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#233211 - 02/24/06 10:02 AM Re: Karate master and student conversation... [Re: Galen]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
I'll give it a shot Galen.

To the beginner kata offers balance,coordination,and focus. Once you understand the principles behind the movements you have the self defense of where to hit,how to hit,angle and direction of strikes.
Each move will show you a perfect defense to a specific attack,you can expand from there.
As I am discovering after several years of kata practice there is always something new to be learned from them.
I often see something new in them when watching others,I think to myself,"Hey! that looks just like this in that kata!" I get excited from it still.
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#233212 - 02/24/06 11:30 AM Re: Karate master and student conversation... [Re: BrianS]
Galen Offline
Member

Registered: 11/07/04
Posts: 381
Quote:

To the beginner kata offers balance, coordination, and focus. Once you understand the principles behind the movements you have the self defense of where to hit, how to hit, angle and direction of strikes. Each move will show you a perfect defense to a specific attack, you can expand from there.




Not to deny any of these advantages, but are these not lessons that can be learned through other venues? Can you not learn these things without learning kata specifically?

Well, time to rock the boat, I think.

I donít for one second believe that training in kata is a better method of learning something than the activity itself.

Let me explain.

If I want to be better at sparring, why not spar more? If I want to be better at self defense, then I should practice in a self defense context. How does practicing kata make a more effective method of teaching than actually working that which at which you want to be better?

Sure, you can break down the moves, and extrapolate defense techniques etc. from them, but I firmly believe that there are FAR more efficient methods to accomplish the same goal, rather than learning ďXĒ number kata and spending the time breaking them down. Its indirect; it can be tedious, and if your goal is to be better at something else, then kata seems a really roundabout redundant road to take.

Now read my words carefully. I am NOT saying that you cant learn these things from kata. In fact, I firmly believe that, originally, kata were developed as a method to practice these things when open classes and training partners were not nearly so available as they are today. Having said that, kata offers a second rate path to achieving these ends.

I believe that there is NOTHING on a practical level that kata can teach you that cant be learned as effectively (if not more so) through more efficient means.

So why do I practice and teach kata?

I do believe that kata has value in and of itself. I think that kata offers an aesthetic beauty to karate that is missing otherwise. I believe it offers a foundation for FAR more focused concentration than any other pursuit in karate. I feel that kata offers me a peace of mind and completely solitary methodology of practicing technique. As well, spending the time breaking down these techniques forces the student to think creatively and independently.

I donít feel that kata has anything to do with practical application of technique.

Whatís more, I also feel that anyone who thinks that it does is simply trying to justify kata in a world where aesthetics are forced into second place behind practicality, and these practitioners cannot find a way to justify kata in terms of that practicality.

G
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Nothing imperfect is the measure of anything!

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#233213 - 02/24/06 11:42 AM Re: Karate master and student conversation... [Re: Galen]
BrianS Offline
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Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
Galen,
You are being annoyingly arguementative and I mean that in the best way possible.
You can deny the reasons I gave you and I could do the same for yours. But in the end it's not what you train or how you go about it,but if it can be effectively used to meet whatever purpose you are seeking,use it. Whether it be to look romantically pretty and gives you peace of mind or you could use it functionally for other things I stated.
Peace out brother.
_________________________
The2nd ammendment, it makes all the others possible. <///<




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#233214 - 02/24/06 11:53 AM Re: Karate master and student conversation... [Re: BrianS]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
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Registered: 11/04/05
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Loc: Northwest Arkansas
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#233215 - 02/24/06 01:43 PM Re: Karate master and student conversation... [Re: Galen]
oldman Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 5884
Galen,
Thanks for you thoughtful response. I have probabaly answered every question except the one you asked. Sorry in advance for the long answer. I don't feel like I can speak to the idea of kata alone as a tool. It exists as a part of an art, not the whole art. First let me start by saying that there are three things I never tell people.

1. You should get married.
2. You should have kids
3. You should practice Kata.



Iíve come to believe itís best to let people make those decisions on their own. At the start of any endeavor it seems obvious enough that a person would know what they want but the longer I live the more Iím growing to believe that that is rarely the case. If that were the case we would simply determine our goal and move toward it or work backward from it creating a plan to achieve it. We all create for ourselves what can be referred to as a "compelling vision" or "compelling illusion" that inspires and motivates us to take action. Now the vision may have very little to do with reality but it can motivate us to take action. Of the 3 things I mentioned here are some of the compelling illusions that might go with them.

1. Cool Iíll get to have sex every day.
2. My kids will take care of me when Iím old.
3. Doing Karate (And Kata specifically) will make me
An untouchable fighting machine, the envy of every
man and the desire of every woman.


I apologize for going over the top a bit but I think you get my point. We all have ideas that motivate us at different times in our lives that give us a reason for getting out of bed in the morning. They may seem sensible or insane but they get us out of bed. Having said that I donít encourage people to practice karate, or specifically Kata based systems is I donít want to take the responsibility for crafting anyoneís vision but my own. At different stages of development it is natural for a person to practice "Magical thinking".
In childhood and adolescence it is natural and healthy. It may kind to point out the magician illusion to a child and say it is a trick but the child still thinks magically. As we develop our ideas should come more in line with reality as we mature. We diverge from reality at times when reality is too painful to bare. An example might be an oldman standing in a crowd of beautiful giggling coeds in a night class saying to himself "Yeah baby, I still got it". I have heard it said that our level of personal and spiritual development could be measured by how much reality we can see before turning away.
I think there is truth to that.

Iíll get to the question of kata specifically. Please be patient.

Even though I practice Karate and kata Iíll continue by saying that I donít assume or believe that there are things available in it that are not available in other arts or venues. It simply doesnít matter You may be in the Boy Scouts, Rock Climbing, or a knitting circle. I feel that practicing an art is about using that art to explore our worlds both inner and outer and ground us in relations and reality.

I feel I need to digress for a moment. I have many times in the last few days and weeks seen people use the word Mystical or Mysticism as a pejorative. Mysticism does not mean backward, uninformed or unscientific. It is a recognized and by many respected tradition in both eastern and western religious practices. In our exploration of the world and our place in it one of the things we are able to use is language. With that also come the limitations of language. There are times in the arts we practice and the lives we live words are unable to fully explain or express just what it is that happens in and to us. Historically even mythology being what it is "myth" has been used to express truth.

What we experience in practice and the personal growth that comes from it if there is any can be articulated in many ways. A person can use different words to explain the same concepts. Lets look at three.

1. The principle of Shuhari.
2. Psycho/social Development
3. Spiritual Formation.

Shuhari is made up of three Japanese words Shu Ha and Ri

Shu = To embrace tradition. This represents entering into a tradition or ryu
School or practice.

Ha= The mastering of the tradition and the techniques of the practice and

Ri= Transcendence of tradition or moving beyond.

In terms of methods that practice kata the mastery of them is just a part of that process of growth as experienced referred to as Shuhari. The growth takes place in the context and community of that art. It is experienced by the individual and recognized by those who have gone before. This again is not a reason to or an argument for the practice forms.
Forms are like a cereal, like Lucky Charms. They are part of a balanced diet and magically delicious. You donít NEED to practice them at all. If one of a person's "Compelling illusions" is the desire to practice karate kata , have at it. On the other hand
If a Karateka is looking down their nose at a woman practicing the art of Quilting they are still missing the point.


The Role of Kata in Psycho/social Development and Spiritual Formation.

This is not intended to be a discussion of religion. The examples I will use are only to show that the process is similar regarding the growth towards a personís maturity both in systems that are artistic, scientific or religious.

Iíll start by drawing on the work of M. Scott Peck in his book "Further Along the Road
Less Traveled" Peck describes a 4-stage process representing stages of Psychological or Spiritual maturity individuals. This is his list.

1. Chaotic / Antisocial
2. Formal /institutional
3. Skeptical/ Individual
4. Mystical/ Communal

Chaotic / Antisocial:
In this stage of development a persons life is often chaotic, disordered and even violent. They may feel they need something yet not know what it is.
They may feel threatened and seek out Martial arts to learn to Fight. If they enter a traditional school with an experienced teacher may begin sometimes for the first time in their lives to experience order and responsible discipline. In practicing Kata as part of that process a person that has or is living in ways that are antisocial ( not good for them or other) begins to conform to group behavior that establishes order. The mental and physical practice begins to provide benefits and the person begins to experience discipline as something of value instead of something onerous or as punishment. The student has reinforced for them the value of the practice. At this point they may think that the benefits are only to be found in the method they are participating in and become quite an obnoxious zealot.

Formal /Institutional:
In this period a person may begin to identify themselves with their art. Iím Shotokan,
Iím TKD. Again Forms are only part of the larger whole but at this point a practitioner may be a "company man" of sorts. The student "belongs" to or in this community He tows the line, works to maintain systems and doctrinal orthodoxy, martially speaking that is. He is asking and looking for the correct way. They seek out information from their teachers. At this point of growing power and understanding the individual is exposed to differing ideas and interpretation simply be the nature of their search for what is correct or true. This seeking for answers in kata and history leads to more questions.

Skeptical/ Individual:
In this period the students research and exposure causes them to see maybe for the first time some of the shortcomings of their system. This can cause disappointment and a cognitive dissonance when the student sees that what he once thought was the most formidable fighting system in the world is not foolproof or iron clad. This may also happen to be the period when the rose colored glasses fall off and they see their teacher as human. Many people will stop their practice at this point thinking it was all a sham when in fact it is entirely possible that no one ever lied to them it was just that their assumptions i.e. (Sex every night) were unrealistic. The external discipline from the previous stages, being internalized, serves as an internal locus of control to motivate and continue to learn without goading or reward. The other thing that is common is changing arts at this point. One philosopher refers to it as riding a donkey to your destination only to when reach your destination you dismount and get on another donkey and continue. The person identifies less with the group and works to make and find meaning. In this stage a person may sincerely be searching for their personal voice, practice, or way.


Mystical/ Communal:
In this stage the individual doesnít think so much in terms of styles. They are able to see commonalties in diverse practices and people. There is less talk or concern in regard to "Us" or "Them" mine and your. There is a growing ability to see and experience the other as ourselves. With it and increase in compassion and empathy. The person having begun their journey as a frightened, dangerous, isolated individual is becoming a caring member of a community and world. That person has a connection with people living in their neighborhood and 19th century Okinawans that arenít even alive but very present in what that created and contributed to the world. Earlier I spoke of the limitations of language. This is acknowledged and pointed at by Zen practitioners. Also by Lao Tzu.

We go out into the world trying to find our way. In doing so we begin to realize our way is not "the way". To paraphrase Lao Tzu, "The way that can be spoken of is not "The Way". In studying the arts we see a record of the paths others have traveled. As helpful as they are we are still left on our own to use the disciplines we prefer to create compelling illusions and visions filled with meaning and purpose until we no longer need them.

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#233216 - 02/24/06 01:49 PM Re: Karate master and student conversation... [Re: BrianS]
Galen Offline
Member

Registered: 11/07/04
Posts: 381
Quote:

I'll refer you to this.
http://www.fightingarts.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/15832333/an/0/page/0#15832333






Brian

And my real name is Mitch, by the way...very pleased to meet you!

Anyway, my point is that I cant seem to find anyone who can explain the practical of kata in the manner I have laid out. There are plenty of people who claim that it does this and does that, but very few (none in fact) who can explain it logically in such terms.

Most reply as you do...that it can be used as stated, but without clear, explicit foundation for the use of kata in this context.

I have read the thread you quoted, and it does little more than make claims without foundation.

I am afraid that it is more than just 'you say this and I say that.'

It is a matter of being able to empirically, logically link the practice of kata to the practical side of the martial arts. The information you have offered, and the link, offer nothing in this vein. It is little more than conjecture.

I have looked for years for someone who could explain this link to me. When I started this search, it was with the FERVRENT hope that someone could answer this. I wanted to believe what I had been taught; that Kata was an instrumental and invaluable tool in the practical martial arts arsenal.

Over the years I have to come believe that it is not so. I am more than willing to entertain any such evidence, but at the end of the day, no one can offer anything but opinion. I have yet to see one logical, clearly rational explanation of the value of kata in a practical sense.

I fear our exchange has not accomplished this either.

Thanks for trying.

G
_________________________
Nothing imperfect is the measure of anything!

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#233217 - 02/24/06 01:53 PM Re: Karate master and student conversation... [Re: oldman]
Galen Offline
Member

Registered: 11/07/04
Posts: 381
Oldman

I apologize most profoundly for not being able to respond to your post in the manner it deserves. I am at work and am left with limited time.

I will honor your post with the time it deserves over the week end, when time is less pressing.

Thank you for the effort, and I promise to give it the attention it obviously requires.

Kudos

Galen
_________________________
Nothing imperfect is the measure of anything!

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#233218 - 02/24/06 02:10 PM Re: Karate master and student conversation... [Re: Galen]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
Quote:

I donít feel that kata has anything to do with practical application of technique.



When you do feel that, we can talk.

Oldman, another great post. I don't want to derail here, so look for a post in the Zen room soon.

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#233219 - 02/24/06 02:14 PM Re: Karate master and student conversation... [Re: Ed_Morris]
Galen Offline
Member

Registered: 11/07/04
Posts: 381
Quote:

Quote:

I donít feel that kata has anything to do with practical application of technique.



When you do feel that, we can talk.




Oh, I am disappointed.

Believe me, I want to believe this, but I am too much the realist to do so without some kind of logical explanation, and I promise you that I have explored this at great length, with little success.

You have fallen into the trap / rut that so many others have.

You cannot explain it logically, so you default to the fact that the fault lays with me for not understanding.

Ah well. I was hoping for at least an effort at explaining rather that admitting defeat so easily.

Thanks anyway...

G
_________________________
Nothing imperfect is the measure of anything!

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#233220 - 02/24/06 02:20 PM Re: Karate master and student conversation... [Re: Galen]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
Mitch,nice to meet you too. Thankyou for respecting my opinions. I truly did the best I could in words. If we met maybe I could impress you some,maybe not.
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