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#107678 - 04/21/05 05:52 PM View on the purpose of Kata

This started on another post and seemed to be going somewhere so perhaps we can continue here.

Please provide your view on the purpose on kata. What is/was it meant to do for us as MA.

Definition: A system of basic body positioning and movement excercises.

When I first started MA I was told kata was a formal set of techniques set down to practice the basics while entertaining the idea of being attacked by multiple attackers.

That is why there is several kata's all basic and most advanced techniques are introduced here and differnet attack scinarios used.

I here a lot of people comparing kata to sparring I beleive these are two very different forms of practice.

#107679 - 04/21/05 07:18 PM Re: View on the purpose of Kata

I've seen two explanations and I agree with them both:

To teach responses to HAPV

To teach concepts and give long aerobic workouts which teach coordiantion more thoroughly.

First one is more Okinawan, second is more Chinese, and seen in styles which karate doesn't descend from

(Thanks Victor Smith)

As a karateka, it has taken a long time to accept number two. Maybe the higher katas like Knku and Gojushiho are closer to the Chinese kata so it is easier to see after practicing them for a while.

Kata doesn't teach fighting, it teaches some techniques, strategies and responses that are msot likely to occur in a randoma attack. Some ideas work in fighting (like "climbing the vine" in Chinto, the counter to a tackle/shoot in the beginning of the Passai salutation), and are more likely to be in the styles which aren't ancestral to karate.

#107680 - 04/21/05 07:46 PM Re: View on the purpose of Kata
kenposan Offline

Registered: 08/23/01
Posts: 633
Loc: Columbus, Ohio
kata can have many purposes.

I think at a base level kata is nothing more than an encyclopedia of a particular style's techniques. I don't personally buy the concept of the "prearranged fighting sequence" because fights don't happen prearranged.

I do think some techniques flow in the same order from kata, particularly for joint locks. But I do not accept the the whole (to use Naihanchi as an example) fighting with your back to a wall against three attackers thing. That may be a good way to get a beginner to visualize the movements but I don't think that is the initial intent, again, because fights just don't happen that way.

Of course kata can also be aerobic exercise if you practice them intensely, or they can be relaxing and meditative if you slow them down a bit. Great for developing focus, like doing sazen (moving meditation). Maybe not quite as relaxing as Tai Chi...

#107681 - 04/21/05 09:06 PM Re: View on the purpose of Kata
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
Kata teaches many things. Kata and kumite are different, but kata teaches both our bodies and minds what to do when fighting.

1. Kata teaches our bodies how to move properly.
2. Kata teaches us how to position our bodies to maintain maximum stability, mobility, and stamina.
3. Kata teaches us how to generate power properly for maximum impact and maximum speed.
4. Kata teaches us how and where to attack an opponent.
5. Kata teaches a variety of techniques that can be used in a variety of situations.
6. Kata teaches us strategies to deal with violent situations.
There are more, but I don't feel like writing more. However, it is important to know that kata teaches us principles that can be applied to a wide variety of situations. In wrestling a takedown is a takedown. It may not always hit how you practice it, but if you practice it properly it will work. The same goes for a right cross. The same goes for kata. Kata should not be done only as an excercise of simple performance or with ludacris and unrealistic bunkai like so many "gendai karate" schools do. Once the sequence is internalized it must be trained with proper timing (combat as opposed to performance) and techniques must be trained both individually and in different sequences with a partner who is attacking FOR REAL. If you practice Shotokan Dan, from your explainations of kata I will bet the explainations of technique as well as their execution is the reason why you cannot train your kata for combat. To develop your kata you should check out Vince Morris. He is one of the few Shotokan guys on the right path.

#107682 - 04/21/05 09:31 PM Re: View on the purpose of Kata

I have always subscribed to the theory that kata are living, breathing catalogs of technique, theory and principle. They are used to transmit the collective teachings of a particular Ryu. I think I just long-winded what Kemposan put, very succinctly.

My belief is that the valuable points made by Medulanet are equally important side-effects of the above theory.

Excellent topic!


#107683 - 04/22/05 01:22 AM Re: View on the purpose of Kata

Kata was never meant to be interpreted as a scenario of being attacked by multiple attackers.

Although some techniques can be considered as response to more than one attacker (Kururunfa: defense against full nelson in back & his friend in front), each part is complete in and of itself. It's more like a menu & less like a book where each paragraph leads to the next.

Each item in the menu is complete & needs nothing else, however if you feel like it, you may add in other items. There are also items that don't go together or items that should be eaten before others. You don't eat everything on the menu just as you don't fight 8 attackers in a basic kata. The founders knew that people don't wait in line to attack so why would they have fashioned kata to mimic this?

I believe that this belief was a result of a lack of understanding by the first non-asians trying to wrap their brains around these exotic fighting arts.

In the long run, kata is closer to dangerous real-life encounters than kumite.

(if you want a treatice on this, I'll get to it tomorrow)


#107684 - 04/22/05 05:58 AM Re: View on the purpose of Kata

Kata are the living parts of the encyclopedia karate. Living because if you do not exercise them you cannot understand them. (You cannot learn kata from seeing it or reading about it alone). Kumite is a free expression of kata/parts of kata/principles from kata.
If your kumite does not embody the techniques or principles of kata, it is not karate. That's why the emhasis is on kata and not on kumite in karate.
Although kata is static, it's application is not. This keeps karate dynamic.
Seperating kumite and kata, as one has no relation with the others indicates to me that you do not understand karate.

#107685 - 04/22/05 12:31 PM Re: View on the purpose of Kata
Alejandro Offline

Registered: 05/02/02
Posts: 940
Loc: Las Cruces, NM USA
I'm a little late;

Great posts everyone; excellent points CVV, took the words right from under my fingertips [IMG][/IMG]


#107686 - 04/22/05 01:29 PM Re: View on the purpose of Kata

This is a gross oversimplification....

Kumite= Mastering others

Kata= Mastering yourself

[This message has been edited by oldman (edited 04-22-2005).]

#107687 - 04/22/05 02:29 PM Re: View on the purpose of Kata

Great posts everyone! I don't think I can add much to it.

On second thought. Why is it that today people think kata focuses on distance fighting using strikes "blocks" and kicks(multiple opponents) when the original applications were close fighting using joint manipulation and pressure points?

[This message has been edited by SANCHIN31 (edited 04-23-2005).]

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