I am a late bloomer to this thread, too. This is not an attack against the posting to whom I am replying, I agree with you, so don't take offense. I am still figuring out how to work this forum thing. This is more of a general message to whom it may concern. Now that the caveat is out of the way here goes my two cents:
If you like training kata then train kata, if you don't then don't. It is that simple. The problem seems to be that people want to take their own opinion and force it upon everybody else as an ultimate truth. Is kata useful? It is up to you to decide that for yourself. Everybody has their own opinion, and that opinion is perfectly valid - for that individual. If you think kata is necessary then fine, it is necessary - for you. If you think kata is a complete waste of time then fine, it is a complete waste of time - for you. Either way, your opinion only applies to you and not everybody else, so everybody needs to stop trying to jam their opinion down the ma commmunity's throat. It is okay to have different opinions on things, especially on something as free and open as this. There is more than one way to skin a cat, either way the cat is going to be skinned, so you should skin it in the way that works best for you. Does kata help you? For some people yes, and for some people no. It all depends on what YOU make of it. It will help you if you decide to use it in a way that is going to help you. After all, personal responsibility comes into play at some point, something will only help you as much as you use it to help yourself.
So what is my opinion? Yes, kata is a valuable training tool - for me. I can't speak for you or for anybody else. However, I can speak for myself, and I can tell you that training kata has improved my overall focus and balance. I think of it as moving meditation, fists and feet are flying on the outside while everything is quiet and serene on the inside. Kata has taught me how to be calm amid the chaos, and for me, it really paid off both in sparring and in other areas of my life. I don't know if that is true for everybody who trains with kata. I don't even know if everybody else trains their kata with that mindset. I can only speak for me.
Does kata prepare you for a real fight? Heck no! However, nothing prepares you for a real fight but ACTUAL EXPERIENCE IN A REAL FIGHT. No matter how much sparring and "aliveness" training you do, you are not preparing for a real fight unless you engage in a real fight. That is one of those things where only experience can teach you. There is a big difference between sparring or rolling around with someone in a gym and actually defending against a sudden, unexpected attempt made on your life, god forbid. That's a whole other ball game. Everything changes when it is for real. You can do all of the live fire exercises you want to do, but it is never going to prepare you for actually fighting in a real war. A military veteran taught me that little fact.
So should I or anybody else stop practicing kata because it doesn't prepare for me for a real fight? If yes, then we all should stop practicing martial arts period and start going around and getting into real fights with everybody, because the only way that we can truly prepare for those conditions is train under those conditions. Punching and kicking the air won't help, but neither will sparring or rolling with an opponent who is not going to go all out to harm or even kill you, which is what the scenario would be in a real fight. Either way, it is unrealistic. However, sparring and aliveness training will help you out in certain ways, and that will improve your chances in a real fight, which is all that any of us can ask for. Kata will will help you out in certain ways, too. I know that it has helped me to focus and be calm amid the chaos, and that will certainly improve my chances in a real fight. They both are valuable training tools, so there is no need to tear down one or the other. Heck, you can do both. When I first learned heian shodan, sensei made the senior student actually run up to me and attack me at full speed during the kata. I nearly wet myself and my rhythm was all off, but it really helped with my kata training. It got really fun when the senior student started adding even more variations to his attacks and forcing me to adjust the timing, rhythm, and direction of the kata. If only it could've been recorded on video, a first place entry on funniest home videos
So, do what works best for you. The only myth is that something can't help you out if you seriously train it. We can all benefit from any form of training, so we should all be open to every form of training. It is called humility.