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#230505 - 02/13/06 01:55 PM A new kata every 4 months?
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
In kata-based systems, I hear people say they get shodan nowadays in about 4 years. That would mean plowing thru the curriculum pretty fast for the 3 day a week practictioner.
In goju for example, at a 2 year point, you've blown thru 2 gekisai kata, saifa, seiunchin, shisochin and sanseru? thats half the curriculum or a new kata every 4 months (WHILE expected to maintain and improve the past kata).

way too fast IMO. 1 kata a year (while maintaining and improving all previous kata) sounds like a much more reasonable pace. so that would be about 10 years till shodan? well for most of us not able to do MA full-time, yes. I've read of people getting into advanced kata after only 2 years...but it was full-time practice.

watching some vids recently and reading various posts on here talk about advanced kata after only 2 years of MA practice, made me wonder about this topic.

do you feel you are introduced to new kata too quickly?

#230506 - 02/13/06 02:45 PM Re: A new kata every 4 months? [Re: Ed_Morris]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

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

I've seen Goju curricula where you've described the content of their ShoDan examination. I don't recall however how long they took, just that they did good kata. [O'yes they also included 2 Sanchin kata in that process.]

I teach 13 in the basic Sho-dan Curricula. A young person takes 7-9 years to go through them. An adult might go as quickly as 4 years or take as long as they require.

But for Sho-dan I only look for excellent performance in the first 5 and better than good in all the rest. On the whole I find it takes about 10 years to get into a kata fully, but I don't find you can't work on many at the same time.

Then again for the 4 year time frame, but the time that student approaches sho-dan they're practicing about 7 days a week to get to that level. Less practice time equates to a longer time training.

I think the difference is where you put your focus, short term, perfection before moving on, on long term development.

Interesting topic,
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

#230507 - 02/13/06 04:13 PM Re: A new kata every 4 months? [Re: Ed_Morris]
Joss Offline

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 567
To me there seems to be a bit too much emphasis on the quantity of kata rather than their quality and the attention to their use (bunkai). One every four months may not sound like many, and it may not be when you are only up to five or six. When you accept that there is at least one basic bunkai set that goes with each kata, though, five or six really means ten to twelve. And as the bunkai finds more advanced alternatives, these numbers increase. And if you aren't pounding the bunkai into reflex, why are you learning the kata?

Also, it sometimes seems that a ryu's kata list could be refined somewhat, based on individual student needs. Two particular aspects that might be given thought are age and sex. Martial arts/self defense needs and capabilities for a woman are not EXACTLY the same as for a man. Nor are they the same for someone at 50 years of age as for someone at 25 years of age.

Too many kata seems to turn them into more of an academic journey than a useful martial arts learning tool.

#230508 - 02/13/06 04:22 PM Re: A new kata every 4 months? [Re: Joss]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
on a personal level I think less is best for sure, a such I teach Pinan 1,2, Naihanchi 1,2 and Seisan to shodan, about 4 years training, so 5 kata.

Obviously different systems have different view, but i would rather have few well understood kata than many not so well understood,
Jim Neeter

#230509 - 02/13/06 05:37 PM Re: A new kata every 4 months? [Re: Ed_Morris]
hedkikr Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 02/28/05
Posts: 2827
Loc: Southern California, USA
Great topic...

In the best of worlds, kata would be taught as fighting. Variations of bunkai based on body mechanics (not Hollywood) teaches one to react to action, not a pre-described "attack" (a la w/e SD courses).

However, in order to retain students long enough for them to understand what they are doing & why, Americans desire a new kata every 4 mos. I've learned to work w/ this w/o compromising my values. But it takes an altered frame of reference.

Shito-ryu has over 60 kata + Pinan 1-5. Byt the tima a student begins to tackle the advanced kata, bunkai is examined & practiced. Beginners doing Pinan are just accumulting kata (for later reference).

Goju-ryu & Wado-ryu have the fewest kata so I can see why an instructor may seem to hoard the kata (don't want to use them up too quickly). I don't mind sharing if asked.

#230510 - 02/13/06 09:17 PM Re: A new kata every 4 months? [Re: Ed_Morris]
medulanet Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/03/03
Posts: 2142
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona USA
Too many kata, let me examine this from my style Matsubayashi. However, I must begin at the end. Kusanku is the ultimate kata of shorin ryu and contains 90% of the techniques and principles of shorin ryu. Therefore most of the students training is developing those principles in this one kata kusanku. Pinan kata were developed with kusanku and possibly the elusive channan kata in mind. Pinan kata are used at an early stage to develop footwork, balance, agility, and power generation and to begin the development of the principles and techniques contained in Kusanku. Similarily the fukyugatas can be used to train techniques and principles side by side with wankan. Therefore when you learn the first seven kata(2 fukyugatas and the 5 pinan kata) you are really training principles from two kata, wankan and kusanku. These kata will take you through the first 2-3 years of training. The next 2-3 years will be used to train Naihanchi which contains the principles of kusanku. Before shodan Naihanchi is used to train a more advanced method of power generation, inside fighting, and develop strength needed to train the classical okinawan kata. Therefore, after 4-6 years you have actually been working on two kata. Then ananku, wankan, and rohai are trained and used to evaluate a student for shodan after another 2-3 years of training. Finally after 6-9 years of training a student is ready for shodan. During this training 8 of the kata are preparation for Kusanku which will not be learned until much later in the training, the first two kata are for training wankan and can be considered a triangle(one principle of fighting/training from three different perspectives or three different principles of fighting/training that compliment each other). Then ananku and rohai are trained. Ananku using skills developed up to that point which teaches using the full body to attack and defend and rohai which begins to expound upon skills of the crane in a new and more advanced way. Then Wanshu is the first kata for nidan development which is all of the lessons learned up to that point combined with a few new ones. In my opinion it is just the right amount.

#230511 - 02/13/06 09:54 PM Re: A new kata every 4 months? [Re: medulanet]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
great replies everyone! medulanet, thats an interesting take on matsubayashi - and makes in Goju, the last kata typically learned at nidan/sandan is Suparimpei (Pichurin) - contains a large part of fundamental principals in Goju.

#230512 - 02/14/06 12:06 AM Re: A new kata every 4 months? [Re: shoshinkan]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas

Burpee down to press up position, press up, roll over, sit up, roll back, tuck in (continuing burpee), plyo verticle jump, straight to 25m sprint. Repeat at other end, but 25m jog return.
Aim for 5 returns (10 in total)done with no recovery other than the jog, and build from there.

This is why my instructor chose to teach me only sanchin,seiunchin,sanseru,and tensho. I asked him the other day to teach me suparempei,he said,"you already know it and it's not that exciting anyway.I haven't done it in twenty years,but if you want to know it I'll make it so." Basically,what he was saying is that all the kata is is a little bit of each of the kata I already do and know.
I guess I'll be satisfied with what I already do.

I think it's best to practice a kata for a year or so before moving on to the next.
The2nd ammendment, it makes all the others possible. <///<

#230513 - 02/14/06 05:27 AM Re: A new kata every 4 months? [Re: BrianS]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
certainly kata from any system should/do contain common elements, however each kata/group of kata does bring in different principles so its important over time to study certain kata, I suppose which ones you study help us allocate a 'system' to our own style.

Kata is withoubt doubt the core of my karate, however without kumite (I dont mean sparring) it does not deliver the application benefits that I train for, therefore the kumite side must be worked, in my case harder than the kata performance.

But we all train for different reasons and no ones wrong really!
Jim Neeter

#230514 - 02/14/06 08:32 AM Re: A new kata every 4 months? [Re: Ed_Morris]
WuXing Offline

Registered: 10/24/05
Posts: 481
Loc: Idaho, USA
After my experience with kung fu, one kata a year sounds like an enormous amount of time. Even four months per kata sounds like a lot, especially considering the length and complexity of most karate kata (not long or complex at all, compared to many kung fu forms). Of course, karate training usually consists of a lot more basics drilling than my kung fu did. When exhaustive bunkai practice for each kata is included in the training time, four months makes more sense.
I had become accustomed to doing a new form every month. Spending a month to learn a form is enough to get the movements down. Application is another thing, that I wish we could spend more time on. It's gone over in a quick and generalised manner, and expected to be developed during sparring. Of course, there are lots of techniques you can't really practice in sparring, so a lot of things get missed.
A month per form seems like a luxury when you get to more advanced levels, when the forms you test over are taught once a year for a single day each. You are expeceted to learn it in about 6 hours, and then practice it on your own for a few years until you test, getting a refresher once a year.
This is not to say forms are never reviewed...the "basics" portion of intermediate and advanced classes is performing all the forms from previous levels.

The proper amount of time for a form depends on the amount of training time a student puts in, and how fast the student absorbs material. It also depends on the complexity of the kata. I wouldn't make anyone spend a year, or even four months, on a fukyugata kata. On the most advanced kata, definately a year at least. This would be easier to monitor if you have a small number of students. I just don't think there is a single "proper" amount of time that is appropriate for all people and all kata. yes, the more time spent the better you'll get, no matter how much training time you put in or how fast a learner you are...but I wouldn't want to hold someone back who really could handle more.

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