This post is for non-kata people as well. A thread of kata-loving people talking amonst themselves won't get far by agreeing with each other's bias.
I certainly don't have 'the' answers. I only have mine at any given point in time....and by 'my answers' I mean 'best guess today'. All I try to do is find/share 'the' questions which hopefully provoke thoughts that haven't stirred before.
why study kata? personally, I don't take the stance that a kata-based training method will progress someone's skill quicker and more efficient than a non-kata based system. I can't take that stance (as much as I'd like to), because I don't feel it's true.
however, measurable benefit and subjective benefit are not always the same thing. There are a list of subjective benefits (for me) to continue studying a kata-based system. none of which are measurable by all.
first distinction people get hung up on with kata topics is what I think is the confusion of giving credit where it's not due.
I don't believe kata in and of itself begets all the credit for skill development. isolation drills can give you technique, but 2-person drills gets you skill.
since someone can do isolation drills and 2-person drills without ever even looking at kata, I don't hold the argument for kata training as being superior in those areas.
if thats true, then why even add a kata level of abstraction to training? can't someone just train technique and 2-person drills and get further along by not wasting training time by doing forms?
thats where the subjective reasoning without measure comes in to save the day.
but in short, there is no hard proof to point to and say - "here ya go, this proves kata-based training is better for skill development."
beyond the very subjective and personal reasons, such as: I grew up with the kata I still do today, so I like the connection to childhood/youth impressions.
beyond that (which admittedly is a bias), I do think forms serve another role. and I'm hoping to draw in non-kata people to argue this next point...
in non-kata based training - first an ideal technique is isolated and trained, lets keep it simple and say a jab in front of the mirror. The instructor is correcting you towards an ideal body mechanic. Then you may do interactive drills to self-learn all those little micro-adjustments needed to implement the basic idea of a good jab. Then you progressively make things messy by taking on training-partner resistance while trying to keep as much to an ideal/optimized body mechanic. You refine adhoc situations into an efficiency that approaches the ideal as training years progress. (not to mention ingrained and optimized strategy, etc). you learn to implement the principle of a good jab, as oppossed to memorizing the ideal of a jab.
thats how I'm using the word 'principle' by the way, an ideal technique that has the ability to adapt to the situation automatically and instictively, while keeping within the bounds of good underlying body mechanics....not memorized, but learned. (level of contact, intensity, etc being separate factors for the sake of this talking point).
is that a fair view of the goal of non-kata training?
ok, here's my question for the non-kata person which is also my subjective answer to the kata-based people 'why (I) do kata':
What process/mechanism do you have to take your tried and true principles and develop ideal body mechanics into an isolated drill? You are distilling something into a common denominator, are you not?