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#105802 - 06/09/04 05:23 PM Brian -- Kata & it's Purpose
Yojimbo558 Offline

Registered: 08/18/00
Posts: 253
Loc: Marina, Ca. USA
Hi Brian,

Your statement of "Kata has no use in a real situation!!!!!!!!!!" Is a comment that is both not uncommon for someone with very little experience.

What's the purpose of Kata? While Kata enables the practioner to focus on their timing, precision, balance and focus...the purpose of Kata is to preserve techniques.

If you look at older pictures of Funakoshi, you'll see him executing throws and grappling techniques within his Karate. The Japanese who'd taken up Karate, boasted that they would out do the Okinawans in their own system. After that you'll note the later pictures cease to show Funokoshi openly sharing them with the Japanese.

After WW II, during the Occupation of Japan, America banned the practise of numerous martial arts, numerous Bujutsu styles went underground and continued to train & pass on their arts.

While many of the Budo schools were allowed to continue to teach due to Americans not understanding the movements they were seeing and equating them as being not unlike shadow boxing.

During WW II, the Japanese played one over on the Okinawans in order to ensure their stiffest resistance to our troops by stating that the Americans that were coming weren't just coming to conquor them...but were cannibals. Okinawa represented the most brutal fighting in the Pacific.

After the war, soldiers during the Occupation began training in several arts while they were there. While there were many who learned various forms of Karate and brought it back to the US and elsewhere...there were numerous fine points and purposes about the katas that wasn't passed on to them.

As I said earlier, Funokoshi stopped fully sharing with the Japanese & later after WW II, many of the instructors didn't share with us the purposes of some of these katas. This is why friends of mine who study Shorenji Ryu Kenpo Karate & Goju Ryu Karate have become very excited by adding Jujutsu to their studies. For this is where they've learned what several of the application movements in their kata's were for.

If you have a good instructor, then you've got someone who has learned what the purpose for the movements within the katas are for.

With the older styles, katas tend to be two person or in some cases more, so that you learn by doing the technique on someone ( and receiving it in turn ).

In your previous thread you chose to quote Bruce Lee...and as you saw, this generated a lot of responses.

Wing Chun was developed by the Shao Lin as a short cut. The various rulers in China always seemed to look to the monks for support in either overthrowing a regime or in maintaining their own. However the monks while aiding in combat afterwards didn't want to commit to a committed alliance, seeing themselves beyond these matters. This attempt on their part to remain neutral, scared even those who had been aided by them and as a result, the Govt. made numerous assaults on the Shao Lin.

Because of all of the hand-to-hand & weapons forms in their system, it was considered that it would take 11 yrs to produce a warrior by their standards. Wing Chun wound up being a short cut where numerous weapons etc were dropped from the curriculm so that the Shao Lin could call upon Monks that would be capable of facing the Regimes warriors in 8 yrs instead of 11.

As was pointed out earlier, Bruce...who was very talented...but did not finish the system.

While many point at Bruce's comments referring to fixed positions and preset forms as proof of why its a waste of time to even look at other avenues...they themselves overlook the fact that Bruce kept an open mind. From Gene LeBelle & others he learned and incorporated techniques and strategies from other styles into his own.

If you're going to reference Bruce, then the most important lesson to remember (( in my opinion )) was his adapting and adding to his knowledge he learned from others into his own system.

Today it is no to hard to come across 1st & 2nd Degree Black Belts who've either created their own systems..."that have dropped all of the useless portions and only kept the stuff that works." These same people are those who've never finished their systems and in nearly all cases remain unaware of what the purposes many of their kata were for.

It's not just a matter of what you want, but what are you willing to invest in learning and becoming proficient in your martial arts.

By your own statements you are barely in the beginning. This isn't a criticism. Once when I was giving a seminar in Pueto Rico, I was asked a question. "What's the best martial art?" You could feel the tension as people who practised Jujujutsu, Karate, TKD, Judo, Aikido & others waited for my response.

The answer was simple, I told them that, "The best martial art or arts, is the one or ones that can captivate and maintain your interest."

Perhaps this particular school just isn't for you. If it isn't filling you with a drive and desire to get in there, then perhaps you should open the phone book write down the addresses & then visit each of the schools. Take a month or two, and watch a few classes from each of them. From that you'll be able to judge based off the classes & instructors what method & system seems most appealing to you. But just because you don't get something doesn't mean it's useless.


#105803 - 06/09/04 09:09 PM Re: Brian -- Kata & it's Purpose
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Hi Eric,

Quite an interesting post. If I may i'd like to add several comments.

First, consider Funakoshi Sensei stopping fully sharing with the Japanese after WWII. As he was 50 or so in 1922 when he went to Japan the first time, after WWII he would have been in his mid 70's. Regardless of his shape he was elderly and what he could share would have been greatly diminished at that time.

As I understand it he spent those years just visiting sites. The control of the schools was really in others hands. The groups chose what their art became. I still believe with Judo's ascendency in Japan (remember Kano was the supporter for the Karateka to move to Japan in the first place), and many of the karateka in university, already were schooled in Judo in prior school, there may have been little need in their minds to explore the grappling arts. Let karate be percussive, it separtes them from the judoka, and many of them already had it too.

As for training Americans (and other foreign nationals) when you consider the short time availble for students, there was little more they realisically could have taught besides straight kata.

On Okinawa, the application of kata, was well known to be rarely taught to short term students. Instead kata practice. I don't think anything was being held back, but karate on Okinawa didn't develop as a combat art, no need for it as Okinawa was a relatively calm place. Instead the in depth use of karate techniques first requires a really good techincian who really believes in their technique. Show somebody many of the applications without years of work and they can't sell it. I believe the older approach was not to share it until somebody could actually do it.

And for those who want quicker answers, let them do them. It's not a race. Different arts serve different purposes. Consider the Shaolin arts with hundreds of forms, so nobody could ever learn more than a piece of them. But what the Shaolin adept could study still works.

The complexity of the issue is compounded when people want simple, quick answers. Those don't exist. The Gracies didn't get their skills in a few short years did they. It took a long time and lots of work.

That's the secret to all of it.

Victor Smith
bushi no te isshinryu

#105804 - 06/10/04 03:00 AM Re: Brian -- Kata & it's Purpose
Yojimbo558 Offline

Registered: 08/18/00
Posts: 253
Loc: Marina, Ca. USA
Hi Victor,

My friends who practise Karate in Puerto Rico are quite senior, one of them is the 2nd highest ranking individual in his style in the Caribbean. Both are Godan's and are very skilled. What shocked Adalberto was when he went to train in Japan and found insights and advanced techniques that weren't shared when he brought his sensei to Puerto Rico.

I've noticed an interesting difference over the years between Japanese Bujutsu & Budo styles. In the Bujutsu styles, the student understands the technique, because they are doing it and implementing it on an uke be it hand to hand or with weapons. While the Bujutsu styles do have some solo forms, the bulk are partner practise...and as a result they know the purpose of why they're doing what they're doing.

The Budo styles tend to have predominantly solo katas and in most cases the student isn't informed as to whether certain movements are for chokes, throws, locks or even in response to a spear or other weapon defense. As mentioned earlier, the purpose for the kata was to preserve the technique by remembering the movement...while avoiding catching the incriminating eye of our American Occupation forces, which had banned numerous styles.

You mentioned Judo...which is a great art...but what's amusing is that if you look at the history, Kano lost control of his system and today, it has become exactly what he set out to stop.

Kano originally was horrified at what was going on in Japan. At the time the thought was Japan had moved away from its warring past and that Japan would never be a major war again. This period saw numerous Japanese Bujutsu systems converting to Budo, where they began dropping numerous techniques from their curriculum...deeming many of these killing techniques no longer having a place in their society.

Kano began with the desire to bring the Bujutsu Systems under one roof so as to preserve and maintain the Ryu's, and prevent their information from becoming lost. Several Bujutsu styles did go with him...but as time went by, and rules were passed again and again to make competitions safer -- eventually the newer students began confining themselves with just the techniques that were accepted in matches and ignored the older ones.

If you look at old pictures of can see the older practioners utilizing atemi's & incorporating some of the techniques that he'd hoped to save. In those older can also see the younger students practising and ignoring these aspects and focusing purely on the tournament aspect.

This led to the Bujutsu Styles leaving while Kano lost control, and his system which is now one of the most widely spread systems on Earth...lacks the very principles and techniques that he had hoped to preserve.


#105805 - 06/10/04 05:10 AM Re: Brian -- Kata & it's Purpose
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH

A few quick comments this morning.

One thing to keep in mind, the Okinawan's really weren't creating their art in the classification formats of the Japanese systems.

That Japanese classification can be used to describe the Okinawan arts doesn't mean it is an accurate description.

Where Japanese arts often arose on the battlefield, and then later became pure arts without purpose (guns really ruined things for sword, spear and bow and arrow after all), that isn't anything close to why the arts developed on Okinawa.

In most cases, the Okinawan arts were simply individual practices that only in later days had 'system' names wrapped around them. Creating systems was really not in the founders ideas, instead working with individuals sharing as appropriate, was the purpose. They were not for any battlefield purpose, even though later soldiers did study them.

The antidotal stories don't describe any real reason for them. They arose out of human interest, not any specific needs, as least as far as general oral history seems to share as I can find it.

When these arts became open, translated into Japan, when the instructor traveled and taught (such as Funakoshi) and created instant instructors (his first students reached black belt in one year), the control of spending a long time learning the art was lost. So short term'er's did what they felt best with far less experience.

In the different case of Kano, Japan losing the war drove a point about the need for martial battlefield efficiency. Rumor has it that was one of the reasons Usheiba softened his Aikido, not being able to compete with Atomic bombs. In Judo's case, turning to Sport, and the Japanese Olympic games, to give it the bie push, gave that art a focus, and yes things went that way.

But no art is a fixed thing. They all move with human experience. That one used it for one purpose and later ones use it for another, is the way human evolution takes place. The art would not move if people really didn't want it to move that way.

If somebody wants judo to move back to Kano, they only have to spend several decades in hard work, getting their own practice that way and then begin teaching those practices which they've honed themself.

See how simple things are? <GRIN>

I'm sure you're right, those who have had a chance to learn some skill and then study in Okinawna and Japan, would be exposed to many things the earlier student's didn't recoginze.

But experience is just that, movement in time and accumulation.


Victor Smith
bushi no te isshinryu

#105806 - 07/01/04 10:35 AM Re: Brian -- Kata & it's Purpose
Brian Mullen Offline

Registered: 02/25/04
Posts: 60
Loc: kcks USA
Hello Yojimbo

I appreciate you input on my views of how important katas are to becoming a "fighter".

Now yes I am still a newbie when it comes to martial arts, I have now been training for about 12-13months, and from the input that I recieved in my other post, I see a little differently but.................I still agree with my original statement, If your purpose is to become an accomplished "fighter" Kata wouldnot be that important.

But I do believe if you want to be an accomplished Martial Artist, Kata is VERY important. If you reread my post i never said that I did not understand why Kata was important, I said to learn how to fight you wouldnt need the forms. In a street fight you wanna react without thinking, and in my opinion you would resort to one of your one steps or sets etc.....! I understand that everything you do as a martial artist is "hidden" in your respective kata's. but on the street when you really need to survive, the practice that you did on the sparring mat, heavy bag,etc....will come into play first. Now, again I understand that kata does have it place, ( just not in the ring )!!!!

Hopefully, I have'nt offended anyone,these are just my views on the matter. and It really shouldnt matter how long a person has been in karate, thats the wonderful thing about livin in this country.

God Bless America


#105807 - 07/01/04 10:47 AM Re: Brian -- Kata & it's Purpose
schanne Offline
breaks things

Registered: 02/18/04
Posts: 4370
Loc: Woodbury NJ
Brian, Hit the floor and give me 50. [IMG][/IMG]

#105808 - 07/01/04 05:31 PM Re: Brian -- Kata & it's Purpose
reaperblack Offline

Registered: 04/30/04
Posts: 558
Loc: Victoria, BC, Canada
Essentially I agree with the statement made about kata not being recalled in a fight, if you aren't familiar with the bunkai, and you don't practise them. The very essence of kata is that it does have a purpose, not just that it looks good or trains you to flow. This of course depends on the style and their katas, some of them are so watered down that they no longer mean anything. I practise shorin ryu, shorin kan and although the bunkai for some katas aren't precisely the way that you might think they are there, and they are in sets. Like this strike is done and these three movements are the counter, end conflict. If you have a good instructor who knows and shows you the bunkai you may develop a different opinion of kata.

#105809 - 07/02/04 11:10 AM Re: Brian -- Kata & it's Purpose
Brian Mullen Offline

Registered: 02/25/04
Posts: 60
Loc: kcks USA
[QUOTE]Originally posted by schanne:
Brian, Hit the floor and give me 50. [IMG][/IMG][/QUOTE]

Sir Yes Sir [IMG][/IMG]

#105810 - 07/04/04 02:42 AM Re: Brian -- Kata & it's Purpose
senseilou Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/14/02
Posts: 2082
Loc: Glendale, Az.
I don't think its a question of the kata...rather how its practiced and how its taught. If taught for the purpose of doing it for your test, and get all kata required before your black belt, you are right, those series of movements are wasting your time. However it does train muscle memory. But if kata is used and taught with specific purpose, one can surely use it in a fight. the first principle we were taught about kata was to perform the kata as your would be fighting. Trouble is, many instructors don't tell you whats going on, so sometimes its hard to see how to use it in a fight. It also depends on what you call a fighter. If you mean in the ring, or in the cage, its not useless as you are practicing your basics, but maybe not as a necessity.So its more how you use the kata and how its taught, rather than just being a kata thing.

In talking about Bujitsu vs Budo I just had an interesting point shared with me. Budo or Bujitsu is not just a Japanesse concept, as many leaders like Robert E. Lee, Alexander the Great, George Patton all had a sense of Bujitsu. Budo while being different then Bujitsu is more a Japaneese concept but still the knights of Europe took their jousting from a product of battle, to a sport of sorts(or contest). So they in essence practiced Budo vs. Bujitsu as well. And even to the extent of todays "war games" its still a form of Budo.

I am not disagreeing that Bujitsu and Budo have changed and their is a marked difference between the two, but thought this idea of both Bujitsi and Budo not being just Japanesse is an interesting concept.

#105811 - 07/07/04 01:25 PM Re: Brian -- Kata & it's Purpose
Ogoun Offline

Registered: 03/22/04
Posts: 96
Loc: Fort Myers, FL
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Brian Mullen:
Hello Yojimbo

I appreciate you input on my views of how important katas are to becoming a "fighter"...

...In a street fight you wanna react without thinking, and in my opinion you would resort to one of your one steps or sets etc.....! I understand that everything you do as a martial artist is "hidden" in your respective kata's. but on the street when you really need to survive, the practice that you did on the sparring mat, heavy bag,etc....will come into play first. Now, again I understand that kata does have it place, ( just not in the ring )!!!!

My personal experiences proved otherwise. On several occasions, I have reacted w/o thinking during a sparring seesions and a street fight. My reaction and techniques came directly from the kata. At that time, the training focus on doing kata, and kata only. We probably did each kata a minimum of five to six times a night. Once you clear your mind, muscle memory from training in kata will take over.

#105812 - 07/07/04 02:58 PM Re: Brian -- Kata & it's Purpose
chinto01 Offline

Registered: 03/03/04
Posts: 102
I believe that kata can be used in a real situation. What you have to do is examine the kata carefully and look and the individual movements. Each sequence is a self defense technique in itself. These techniques may need to be modified a little for your use but the basics are there. Study hard and you will find the answers.


#105813 - 07/12/04 03:53 PM Re: Brian -- Kata & it's Purpose
Yojimbo558 Offline

Registered: 08/18/00
Posts: 253
Loc: Marina, Ca. USA
Hi Brian,

One of the big differences that inhibits a lot of people understanding the benefits of kata, is due to several Budo Styles utilizing solo practice katas with few partner practise ones.

As mentioned before, this was done on purpose and was done for both hiding and preserving the technique.

In partner practise katas which are abundant in the bujutsu forms, you learn the proper angling and deflecting, entering, trapping etc.

Many of the budo styles differ simply in that the reasons are not openly explained. While most bujutsu styles are.

Hi Victor, actually the Okinawans did have their own fighting systems. For centuries however Okinawa maintained its freedom not based on the strength of its military numbers...but because the greater militaries of both China & Japan coveted Okinawa. It was the distance involved along with supply, strike distance etc. that factored heavily into their maintaining their freedom until eventually Japan was able to reach out and conquor her.

Neither Judo or Aikido today are what their creators set them out to be. Kano had founded Judo for the purpose of perserving and maintaining the bujutsu styles while Japan was going through its fervor of reinventing their styles and dropping many of their leathal techniques with the belief that they were past war. The younger generation excited with the competitions and newer rules simply stopped practising the other elements and today Judo is exactly what Kano had set out to stop.

Ueshiba, who had hoped to inherit Daito Ryu of Takeda Sensei...created his own system. He targeted not small or isolated locations to begin and expand but rather focused on military and high political officials. The truth of the matter is that it was Ueshiba's students who named his art Aikido...he had referred to it as Aiki Budo. As to Ueshiba, softening Aikido techniques...the harder Yoshinkan Aikido is closer to how he taught it rather than the softer methods that many are more familiar with today.


#105814 - 07/12/04 07:25 PM Re: Brian -- Kata & it's Purpose
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH

I grant you Okinawan did historically have its fighting systems. But those times were so distant we cannot say what they actually were.

We know in the 1600's (?) when the Japanese landed, the fight was almost over before it began. Okinawan defenses were incapable of putting dent in the Japanese and the Okinawan king was an instant captive.

That things were not economically advanteageous to 'take' Okinawa before that hardly changes the issue.

And those arts, which may have something in common with later karate, or may have little in common with later karate, are rather lost today.

Just some opinions, there's little hard evicence IMO.


#105815 - 07/29/04 07:09 AM Re: Brian -- Kata & it's Purpose

Dear All,

Firstly to correct a few errors concerning Judo and Dr Jigoro Kano's vision of it.

If you read the Kodokan Judo Book written by Kano himself, he states that he wanted to preserve the martial arts of japan in a format that provided structured learning based upon universal physical principles, such as a persons centre of gravity or the fact that joints can only bend a certain number of ways.

He also wanted to add a strong moral element as he wanted to introduce Judo as an educational tool in Japanese schools to help turn out, fit, disciplined and morally correct people.

He noted that many of the styles of Jujitsu, Yawara and other grappling arts he had studied often lacked a unifying principle that could link techniques together. He said that in some styles moves were taught and used without any real understanding of why they worked. As well as this he found the practice would often result in serious injury.

His answer to this was Judo. He grouped all the techniques he had learned by their similarities, for example the Hip throws which include, Harai goshi, O goshi, Uke Goshi. Once he had done this he trimmed these techniques down to the ones that fitted in with his principle of giving way to use the opponents own weight and size against them to win.

He used this system as the basis for beginners and set up rules for competition so that practice need not lead to such crippling injuries.

He did keep in Atemi wazi(striking techniques) as well as more practical self defence techniques in the form of Goshin Jitsu but these were only to be studied once you reach the higher grades.

In reference to Kata there are several in Judo pretty much all partner based. They are not designed to show you how to fight but to show you how a technique works in a slow method so that it can be more easily remembered. The actual execution of a technique on an opponent who is resisting is left for the student to develop through, being taught and experience gained in Randori(free play)and shiai(competetion).

To say that Judo today is not what Kano envisaged it being, depends on which club you go to. Some are entirely sport orientated and focus on the techniques that work best towards this end, these clubs oftenn ignore the more traditional things like kata and self defence. Other clubs take the more traditional approach and focus all aspects of the art but are more concerned with perfection of all techniques rather than thiose which prove most effective.

Yet all clubs as a rule adhere to the moral principles set out by Kano.

sorry for the essay but there are far to many general statements being made on this forum.

In relation to Kata in arts such as karate and taekwondo, there are as many different explainations for them as there are people practicing them.

Some say they are meant to be used as is, so a downwards block(neryo maki in taekwondo) is intend to stop a kick to the groin by applying force to counter force.

Others take the idea that there are moves hidden in the patterns that relate to more complicated techniques like throws and in many cases pressure points(George Dillman and the Dragon Society International are big on this).

Then there is the view I agree with, that Kata show the general principles of an art. these include cordination, timing , weight shifting, striking, stance, focus, calmness and most importantly breathing which links all of the above.

whatever your view kata can help develop good fighters but it depends on the students own natural abilities, some may take to fighting naturally and only need learn the actual techniques they will employ, others who are less able or mobile might find Kata a benefit as it gives them a way of developing there abilities over time without serious strain or injury.

as to my martial arts experience, I have a practiced Taekwondo for 10 years, thai boxing for 3 years, Judo for 2 years,Jujitsu for 2 years, boxing for 1 year, tai chi and chigung for 1 year.

All this has led me to stop viewing one style as better than another but to look at what each can offer me in reference to self defence.

The main difference is in time, thai boxing is probably the most effective in terms of learning self defence in a short time, as it will give you the ability to take and give devastating strikes as well as covering several ranges most notably the standing trapping distance(the clinch). But it also has downsides in that you have to be fit to do it and it does not include much ground work.

On the opposite side is Tai chi which can be practised by anyone but is not readily applicable to self defence and requires time to master it.

hope you find this as interesting a subject as I do and take my views as what they are views(there is no balck and white answer when it comes to fighting).


Nick Boulton

#105816 - 07/29/04 12:25 PM Re: Brian -- Kata & it's Purpose
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5849
Loc: USA

I think that there is an article in the article archive here on this site, written by a LEO detailing how a "move" from Tensho (maybe) kata saved his life.

Might be worth while trying to find it

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