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#106029 - 07/29/04 07:35 PM Trying to understand Kata/Forms
kakushiite Offline
Member

Registered: 02/06/03
Posts: 266
Loc: Ithaca, NY, USA
Under this thread name, Matt Keller posted the following on the Martial Arts Talk Forum. I thought it best to post my reply here (see below):

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hello,

my respects to all martial artists.

I have recently come to realize the potential of this website for my own training. Whilst I might not agree with everything that is said in this forum it inspires me to new heights. It seems that there is a very wide range of views here and

I find this simulating. Anyway I have a question for consideration.

My experience suggests that the techniques recorded in kata/forms are not particularly useful when it comes to ďrealityĒ training. Whilst it is possible for me (and many others) to envisage a vast number of applications for them, I usually find it impossible to put them into action against an unwilling opponent. The exceptions to this, I find, occur once the application has deviated sufficiently from the movement of the form/kata as to make it unbelievable that this was the originally intended application. Actually there are a few exceptions but they are few and far between considering the vast array of techniques that seem to be contained within kata/forms.

I have attempted to follow the latest popular theories concerning kata application but have always been disappointed by either their lack of effectiveness against an unwilling opponent or their lack of similarity to the original kata/forms movements which they are attempting to explain.

This leaves me with a number of possibilities.
1. Kata/form techniques were not created for the purpose of fighting.
2. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but were deliberately changed to hide their application.
3. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but by people inexperienced in fighting.
4. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but over time became corrupt due to a lack of understanding.
5. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but over time were deliberately watered down in order to teach to the next generation.
6. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting and have not been changed over time or their meaning hidden but I lack a good understanding.

Obviously I have been pursuing option 6 for a long time now, but so far I have failed to understand the majority of kata/form techniques. This has led me to consider options 1-5. Does this seem reasonable?

Perhaps there are other options? Which option would you take?

Your feed back ought to help me determine which direction to take my training in.

Many thanks

Matt

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Matt,

Good post. Lot's of useful questions.

No surprises for those who have read my other posts. This one is another long one.

I canít speak for all forms and kata, but I have studied a variety of Okinawan kata.

Anything we say about them is pure guesswork. They donít come with a manual from the authors. It is likely that at least some movements/combinations go back hundreds of years and that the kata themselves are blends of ideas from many, many sources.

But we can analyze the movements to understand some basic principles. For example, many kata have a variety of turns and forward movements. Among other things, these train the student in good body mechanics. Fast, powerful blocks, strikes, locks, throws (and many, but not all kicks) are dependent upon good body mechanics to leverage body mass. Turns and forward movements teach those mechanics.

Some techniques were probably designed for a single use, but many are multipurpose. In general, the more uses you can get out of a series of movements, the less specific you should expect these to be, since the movements are blending together a variety of fighting techniques and concepts.

For example, I have a variety of applications for the shutos (side to side/corner) found in Kusanku/Pinan Shodan (Kanku Dai/Heian Nidan)

Against a left strike, the movements of my two shutos to the left so closely follow the kata, it would be difficult for a non-practicioner to see any difference. (My combination also uses a follow-up of the shutos to the right. Although the hand movements differ, the leg movements and body pivot is identical to the kata.)

Against a right strike, the similarity is less apparent. I blend the initial shutos to achieve a simultaneous block/counter-strike. The follow up (second two shutos to the right) also differs from the actual kata movements by blending in other ideas in the kata.

But what is most important is that throughout, I follow the body mechanics mapped out in the kata. In this case it is body rotations to the left then right, each including a step forward midway in the turn.

Some combinations make use of the next movement, a turn back to the left.

As I noted above, leveraging your mass comes from turns and forward movements, which here are combined.

You have a valid issue that many combinations donít really work well against a non-compliant attacker, and this is especially true against bigger, stronger attackers, something quite likely in a real life encounter. In many cases, this is because so many combinations have locking and throwing techniques. We should expect non-compliant attackers generally donít let you do these techniques. They prevent you from doing so in a variety of ways, such smashing you in the head as you attempt to grab, lock or throw them.

But this does not mean these techniques donít work. Itís just that you have a prerequisite. You have to temporarily (say half a second to a little more than a second) get your aggressive attacker to be compliant, momentarily compliant. And that, to me, is how kata provides comprehensive combinations.

In order to set up many grappling techniques, you need to effectively disorient, weaken, or unbalance the attacker. You do that with kicks to the groin and knees, and fists/palmheels/elbows to the nose, eyes, neck, throat and chin. (One option for the chin strike is to from the side causing the head to spin.)

If these initial ďset upĒ counter attacks are not successful, then you wont' get the opening you need to follow up with locks and throws. But if you do get momentary disorientation or unbalancing, you will have created the openings so you can continue with grappling techniques.

The question about compliant attackers seems to me like a question as to why you canít checkmate a person in a move or two. Setting up checkmate against a non-compliant chess partner requires many, many moves. He doesnít let you in. He is busy attacking, counterattacking and blocking. You have to break your way in by carefully and relentlessly smashing through his defenses to set up the final finishing technique.

You have correctly identified the problem regarding non-compliance in training. In the dojo, you really canít utilize effective setup techniques. (At least not in any I have trained in.) I would be surprised if you could keep many students if you let them hit each other full power in the nose or throat, stab each other in the eyes, stomp on each other's knees or kick each other in the groin.

But itís not just the setups you canít do full power in the dojo. You really canít do many of the follow-up grappling techniques all that aggressively either. If you use your full mass in a lock against someone who isnít all that compliant, he just might wind up with a badly damaged joint. That is why in Aikido attackers typically jump into a roll when the lock is executed. The alternative is an elbow, wrist or shoulder injury that can take a long time to heal. (Months for younger students, and sometimes years for older ones.) It looks phony to those untrained in the grappling arts, but it is the only way to keep training.

You are also correct to note that kata, by itself, doesn't give you all the tools you need to build effective self defense skills. Kata practice, by itself, just doesn't cut it in my book.

I like to think that on the journey of good self-defense, kata serves mostly as the roadmap, but you need a vehicle and a driver.

For me, practicing in the air is just one leg of a multi-legged stool needed for developing good fighting skills. You also need lots of pad/bag work to get the counter kicks and strikes fast and powerful. You also need tons of repetitions with partners to hone the grappling components. And finally, you need strengthening exercises (weights, etc.) to make all your techniques stronger. But practicing in the air is a great complement to bag/partner/conditioning work.

I recommend an alternative to doing complete kata, which I do sparingly. Instead, I recommend that students focus more on repetitions of specific series of movements, those that make up complete applications. This breakout of patterns should be practiced both as the movements appear in kata, and equally important, as they appear in specific applications.

The reason for this breakout is to increase the repetitions of good fighting patterns. The various combinations I have that come from the four shuto movements described above can be done very quickly. Typically 3-4 seconds. In 15 minutes, that results in around 200 reps.

If a student were to do this five days a week for a year, he would complete over 50,000 reps. I think all would agreed that with that kind of repetition, the combinations from this pattern would be deeply imbedded in his psyche, ready to explode upon an attack.

And this is done in some arts. I would be surprised if a boxer training several hours per week didn't practice the left jab/right cross combination close to 50,000 times in a year. They do it on the heavy bag, the speed bag, shadow boxing, drilling, and in the ring. This basic unit of boxing becomes part of them, unconscious, completely reactionary. They don't have to think to execute, the movements are reactive.

This kind of concentration on specific combinations helps make the movements not just reactive, but precise, and very fast which is a key component of power. And the accurate targeting of power is what is needed to quickly gain compliance from large aggressive attackers. This opens up the rapid follow-up of effective grappling movements, just as the boxer may have trained to follow up the jab/cross with a left hook. The three strikes come together as a seamless whole.

This is not to criticize the practice of kata, just as it is presented to us, one combination after another. But to get really good at fighting combinations, it is my belief that it is best to break the movements/combinations out and practice them as though they were their own standalone mini-kata. Once you get really good at the combinations, then focusing on the practice of the whole kata makes more sense to me.

I do recognize that most students of the art are constrained to do what is done in the dojo they train in. And it is uncommon in many for significant repetition of specific kata movements. Many would argue that there are just too many other important things to be practicing during training.

This concept of massive repetition (air, bag, partners) is just one of many ideas on how to get good at fighting while maintaining some faithfulness to the traditions of the art (kata). But it works.

[This message has been edited by kakushiite (edited 07-29-2004).]

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#106030 - 07/29/04 08:36 PM Re: Trying to understand Kata/Forms
Anonymous
Unregistered


I must add to Kakushiiteís comments that the list of possibilities I gave initially has been extended as a result of the discussion on "Martial Art Talk". Also kakushiiteís post has prompted me to add option 9 to class B. For those of you who have been following the original post I have joined option 6 and 7 (prompted by cxtís insistence), so now there is no option 7. I have renamed some of the classes as well.

CLASS A : The non-violent theory
1. Kata/form techniques were not created for the purpose of fighting.
CLASS B : The esoteric theory
2. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but were deliberately changed to hide their application.
9. Kata/form techniques and/or principles were created for the purpose of fighting but require setup techniques which for some reason where left out of the kata.
CLASS C : The naive theory
3. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but by people inexperienced in fighting.
CLASS D : The corruption theory
4. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but over time became corrupt due to a lack of understanding.
5. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but over time were deliberately watered down in order to teach to the next generation.
8. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but have become corrupt over time due to the creativity of various individuals.
CLASS E : The simplistic theory
6. Kata/form techniques and/or principles were created for the purpose of fighting and have not been changed over time or their meaning hidden and enough application to fighting will eventually reveal their truly effective power.

I guess what is developing here is a list of possibilities to check for people interested in kata bunkai.

Kakushiite, can I assume you are happy with option 9? Also I know we can apply kata to fighting but isnít it just easier to forget kata and just do fighting? I know it would be like reinventing the wheel so to speak but Iíd rather use a new wheel than an old one that has been a bit battered. Do you know what I mean?

Matt

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#106031 - 07/29/04 08:51 PM Re: Trying to understand Kata/Forms
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3219
Loc: Derry, NH
Hi Kakushite,

Thanks for moving this thread here.

Matt, of course it is difficult to comment on what you've experienced not knowing where and how you've trained.

Kata practice flows in many different directions.

Part of the issue is the potential application in any kata is so vast, sometimes people feel threatend if they're not trying to grasp all of it. Logically only a small extract of the training is required for solid defensive movement.

The larger principle isn't the minimum movement required to trounce an opponent, it is the subsidiary values that arise from hard kata training. Kata is an exercise in energy management, vastly different from just throwing thousands of jabs and crosses.

Karate was not designed for self defense, Okinawa had no underlying need for karate-ka to remain safe. Doesn't negate its power, just the value to the training was far more than just away to break arms, etc.

I honestly believe that is still the case. Antidotes aside, most of us will never be called on to defend ourselves, and I pray that remains the state of affairs.

On the other hand depending on what applications you're talking about, that you can't sell them on uncompliant individuals may have other reasons than the techniques don't work.

First, to apply the technique you may really have to destroy your attacker in the process. And if you're not willing to make that commitment, then the technique may not be the right choice for that situation. Thus the case for a wider range of answers than just afew.

Second the skill to apply the kata may be more difuse than simple applicaition drills. of course those simple application drills aren't really simple, instead they're long range skill building execises, on how to fit into a specific attack, and sell the movment, especially if you would never do it in real life. The goal isn't the answer, but the underlyign reason you should be working your tail off.

Most applications take quite a level of skill and knowledge to make work. Nobody ever said the use of karate was to be easy, and those that did, were just misleading one.

The answer oftimes is the angle of entry, not just straight into an attack. Or the turns are defenses against grabs from the rear, etc.

But if you're not taught this way, to work all of this out on your own, is work.

On the other hand if you disblieve kata applications work, I'd be happy to show you how Yang Tai Chi Chauns press can cave in your chest. My students don't allow me to work slow motion on them, they've been hurt too many times.... oops wasn't supposed to mention that.

Hope this offers something to consider,

Victor Smith
bushi no te isshinryu

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#106032 - 07/29/04 08:55 PM Re: Trying to understand Kata/Forms
kakushiite Offline
Member

Registered: 02/06/03
Posts: 266
Loc: Ithaca, NY, USA
Matt,

My self-defense combinations are all directly from the kata. I use initial turns/forward movements to evade, block and counter, which set up the locks and throws, which can set up addition kick/strike counters, which can set up additional locks and throws.

I have extensive descriptions of these ideas on the following threads on this forum:

1. Hidden bunkai
2. Kata has no use in a real situation
3. Katas are given too much credit
4. One kata 5,10,15 years
5. Why no Kata?????
6. Bunkai from bassai dai
7. Heian/pinan Kata or Kata(plural)?
8. Rate my application and make suggestions
9. Striking and Grappling in Karate
10. Pinan Yondan bunkai

The last three have detailed descriptions of kata application.

So to answer your question, in my approach to kata bunkai (one of many) nothing is left out. There is nothing to be added. The big attacker tries to punch you in the head, you just do the kata, and the all of a sudden the big guy's on the ground. Of the many things I find so magical about kata, two are worth mentioning here. First, each component movement is so effective because they comply with so many tried and true fighting principles. Second, you can look to kata for complete applications, from the initial evasion/block through the series of counters, locks and throws, just by following the sequential movements in the kata.

These descriptions above and in my posts tend to concentrate on one aspect of kata, the underlying fighting principles. But that is only one of many facets of kata. There are a variety on less fighting-oriented benefits as well, too complex to go into here.

But if you are trying to better understand and categorize the many purposes of kata, I suggest this forum is no better place to start. There are many threads that have great insight from some serious, long term students of the arts.

I have learned a lot from the ideas posted here and you can too. Have at it.

[This message has been edited by kakushiite (edited 07-30-2004).]

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#106033 - 07/30/04 08:35 AM Re: Trying to understand Kata/Forms
kakushiite Offline
Member

Registered: 02/06/03
Posts: 266
Loc: Ithaca, NY, USA
Matt,

I would like to comment on your classifications. First I eliminated number 9 because it seemed to come from a misunderstanding of one of my posts. I have grouped some together.

~~~~~
2. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but were deliberately changed to hide their application.
~~~~~

Some movements are generalizations for many movements and so by definition are not specific and therefore different from actual applications. I have more on the the notion of hidden, below, in response to number 6, below.

~~~~~
4. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but over time became corrupt due to a lack of understanding.
8. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but have become corrupt over time due to the creativity of various individuals.
~~~~~

I donít see much difference between the two. I expect that corrupt means they changed, which many, but not all have. Naihanchi is a good example of a kata that has changed little over the past hundred years.

For those that have changed, probably both reasons are a factor to some extent. Hereís an example. Eizo Shimabukuro, founder of Shobayashi Shorin Ryu drops his hands before many turns in the Pinan Kata. This is a unique approach to directional changes in kata, and I am sure he has his reasons. But by dropping his arms, he is leaving out the ďbridgeĒ applications that use multiple directions against a single opponent, movements that require the hands up for many strikes, locks and throws that leverage body mass by using the turns in the kata. (And interestingly enough, the tape that has this kata claims to quote him as saying that he teaches the kata unchanged from what he was taught by Chibana. This is almost certainly untrue.)

~~~~~
5. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but over time were deliberately watered down in order to teach to the next generation.
~~~~~

There is probably some truth to this. Mark Bishop quotes Chozo Nakama as saying that Itosu simplified many movements in his kata. Specifically he mentioned that many initial counters were simultaneous and often more open-handed, and Itosu changed these to a block, then strike pattern with more closed hands. Let's not forget that Itosu had the responsibility of introducing karate into the school system, so watering down of technique should be no surprise.

There is another aspect of kata that seems to be hidden. One thing that surprises most students of other fighting arts such as Muay Thai, PMA and western boxing arts is the lack of attention kata seems to give to head strikes and defense against them. In many kata, the vast majority of blocks appear to be designed to deflect strikes to the abdomen. But we all know that it is likely that a big attacker might opt to target the head. The "school" version of karate rightly leaves out the attacks to the head, as they just are not appropriate for school kids. But several blocks that appear to be designed for solely for strikes to the body can easily be slightly modified to block effectively against head strikes. You can see this in the contrast Wado kata with those of Shotokan/Shito Ryu, which they are closely related to. Wado has adapted the kata taught by Funakoshi and Mabuni to protect the head.

~~~~~
6. Kata/form techniques and/or principles were created for the purpose of fighting and have not been changed over time or their meaning hidden and enough application to fighting will eventually reveal their truly effective power.
~~~~~

To the novice virtually everything is hidden. If you donít see the attacker, how can you know what a movement is for. You donít know where he is, whether he is grabbing, striking or kicking. To someone untrained in grappling, how are they to know the many locks that are inherent in the movements. To someone who doesn't know about the existence of pressure points all over the body, how is he to understand the various strikes to them.

To me watching kata is like watching a chess game but only being able to see the pieces of one side. Each move has a purpose but without seeing the opponent's movements it is not all that obvious whether he is attacking, blocking, seting up a move, etc.

~~~~~
1. Kata/form techniques were not created for the purpose of fighting.
~~~~~

Kata are created for many reasons, and arguably the underlying reason is for fighting, but it certainly is not the only reason. The practice of kata benefits strength, balance, health, stamina. It reduces stress, leads to a more serene mind, and so on.

~~~~~
3. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but by people inexperienced in fighting.
~~~~~

As It is my opinion that there is no merit to this statement. We don't know who created many kata, but the thought that they were untrained in the arts is pure cynicism. The kata survive precisely because the masters that created them had a great desire to pass on their great fighting techniques.

We do know that Itosu himself is credited with creating several kata. We also know he spent his lifetime devoted to the art.

We all have our reasons for practicing kata. And they tend to change over time. When I was young, I wanted to get really good at self-defense. Now my goals are different. Kata is meditative, and it keeps me strong and flexible.

[This message has been edited by kakushiite (edited 07-30-2004).]

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#106034 - 07/30/04 10:54 AM Re: Trying to understand Kata/Forms
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5820
Loc: USA
Matt

Seriosuly not trying to be a horse-arse here!!

But your methodolgy needs some serious work.

You keep trying to make a singular view of kata fit your model--rather than build your model around the nature of kata.

Kinda like shooting the arrow THEN drawing the circles of the target AROUND the arrow.

Your "either-or" approach--ie. kata MUST BE "option A" OR "option B"

Is fundamentally flawed.

The reality is that kata pretty much has aspects of ALL 9 of your sections.

Your trying to force it be "one OR the other."

When depending on style, teacher, etc it can be part #1 AND #3 AND #9 etc.

Also exactly to what point on your list kata would go depends quite a bit on whom is teaching it.

You can walk into to schools (same style) and see two very different approachs to kata.

Makes it very hard to "pigeon-hole" or labal what kata is or is not.

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#106035 - 07/30/04 05:31 PM Re: Trying to understand Kata/Forms
Anonymous
Unregistered


cxt, I never said that the options on my list were mutually exclusive. Some are and some aren't. Happy now?
---
This is the list that just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Itís going to take me a while to work my way through it.

CLASS A : The non-violent theory
1. Kata/form techniques were not created for the purpose of fighting.
10. Kata/forms are exercises in energy management which can be used for fighting.
CLASS B : The esoteric theory
2. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but were deliberately changed to hide their application.
9. Kata/form techniques and/or principles were created for the purpose of fighting but require setup techniques which for some reason were left out of the kata.
CLASS C : The naive theory
3. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but by people inexperienced in fighting.
CLASS D : The corruption theory
4. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but over time became corrupt due to a lack of understanding.
5. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but over time were deliberately watered down in order to teach to the next generation.
8. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but have become corrupt over time due to the creativity of various individuals.
CLASS E : The simplistic theory
6. Kata/form techniques and/or principles were created for the purpose of fighting and have not been changed over time or their meaning hidden and enough application to fighting will eventually reveal their truly effective power.
11. Kata/form techniques and/or principles were created for the purpose of fighting and have not been changed over time or their meaning hidden it is simply a case of switching between a ballistic application and grappling applications and visa versa to apply them.

Note 1: The options here are not necessary mutually exclusive.
Note 2: Different options may apply to different kata or kata sub sections.
---
Victor Smith, does option 10 describe your point of view?
---
Kakushiite, I kept 9 in because it might be true, but I admit it was a misunderstanding. Is option 11 a more accurate description of your view point?
---
Also there seems to be emerging 3 distinct levels:
1. Techniques,
2. Principles,
3. Exercises.
Perhaps this will be a way of simplifying things in future.

Matt

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#106036 - 07/30/04 06:53 PM Re: Trying to understand Kata/Forms
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3219
Loc: Derry, NH
Hi Matt,

Victor Smith, does option 10 describe your point of view?

---CLASS A : The non-violent theory
1. Kata/form techniques were not created for the purpose of fighting.
10. Kata/forms are exercises in energy management which can be used for fighting.

Well in part, but it would be incorrect to consider forms for energy management non-violent.

Not advocating violence (excpet where I choose to advocate violence of course), the purpose of greater energy development is to explode into the application with greater energy, hence more destructive power.

I always find it cute when the theory is advanced that it doesn't matter how you perform your form as long as you learn where to hit.

In my book hitting harder, faster and with greater shocking power is the goal.

That is the underlying reason behind greater energy management in kata.

Of course I only had it pounded into me by many great forms people. Who did better and better forms and could eventually apply those techniques with greater destructiveness.

Part of the picture kata technique doesn't work is the people are either incompently trained or just haven't worked long and hard enough to really sell it.

And no matter what words I wrap around it, the reality is much greater than these words.

Pleasantly,

Victor Smith
bushi no te isshinryu

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#106037 - 07/31/04 12:39 AM Re: Trying to understand Kata/Forms
kakushiite Offline
Member

Registered: 02/06/03
Posts: 266
Loc: Ithaca, NY, USA
Matt,

You modified an idea you came up with as follows:

11. Kata/form techniques and/or principles were created for the purpose of fighting and have not been changed over time or their meaning hidden it is simply a case of switching between a ballistic application and grappling applications and visa versa to apply them.

I am curious how have you come to the conclusion that kata has not changed over time? Much of it has changed dramatically. Look at the varieties of Passai/Bassai. Look at the differences in Kushanku between the Kyan lineages and the Itosu lineages. Look at the Pinans among the five major Itosu lineages (Shotokan, Kobayashi, Shito Ryu, Shudokan, Okinawan Kempo).

I also wonder on what basis do you state that meaning is not hidden. If it takes years of training to figure out meaning, many would argue that it is hidden. In my opinion, the only way not to have hidden meaning is to have a comprehensive instruction manual directly from the many creators and influencers of all the techniques that comprise a single kata.

Regarding your list, you are making progress but are far from complete.

We can debate whether kata wasn't designed for fighting or that it was.

That it wasn't designed by great fighters or that it was.

That it has changed over time or that it hasn't.

That each movement works as is, or if slight modifications are needed to make movements effective.

That it can be used as is for complete combinations (from initial block to taking the opponent to the ground) or that additional movements (oyo) must be added.

That the movements are for energy management (developing great speed and power) or that the movements were designed to keep old men strong, flexible and healthy.

That it is to teach fighting only, or that it is to teach an art form that transcends fighting.

That it teaches a way to crush or kill your opponent or that it teaches a way to subdue him gently with little or no injury.

That it gives solely defensive applications or that it includes offensive movements as well.

That it emphasizes evasive techniques, or that it provides combinations for direct trading of blows with no tai sabaki.

That all movements have some self-defense interpretation or that some movements have no application at all.

That turns are designed to face new opponents or that turns are designed to generate power.

That it is primarily for kicking and striking, or that it is primarily for grappling or a mix of both

That it is designed for children, or that it is designed for adults.

That it was designed not to appeal to roughnecks whose goal is to learn quickly how to hurt people, or that it was designed for all who want to train in the martial arts, whatever their ultimate goals.

That it was designed to prepare people for military service and combat, or that it was designed to train common people to defend themselves and their families.

That it was designed to make a person a good fighter, or that it was designed to make a person more moral, and less inclined to fight.

Respected students of the arts have argued all of the above, and that there are many other purposes for kata as well. As cxt argues above, it is very difficult to pigeon-hole kata. From Okinawa alone, there are probably some 70 or more empty hand kata, many of these with many variations. Add in an equal or greater number of weapons kata. That is just the Okinawan. Go to China, you can multiply that number several times just to get started.

All this makes it very difficult to make generalizations about such a vast body of movements with such a diverse history.

Since we can't go back in time and interview the many hundreds, if not thousands of masters that contributed to the kata/forms we have today, we can never be certain about many of our speculations regarding why the masters designed and modified them they way the have.

[This message has been edited by kakushiite (edited 07-31-2004).]

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#106038 - 07/31/04 05:55 PM Re: Trying to understand Kata/Forms
Anonymous
Unregistered


Come on get bigger !!!

CLASS A : The non-violent theory
1. Kata/form techniques were not created for the purpose of fighting.
13. Kata/forms are simply movements and have no meaning.
14. Kata/forms are movements for the purpose of teaching morality.
CLASS B : The esoteric theory
2. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but were deliberately changed to hide their application.
9. Kata/form techniques and/or principles were created for the purpose of fighting but require setup techniques which for some reason were left out of the kata.
10. Kata/forms are exercises in energy management which can be used for fighting.
12. Kata/forms were not created as such but came into being through a process of evolution.
CLASS C : The naive theory
3. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but by people inexperienced in fighting.
CLASS D : The corruption theory
4. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but over time became corrupt due to a lack of understanding.
5. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but over time were deliberately watered down in order to teach to the next generation.
8. Kata/form techniques were created for the purpose of fighting but have become corrupt over time due to the creativity of various individuals.
CLASS E : The simplistic theory
6. Kata/form techniques and/or principles were created for the purpose of fighting and have not been changed over time neither is their meaning esoteric and enough application to fighting will eventually reveal their truly effective power.
11. Kata/form techniques and/or principles were created for the purpose of fighting and have not been changed over time neither is their meaning esoteric it is simply a case of switching between a ballistic application and grappling applications and visa versa to apply them.

Note 1: The options here are not necessary mutually exclusive.
Note 2: Different options may apply to different kata or kata sub sections.
---
Victor, apologies, I have put option 10 into class B now.
---
kakushiite, I have replaced the word hidden with the word esoteric, to avoid misunderstanding. Thank you for your list of possibilities many of them are already included in my list but I have added the ones that were not. I must reiterate Note 1 and Note 2 both of these imply that I realise you canít necessarily pigeon hole things.
---
Also there seems to be 3 levels of bunkai emerging as well
1. Fighting; Offence and Defence
2. Fighting; Defence
3. Personal development
Plus, a simplification may also come from 3 levels of time:
1. Creation time (The time when the kata was created)
2. Intermediate time (The time between when the kata was created and Modern Time)
3. Modern time (Recent history defined by the recording of kata in know surviving media)

Yours in complexity
Matt

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