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#195222 - 10/20/05 01:59 AM Can a Pattern be called a Kata?
RobMcIntyre Offline

Registered: 10/20/05
Posts: 6
Hi all,

First post, see how I go...

I was watching a class the other day of a style that claims to have impecible okinwan kempo lineage but also that it is a modern australian system.

They trained in what they called "elbow Kata's" that were little more than combinations of elbows, simulated grabs and knees to a basic floor pattern.

My question is, can Patterns/Forms like this be called Kata, or should that term/name be reserved for genuine Japanese/Okiniwan ones that have came from Karate history?

Can an recent aussie/western creation be called a Kata?

What do you think?

Cheers, Rob.

#195223 - 10/20/05 03:55 AM Re: Can a Pattern be called a Kata? [Re: RobMcIntyre]
Alicia Offline

Registered: 03/19/05
Posts: 222
Loc: BC, Canada
In kickboxing, our forms are called 'kata' as well. Kickboxing isn't traditional at all, so this surprised me too. I suppose modern systems borrow from traditional ones in many cases. I'm not sure if it's right or not.
"If someone asked me what a human being ought to devote the maximum of his life to, I would answer: training. Train more than you sleep."
~Mas Oyama~

#195224 - 10/20/05 09:11 AM Re: Can a Pattern be called a Kata? [Re: Alicia]
dogfacedboyuk1 Offline

Registered: 10/19/05
Posts: 116
Whats traditional now was in it's time modern!! I've seen this kind of comment before and it's always an interesting topic to me. I will use Shotokan as an example for the reason of my opinion. When Funakoshi took "traditional" Okinawan methods (which used chinese and indigineous arts combined)into Japan to teach karate to them can you imagine the murmourings and complaints of Funakoshis fellow Okinawans back home when it was all extensively changed by his son Yoshitaka into the Japanese Karate we see today? I think its a fairly accurate assumption to say that Shotokan karate was classed wholly as being "not traditional at all" in its day. At least by the Okinawans. The most modern of the kata practised in Shotokan today are the Heian katas and were created by Itosu sensei. How were these viewed when they were introduced and demonstrated to the older teachers? That's a subject for some research as I would not be able to say offhand. Itosu was a very prominent karateka on Okinawa, maybe his teachers (if they were alive at the time) approved, maybe they didn't. What I do know though, is that if you were to develop a set of kata today, in Shotokan at least - no matter what kind of level you are (save maybe 8th or 9th dan Japanese/Okinawan master) 4th/5th/6th Dan - and showed it to all your fellow practitioners you would be laughed out of the room and maybe even burned alive for heresy. How many times have we laughed at people in stripey sequined gi's who compete in open kata competition and have made up some kind of martial dance routine in time to "Eye of the Tiger" and whirling nunchaku's about? You know you have.

However I do not consider it a crime to create your own kata. So long as the movements have purpose, are performed with the correct spirit and intention I think it's a good training method to memorise your self defence techniques. Kata/forms/patterns is what karate/kung fu whatever, is all about and it's been a primary tool since martial arts were first created. Kata can be defined as an organised series of practical fighting techniques that are praticed to develop muscle memory. So I would say regarding this "Elbows kata" you mention, it IS a kata - if it's practiced regularly. Just because it does not hold the distinction of being old and oriental in origin do not judge it as being bad. In fact what you described about the elbows kata training is a very interesting method to change the way you pratice basic techniques. Instead of going up and down doing your combinations/single moves to the count, perform them as a multi-directional continous kata. I've used this method before and it's effective. Just before I retired from karate this was one of my main areas of interest, developing the training methods used at our club in order to eliminate any sense of "same old same old".

Overall, I would say to you join the class, pratice the kata, observe the instructor and you will know whether what you're doing is right for you (if you were watching to see if you wanted to join or not!) Were you thinking of joining this class?

#195225 - 10/20/05 09:27 PM Re: Can a Pattern be called a Kata? [Re: dogfacedboyuk1]
RobMcIntyre Offline

Registered: 10/20/05
Posts: 6

I didn't say they were bad, they have their purpose and benefits and their place. But is Kata a japanese name? and should it be reserved for those kata created in Japan?

Why call them Kata if you, your style and your philosophies are not Japanese?

I won't be joining the class, the instructor is a very good teacher but has poor skills, and the system itself is sadly lacking. It is good exercise for those who are doing it, and I hope they enjoy it and it improves their lives, but I look for a higher level of competency.

Thanks for your reply, very informative.

#195226 - 10/20/05 11:16 PM Re: Can a Pattern be called a Kata? [Re: RobMcIntyre]
dogfacedboyuk1 Offline

Registered: 10/19/05
Posts: 116
I believe Kata is a Japanese term. I think the Okinawans did not have a specific name for them and just referred to the art in general as "te" or "di" and to the kata by their specific names. This is what I have read, it may or may not be correct - anyone here shed any further light?

I think what we call them is not particularly relevant, what's in a name? However you made an interesting point (quote)"Why call them Kata if you, your style and your philosophies are not Japanese?" From what you described in your post the guy claims "impeccable Okinawan lineage" - so why not use the term kata? If his background is in Okinawan karate and he has added/developed his own school he's gonna use terminology he's familiar with. The reason I said your comment was interesting was because a while back I came across an ad for some kung fu association advertising classes and he listed some of the training as "kata". It made me laugh at the time. Obviously some clown trying to make a fast buck.

#195227 - 10/21/05 05:36 PM Re: Can a Pattern be called a Kata? [Re: RobMcIntyre]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

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

Kata just means "form" (sort of) and at base a kata is just a set of discreet techniques and movements linked togather for the purpose of practice.

So yes, an "elbow" kata like you discribe could be a "kata."

Many arts, Chinese, Okinawan, etc use kata or quan or some other word/term to describe specific drills--not just a Japanese kinda thing.

And your right--serious error to mix the terms--would seriously question the skills and info of a guy claiming to teach Wing Chuan but uses Japanese karate terms.

Edited by cxt (10/21/05 05:37 PM)
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

#195228 - 10/22/05 02:02 AM Re: Can a Pattern be called a Kata? [Re: cxt]
nekogami13 V2.0 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 2643
Loc: Texas, USA
I personally prefer something along the lines of Bob or Susie

I see no valid reason to use Kata to describe anything unless you are taking a japanese based art.
I'm sorry, I was just imaging what you would look like with duct tape over your mouth

#195229 - 10/22/05 08:34 AM Re: Can a Pattern be called a Kata? [Re: nekogami13 V2.0]
SANCHIN31 Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3783
Loc: Arkansas, U.S.

I see no valid reason to use Kata to describe anything unless you are taking a japanese based art.

Skinny,Bald,and Handsome! Fightingarts Warrior of the year

#195230 - 10/22/05 08:28 PM Re: Can a Pattern be called a Kata? [Re: dogfacedboyuk1]
Talimas Offline

Registered: 02/03/05
Posts: 131
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
Funakoshi may have taken "traditional" Okinawan katas and slightly modified them to fit himself, but if I am not mistaken Okinawan tradition was actually to change the kata to fit the practitioner. Post Funakoshi era karate is more of what has stated kata's as unchanging entities. With that being said I believe you can string SD sets together to create a "kata" or "form" or whatever name you would really like to give it at that time.
Some things move, most things breath, anything can be destroyed.

#195231 - 10/23/05 08:45 AM Re: Can a Pattern be called a Kata? [Re: Talimas]
dogfacedboyuk1 Offline

Registered: 10/19/05
Posts: 116
Yoshitaka Funakoshi did not change the kata just to suit himself, he changed it and turned his fathers karate into Japanese Karate (ie Shotokan) for everyone to follow. He changed the performance to become dynamic, exaggerated and powerful looking. I don't think his father was approving of the long stances, as one of Gichin Funakoshis 20 precepts states quite clearly "low stances for beginners, more natural stance for the advanced". Which of course is taught and followed in all Shotokan schools by the senior grades. Yeah right.

#195232 - 10/24/05 01:38 AM Re: Can a Pattern be called a Kata? [Re: RobMcIntyre]
Isshinryukid4life Offline
Professional Injury causer

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 2455
Loc: Knoxville.

Can an recent aussie/western creation be called a Kata?
[qoute] [/qoute]


#195233 - 11/03/05 07:17 PM Re: Can a Pattern be called a Kata? [Re: Isshinryukid4life]
Malachi Offline

Registered: 11/03/05
Posts: 51
Loc: Seattle, Washington

Can an recent aussie/western creation be called a Kata?


technically true. I agree with you in that. My system is primarily technique based, and part of their advancement requirements is to develop their own Forms to practice with, but we never refer to them as Kata. We also dont' call the knifehand chop a shuto, though I have used the reference term before (It's probably identical in many respects to the shuto in traditional systems.)

I feel that its not a significant factor - is the point getting across? that's the point. We use american terms because we are an american eclectic system. However, at more advanced levels we use certain terms to communicate an idea or ideal, primarily because of their mythical presence. and when I say mythical, I refer to an intrinsic truth that cannot be easily expressed in words.

Like the relationship between sensei and Karateka. sensei loosely means "teacher" Or "one who has gone before" in english, but compare the sensei/karateka relationship to what we see in modern public schools and their is a big difference. So we use those terms to give our students insight that there is something different and important in the context of what we are saying.

#195234 - 11/03/05 08:56 PM Can a Pattern be called a Kata? [Re: RobMcIntyre]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3120
Loc: East Coast, United States

Excellent first post, question we hope you will do more!!!

Any pattern CAN be called anything you wish. In precisely the identical manner which TRADITIONAL can be. If I do a thing and you copy it, we have just created technically a "tradition"....

Just because they CALL it kata, does not make it so.

Kata IMHV is a SUBTLE, nuanced thing which can be explored for a lifetime, examined and still truly not find all the "gems". Kata contain principles, and the precise mechanics of those ideas, concepts. Does this elbow form contain any of those aspects? Could you practice that form alone for the rest of you life and be content figuring out its whispers???

Unlikely I suspect...therefore doubtful it is a kata....

It is merely my opinion, I could surely be mistaken,

#195235 - 11/04/05 12:16 AM Re: Can a Pattern be called a Kata? [Re: Malachi]
Mark Hill Offline

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 1068
Loc: Australia
If I can't create a kata, even in twenty or thrity years time, what about Nakasone's Rinkan, or Shimbakuro's Su Nu Su?

Maybe they were confused too?

#195236 - 11/04/05 07:16 PM Re: Can a Pattern be called a Kata? [Re: Mark Hill]
dogfacedboyuk1 Offline

Registered: 10/19/05
Posts: 116
Anyone skilled can create a kata. All it needs to be is practiced regularly (otherwise its not really a kata) and contain valid fighting techniques/principles.

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