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#254860 - 05/17/06 12:46 AM Original Kata?
JoelM Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/26/04
Posts: 6355
Loc: Georgia, USA
I apologize if this has been covered before.

I've seen recently a few dicussions where someone is searching out the "original" version of a kata. I am wondering as to the motivations of said people.

While I don't see any problem in seeking out the original or master version of the kata, I would like to know why people search for such things. From what I have read, many teachers have their own little quirks and slight changes to forms that work into their own teachings. As long as they teach valid applications for those changes, does it matter what changes they actually made to those forms? What makes the original version of the form so "correct" for the need to find it? Were the originators so perfect that they created a flawless form that shouldn't be/have been changed?

The flint-lock pistol was great, but is the revolver not a better improvement? Maybe that's not a fair comparison, but you get the idea, I hope.

Now for those peple who want to find the "original" for history and posterity's sake, I have no qualms with that. But do people seek out the original for other reasons?

I hope I've made some sense here...
We should all take ourselves seriously...and then crumple that image up and toss it out the window.

#254861 - 05/17/06 12:53 AM Re: Original Kata? [Re: JoelM]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
I could be wrong,but some people seek the 'original' to have a more pure kata. Then they can say how watered down everyone elses versions are.
I'd rather have a kata I can use and understand. I don't really care about the rest. I can promise you this,my seiunchin is not like anyone elses,ask cxt.
The2nd ammendment, it makes all the others possible. <///<

#254862 - 05/17/06 01:39 AM Re: Original Kata? [Re: JoelM]
bo-ken Offline

Registered: 06/07/04
Posts: 1228
Loc: beaver falls, PA, beaver
I like to study into kata history because it is fun. I want to know how to apply my kata well. My Tekki Nidan may look different from others because I like to do it fast. Looking for an orgin might also help to understand why it was made. I think most people study kata history to learn more not to overwrite what they have learned.

#254863 - 05/17/06 04:31 AM Re: Original Kata? [Re: JoelM]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
good post.

I have a drive that wont go away, however its not in relation to 'original', I prefer the term 'authentic' and I have found that looking back in history (as best I can) is the best source to find authentic clues to the classical kata, supported by a Sensei of course.

I think this has alot to do with the function of a kata, and the biggest most significant change as I understand it would be kata that are changed to look nice, styalised if you like (much karate for tournaments, power and money etc etc).

I believe authentic kata is led by function, the function of self protection primarily and therefore the movements must be functional, if they are not then it unlikely that it an 'original' kata.

'Style' has become of little significance to me these days, the only classifications I make are 'systems', shorin and shorei, old and modern, it works for me in a general way, and of course they are all just different emphasis on body movement.

With that in mind im happy to change kata with historical, functional evidence and firmly believe that this has improved my karate as well as making it 'authentic'LOL whatever that is of course! fit for purpose, this is all done very slowly and under the guidence of my Seniors and Sensei, and within the core priciples of the system I practise 'old' okinawna shorin ryu karatedo.

Also I take into account that we are all different and outside of a learning tool, kata should be 'slightly' different to each of us, its a highly personal study as opposed to a one size fits all approach.

Many traditionalists disagree with me, but they are passing on a distinct 'style', often that style has seen significant changes over time anyhow so one could ask how authentic is that? However I do see their lineage reasons and of course thats fine 2.

Look forward to hearing what others think on this subject.
Jim Neeter

#254864 - 05/17/06 07:36 AM Re: Original Kata? [Re: JoelM]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
I suppose it's not unlike wishing to read the earliest available edition of a book.
Maybe later editions are improved, maybe have been changed for political reasons, maybe the language was updated...having an earlier edition allows a relative baseline to gage subsequent versions.

just as an example, not meant to steer the thread off course - think of the versions of religious text over time. does each version come from the next? or do they go back to the earliest version and re-translate certain sections? Which method would you say is more likely to veer astray from the original author's intent?

preserving the oldest version of kata is important for 2 reasons: documentation of a historic Art. and so later generations may study the form from it's unchanged state.

I'm not saying everyone should practice the oldest available We just practice what our sensei shows us. but when you or anybody looks up just for comparitive reference, what Miyagi's Seiunchin likely looked like...people can point to a version and say with relative certainty that this was likely it (maybe based on a comparitive study of what all of his students taught).

see? it's not to tell people what they should be's for preserving and understanding the Art. This is so people who do have a deep enough understand of the kata may change/interpret it to fit their needs based upon the earliest available version....this is to eliminate (as much as possible) transmission errors/customizations.

For practical use, the copy of the copy is fine...if it works for you, then you have what you need. For preserving an Art, a copy of a copy is obviously not the best case.

personally, I'd like as close to the best of both worlds. The least changed kata, interpreted to meet my needs.

#254865 - 05/18/06 11:13 AM Re: Original Kata? [Re: JoelM]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3119
Loc: East Coast, United States

We need to understand the "tools" (ie kata) we already possess. I cannot go back in time and learn the "original" kata from the initial creator/s of it. Even if I were able the inital kata must have changed even marginally within the creator(s) own lifetime? I look at something my entire martial life surely in that time I must have removed the "rough edges". minor changes in some spots... no?

Like yourself I see nothing wrong with attempting to keep alive something we believe the original kata/practice for historic purposes. But how can we tell what the "original" might or might not have been (ie not having been there/alive at the time)? Its a path that leads to martial insanity I think...

I'll look at other receipes, other flavors of a kata. See how well I understand what I possess, believe I know. Can I look at the same kata done differently and figure out the WHY they do whatever they do/did?

There is one real risk in the "only preservation" approach. DT Suzuki spoke of it in one of his Zen works describing the problem as the "Forth Horse" phenomina. Basically we need to be VERY careful we do not stop exploring, examining the movements... understanding their whispers, subtlities, hints of effectiveness & efficency just to preserve something "dead" from the past. If other receipes have been produced since that time, examine them, try them if they seem interesting. Beware of rote copying without exploring.

Merely my opinion as always, I could surely be mistaken,


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