necessarily that it would follow that way in a fight (though it often does). The sequences are designed in such a way that they formulate an extremely advanced training routine, as the student becomes more advanced, the mentor can add additional skill layers.”

“Wow! So in fact a kata can be a really advanced training routine in itself AND a way of remembering all the techniques!”

“That’s right. And remember that their training was often spied upon by others to learn their routines, so they also had to find a method of ‘hiding’ what they were doing, so it wasn’t always obvious at first sight, for instance, often the practitioner would look in opposite direction of the technique he was applying, so it would look like an evasion or block as opposed to a strike, and even if a spy joined the school, the first version of the form was never explained and without the explanation of the master, the student would not know the secrets he was carrying!”

“What would the ‘bunkai’ be?”

“Bunkai means ‘to break down and explore’ so the mentor analyses the skill into it’s constituent parts to the student for training purposes, adding in the various applications, techniques and their variations for each appropriate part of the skill.

Some kata are designed as system kata and when unlocked, open up the whole system. They can be likened to a “zip” file on your computer. Others are skill specific kata and work on enhancing specific skills, these are often put into groups and often a “style” will contain both system and skill specific kata.

Another aspect of the genius in this legacy is that the Chinese say that some people have “square minds” these people will teach exactly as they have been taught. This means that even if they don’t get to fully understand the genius contained within the forms, they will pass them on exactly as they have been taught. This means that they are acting as guardians and passing on the equivalent of an unopened zip file so that when someone who has the capability comes across the forms, with practise, they will open themselves to that person.”

“Like carrying a treasure chest you can’t open!”

Sensei smiled…. “Or even one you can…. But you never discover it had a false bottom and was full of treasure….”

(edited to take out titling)



[This message has been edited by Bossman (edited 03-15-2004).]

Top
#105462 - 03/15/04 03:10 AM Re: Kata's false bottom
Anonymous
Unregistered


Great article Steve.

Good point about the tribal dances being a form of kata.
Sharon

Top
#105463 - 03/15/04 07:41 AM Re: Kata's false bottom
Anonymous
Unregistered


Excellent article.

That's a solid 10.

Top
#105464 - 03/15/04 08:13 AM Re: Kata's false bottom
Raul Perez Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 08/08/02
Posts: 2805
Loc: Lake Ronkonkoma, NY, USA
Excellent post Bossman.

Raul

Top
#105465 - 03/15/04 02:20 PM Re: Kata's false bottom
Isshinryukid4life Offline
Professional Injury causer

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 2455
Loc: Knoxville.
Awesome article. [IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG]

Top
#105466 - 03/15/04 06:45 PM Re: Kata's false bottom
Anonymous
Unregistered


Outstanding explanation of kata. Props!

Top
#105467 - 03/16/04 03:42 PM Re: Kata's false bottom
Alejandro Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 05/02/02
Posts: 940
Loc: Las Cruces, NM USA
Just read it. Loved it!

-Al

Top
#105468 - 12/14/04 02:47 PM Re: Kata's false bottom
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hehe, thanks Bossman, I appreciate that a lot [IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG] I enjoy stories like that. I always thought kata was a crap waste of time until I actually stuck around long enough to see its significance [IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG]

Top
#105469 - 12/15/04 01:31 PM Re: Kata's false bottom
chinto01 Offline
Member

Registered: 03/03/04
Posts: 102
Awesome article!!!

Top
#105470 - 12/15/04 02:19 PM Re: Kata's false bottom
Littlpond Offline
Member

Registered: 06/10/04
Posts: 46
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Bossman:
An article wot i rote on kata:

KATA – THE SECRET LEGACY..

“Sensei, what’s all this kata lark about then?”

Sensei looked slightly quizzical…… “kata ‘lark’, what do you mean by that?”

We’d just been working on postural alignment, breathing, mental alertness and focus in kata.

“Yeah… I’ve been reading in the mags and on the ‘net’ and lots of people are saying that kata is useless and outdated and that if you want to fight, it’s better to do drills, pad work and sparring….”

“They’re certainly essential to your training regime, but don’t forget that these forms were devised by people that were held to account for their skills…. many people that still have to fight for ‘real’ in the street, guys like Dennis Jones still see a lot of value in kata, why do you think that is?”

“ As a matter of fact, said another student, loads of instructors do ‘deadly’ application to each move! They have dim mak pressure points that’ll killerise ya!” Everyone laughed…

“Yeah but… the questioner continued, they say that is just marketing…. Reminds me of that book “101 things to do with a dead cat”

“And… who is this ‘they’ that seem to know so much?” asked Sensei.

“Well on the internet forums, there’s a guy called ‘killboxer’ and another called ‘ninjaken’….”

“Enough said, internet warriors eh? The internet is an excellent place for research and discussion, just remember that it’s easy to make claims without having to validate them.

So let’s consider what kata really are….

When I started training video hadn’t been invented. There were virtually no books on the martial arts and information was severely limited. No one travelled abroad. Anything oriental was highly exotic and no one I knew had even met a Japanese or Chinese person other than in the Second World War. The transmission of information was extremely limited. The further you go back, you find less and less people had access to information and communication devices. “

“Didn’t realise you was THAT old Sensei!” (laughter)

“Still young enough to open a can of ass whopping on you! (more laughter)

So how did they teach and remember? They had to use mnemonic systems - and every culture had their own method.”

“Hang on Sensei…. ‘mnemonic’…. Wassat when it’s at home?”

“You obviously can’t remember… (laughter) it’s a method of remembering..

When I was at school we chanted and sang songs to remember, every person in their fifties can still remember chanting their ‘times tables’ and even if they haven’t said them for forty years – I bet they still remember them! Some ancient tribes chant their entire ancestral line! Most traditional songs and poems are methods of teaching dangers and values to the younger generation. Tribal war dances are a form of kata - playing out scenarios, polishing skills and telling stories that contain the morals and ethics of their society.”

“So some of these African tribes doing their war dances are actually doing kata?”

“Yes. Put yourself in the place of a martial arts master some 300 years ago with mastery of some 5,000 techniques and a handful of students, how can he pass on his knowledge? What’s the best way to teach it? Both he and his students would be familiar with learning mnemonically, so he would create a “song” of the body skills required to do those techniques. I use the term ‘body skills’ because he can’t just list the techniques as this would take forever to train and would repeat many of those skills in an inefficient routine to cover them all.

This is where some of the genius of kata lay, what he does is to catalogue his techniques into body skills – the same skill and movement can be used for escaping, locking capturing, throwing, blocking and striking so one movement (often the skills lie in parts of that one movement) covers them all.

Once he has categorised all his techniques into a group of body skills he puts them into an order where one movement enhances the next for training purposes, not necessarily that it would follow that way in a fight (though it often does). The sequences are designed in such a way that they formulate an extremely advanced training routine, as the student becomes more advanced, the mentor can add additional skill layers.”

“Wow! So in fact a kata can be a really advanced training routine in itself AND a way of remembering all the techniques!”

“That’s right. And remember that their training was often spied upon by others to learn their routines, so they also had to find a method of ‘hiding’ what they were doing, so it wasn’t always obvious at first sight, for instance, often the practitioner would look in opposite direction of the technique he was applying, so it would look like an evasion or block as opposed to a strike, and even if a spy joined the school, the first version of the form was never explained and without the explanation of the master, the student would not know the secrets he was carrying!”

“What would the ‘bunkai’ be?”

“Bunkai means ‘to break down and explore’ so the mentor analyses the skill into it’s constituent parts to the student for training purposes, adding in the various applications, techniques and their variations for each appropriate part of the skill.

Some kata are designed as system kata and when unlocked, open up the whole system. They can be likened to a “zip” file on your computer. Others are skill specific kata and work on enhancing specific skills, these are often put into groups and often a “style” will contain both system and skill specific kata.

Another aspect of the genius in this legacy is that the Chinese say that some people have “square minds” these people will teach exactly as they have been taught. This means that even if they don’t get to fully understand the genius contained within the forms, they will pass them on exactly as they have been taught. This means that they are acting as guardians and passing on the equivalent of an unopened zip file so that when someone who has the capability comes across the forms, with practise, they will open themselves to that person.”

“Like carrying a treasure chest you can’t open!”

Sensei smiled…. “Or even one you can…. But you never discover it had a false bottom and was full of treasure….”

(edited to take out titling)

[This message has been edited by Bossman (edited 03-15-2004).]
[/QUOTE]

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