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#372500 - 12/01/07 05:01 PM Why do YOU study kata?
Shonuff Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 603
Loc: London, UK
I was just curious as to what it is that keeps the various forum members practicing and studying kata, particularly those interested in Bunkai and Old School/Fighting Karate?

Why take time to practice and study kata when the skills revealed by them are more quickly attainable through cross training?
OR
Is there something unique to Karate hidden within its kata (and do you know of any evidence of this)?

I'm not seeking any particular answer, just enjoying it is just as cool as hidden ancient knowledge.

For myself I have an interest in stylistic and systematic approaches to combat, which is what I see kata as being. I've gained alot of strategic combat knowledge from the study and a broader understanding of MA's, especially how to use techniques and movements I'm presented with.

How about you?
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#372501 - 12/01/07 06:25 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Shonuff]
harleyt26 Offline
Member

Registered: 06/23/04
Posts: 75
Loc: Summerfield,Florida U.S.A.
I think of kata as a storage system for a wider array of application variations than I could possibly remember.The problem I struggle with is,how large should my storage system be?Cross training can be interpreted more than one way.You can cross train between types of fighting arts such as stand up or ground fighting.Or different types of stand up such as karate or boxing.Different ground fighting types like jujitsu,shootfighting or some of the european or western wrestling styles.I prefer to cross train in the traditional/classical okinawn styles that are for the most part kata based.I have found that kata contain the appropriate blend of information necessary to defend myself in any situation I can think of.Of course I wasted many years before I found the instructors that could teach what was in kata all along.I had almost resingned myself to the belief that kata were only a way to compete for trophys.Anyone that thinks kata are only good for excercise and competition are with the wrong instructor.
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#372502 - 12/01/07 08:41 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Shonuff]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
1. Teacher says so.

2. Even without being exposed to bunkai, just doing the kata trains and strengthens the body in preparation for learning it.

Quote:

I was just curious as to what it is that keeps the various forum members practicing and studying kata, particularly those interested in Bunkai and Old School/Fighting Karate?



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#372503 - 12/01/07 10:41 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: harlan]
Neko456 Offline
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Registered: 01/18/05
Posts: 3260
Loc: Midwest City, Ok, USA
I studied for the same reason posted above, I was with a small group who got caught up that Bruce Lee movement, forms are useless, become formless or whatever. They now have stopped training or can no longer compete and are lost. I on the other hand am still explorering and training some of the students of the lost. Some are trying to train merdian training without the Kata its like traveling across country without a map, they say. Anyway like any higher education it requires some study. I continue to find and have common grounds in my cross training because I've trained similar techniques in my original kata.

But before knowing an d finding all this it was because, as harlan stated bc, Sensei said so. And I'm glad he did.
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#372504 - 12/02/07 04:01 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Shonuff]
jude33 Offline
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Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1539
Quote:

I was just curious as to what it is that keeps the various forum members practicing and studying kata, particularly those interested in Bunkai and Old School/Fighting Karate?

Why take time to practice and study kata when the skills revealed by them are more quickly attainable through cross training?
OR
Is there something unique to Karate hidden within its kata (and do you know of any evidence of this)?






Judes limited studies.
I dont think cross training will give most of the techniques that are in kata. Some maybe but certainly not all.

Yep I think most techniques in certain kata are hidden. Hidden for a good reason It is that hidden that (from my limited studies) a few kata re-engineering types miss a lot. I dont think kata study just requires the physical study of a specific kata or a set of kata.
It requires reading a lot of peoples input. This forum is about the best I have come across for that reason. Particuler the arguments between Ed and Medulant or Ed and some one else about other things on this forum, then researching the valid points gained further.

Jude

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#372505 - 12/02/07 09:38 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: jude33]
Shonuff Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 603
Loc: London, UK
Harleyt26
Kata as a memory aid? Cool, but why not video each application and discard the kata. Also does keeping and continuing to practice kata not detract from time to train and absorb the applications or the generic skills of fighting?

Harlan
1. This is surely the best reason I ever had in the begining. But once we become responsible for our own development is there a need to continue?
2. Fun exercise sure, but good exercise? There are better ways to strengthen the body and kihon practice is more than enough to develop muscle memory for the techniques we use.

Neko
So is it the mental stimulation that keeps you using kata? Are you saying that the extra dimension created by their mysteries is part of your long term enjoyment of MA?

Jude
What techniques or skills do you see in Karate kata that you don't find in other arts?
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#372506 - 12/02/07 01:01 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Shonuff]
jude33 Offline
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Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1539
Quote:

Jude
What techniques or skills do you see in Karate kata that you don't find in other arts?





Quite a few.

But I havent got anywhere near the amount of techniques available.

If using things like trees as a physical training aids( no dog jokes please) puts a person off or they havent got or working towards that kind of physical conditioning then there isnt much point in me explaining the techniques that I know of.


Jude



Edited by jude33 (12/02/07 01:05 PM)

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#372507 - 12/02/07 01:49 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: jude33]
Ives Offline
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Registered: 04/25/05
Posts: 691
Loc: the Netherlands
The reason why I study kata...

I see application possibilities in it, which I can train on my own (although there is no substitute for partner training).

Next to that, it's good for muscle memory, other than most kihon, where most of the time most people train kihon in line. They are diverse as a training aid. The extra dimension of embusen shouldn't be neglected.

And last, I find them a good way to get an exhausting work-out.
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#372508 - 12/03/07 06:40 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: jude33]
Shonuff Offline
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Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 603
Loc: London, UK
Jude

As you are posting to a diverse forum of people, all of whom are at different levels and do different things then there may well be a point as you never know who is reading.

That is other than the main point of any forum i.e. to share ideas and information.

I've yet to encounter a technique where hitting trees was necessary training to make use of it. Except in movies.
That indicates to me a completely different line of thinking than I've ever encountered before regarding kata application and would certainly be something one could not get from another art.

I'm fascinated to hear what some of these hidden kata techniques are?
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#372509 - 12/03/07 08:26 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Shonuff]
jude33 Offline
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Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1539
Quote:

Jude

As you are posting to a diverse forum of people, all of whom are at different levels and do different things then there may well be a point as you never know who is reading.

That is other than the main point of any forum i.e. to share ideas and information.

I've yet to encounter a technique where hitting trees was necessary training to make use of it. Except in movies.
That indicates to me a completely different line of thinking than I've ever encountered before regarding kata application and would certainly be something one could not get from another art.

I'm fascinated to hear what some of these hidden kata techniques are?




I have no interest in what people do in the movies. A person needs to go back to their roots.



Sorry couldnt resist that one. That was the fun part.

Judes students thoughts.
Just a point in case this gets silly. Using a tree means reaching the body conditioning where some one could use something with the restistance that would be equavilant of a tree. It doesnt mean we westerners should run out and get locked up by using trees. Wouldnt be politicaly correct.
Body conditioning is only part of the equation.

As regards the limited amount of hidden techniques that I know of in certain kata. On the jujitsu thread there is an arm bar question.
I think cesar mentioned trapping in kata. Didnt go in to much detail
I have invited him to this section to discuss the arm bar he is thinking of.?
Hope you dont mind.
I think if part of the discussion included ,Fulcrum point, method of entry.etc
And how a person gets to where they can apply a standing arm bar? All found in certain kata.

That might be a good starting point.
Some hidden applications found in kata might be related to this. And these might be revealed during the discussion.

Jude


Edited by jude33 (12/03/07 08:47 AM)

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#372510 - 12/03/07 11:32 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Shonuff]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
Sho

I find the practice shows gains with my training.

Can't speak for anyone else of course---but for me, it helps.

Its by no means all that I do--when I'm actually in training , I do the raodwork, the bagwork, the partner work, jump-rope, focus mitts/shields, sparring, strength training, matt-work, drills--and kata.
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#372511 - 12/03/07 01:29 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Shonuff]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

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

At this point I don't study or practice kata, I use them as lifelong friends. Simply put, if you're in an Okinawan derived karate system and you don't use kata, they you're not doing karate.

I've trained people for quite a while and I don't find the simple you can pick things up faster by not doing kata true.

The primary purpose of kata is energy development of technique in movement. The purpose of basic technique application is to learn how to fit those techniques in given space and then how to apply the energy developred in kata within those applications. Of course there is much more involved than these opening studies if the individual is willing to put the time into their study.

I do not believe cross training has any value in making one perform a system of practice better. While I've undergone tons of additional training, it was never to make my Isshinryu better, but just to have someone to train with, and regardless of what they taught I was willing to jump in and work on what they were doing. I did learn from those studies, but not necessarily to make my primary study any better.

It's more a question of degree and how you frame your discussion.

If all you want to do is make a handfull of techniques work, no you don't need kata. But if you want to explore an almost infinite depth of technique potential, there are few tools better than kata to define all of those studies together.

If you take systems of great magnitude, such as daito ryu aiki jutsu, it has been said to learn them might take 30 years because the full system incorporates thousands of techniques.

Karate and Kata's offerings have similar depths.

If you want a tea cup full of techniques you can do anything. If you want to explore the ocean you need kata, and a great deal of other training too.

I find our art is as simple or complex as we make it.
_________________________
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#372512 - 12/03/07 02:01 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Victor Smith]
Bossman Offline
Veteran

Registered: 08/25/03
Posts: 1785
Loc: Chatham Kent UK
Kata fulfills a trinity of training.

Medical, the physical postures, movement and internal system increases the health and vigour.

Skill, the combinations are structured in an ingenious training pattern to enhance skill level in quite a complex way that could never be found in simple combinations.

Boxing, techniques are arranged so that the body is afforded maximum protection for every inch of movement as opposed to simple movements to hit and grapple another person.
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#372513 - 12/03/07 03:55 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: jude33]
Gesar Offline
Member

Registered: 06/16/07
Posts: 77
Loc: England, UK

Jude,
Indeed I did join in a discussion in the Ju Jutsu section on a straight arm lock, known in the Ju Jutsu that I do as Soto Hiji Ude Dori, which is basically a straight arm lock applied from the outside and which forms one of the locks in a Ju Jutsu locking Kata we do, there is also a version performed on the inside (Uchi Hiji Ude Dori)which is found in this same locking Kata and another Kempo Kata that we do in both our Kempo which is also practised in our ju Jutsu.

We do Kata in our Ju Jutsu as it is the only safe way to learn and practise the techniques, the point being that Ju Jutsu, as well as Kempo and Karate, has Kata. At the same time a lot of modern Ju Jutsu contains techniques that have been borrowed from Karate (and elsewhere).

As regards Karate Kata I have recently returned to learning some new Kata (at least for me), having previously had a diet of Shorei ryu (of which I have only continued with Sanchin in various variations) and some of the Japanese Karate Kata (which I dropped a few years ago) and have seen quite a range of so called Bunkai (some quite dubious I may add).

To understand where I am coming from with this I probably need to give you some background; Originally I started with a Shorei Ryu style (It was Goju but not partucularly organised Goju) and moved more towards Kempo Jutsu and continued looking at applications and as a result became involved in and trained for a number of years in Ju Jutsu (whilst maintaining my training in Kempo), dabbled in Aikido (which I still occassionally do) and picked up some stuff labelled Te/ti/di on the way and this has resulted in my more recently looking at the classical Shorin Ryu forms and some old variations.

One thing that I do notice now with a lot of material that is passed of as Bunkai to Karate Kata these days is that it is reverse engineered Judo and modern Ju Jutsu. That of course does not mean that there are not hidden techniques in Karate Kata.

Having been a Kata judge on occassions I never fail to notice the requirements are not effectiveness of the kata or how much they represent traditional forms, but how pretty they look!!!

This is a shame as Kata is to me at least a living text, a way of preserving old techniques of the past and a way of practising solo when a training partner is not available and as a way to sharpen certain movements. At the same time it also provides me with a deeper insight into what I am doing, can provide me with alternatives and confirm or otherwise certain things. I think now that I have matured as a martial artist that I recognise the importance of Kata more now than I ever did.

Regards

Chris Norman

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#372514 - 12/03/07 04:44 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Gesar]
jude33 Offline
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Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1539
Hi

I would tend to agree that some reverse engineering seems to be based on japanese arts .
My studies are limited. I think what Shonuff is looking for is to discuss techniques found in kata.
I think there a lot of hidden moves in kata. I also think that certain kata have to be taken back to as original as can be found( if that is possable)

Jude

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#372515 - 12/03/07 09:55 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Gesar]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

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

I don't know about reverse engineering, logical analysis of any technique (and what a techinque is defined as is very, very fluid) shows a very wide range of applications.

Isshinryu is literaly filled with technique potential that creates an arm bar of sorts when you simply apply it, but then the paradigm of Isshinryu striking is different from most other karate systems and their striking approach doesn't lend itself to the same answers.

If you can insert a kata application into an attack, not change the kata flow and the opponent ends up in an arm bar situation, it works for me. That other arts might end up in the same place doesn't mean they got there the same way.

It is of interest how few have followed up on looking at that potential that way.

Of course the same arm bar application can also move into the arm break potential application too.


Edited by Victor Smith (12/03/07 09:56 PM)
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#372516 - 12/04/07 12:19 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Victor Smith]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3116
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Shonuff:

As a teaching tool, the PROCESS of learning kata is excellent. Understanding the smaller pieces which comprise the kata entirety is a deep endless mine.

Kata is not necessary for learning survival, but for learning how to find deeper concepts, learn the principles that make the movements work...kata is mandatory.

Kata is the microscope of context for the problems that will occur in conflict.

Jeff

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#372517 - 12/04/07 01:23 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Shonuff]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
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?

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#372518 - 12/04/07 02:45 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Ed_Morris]
butterfly Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA
Sorry, for whatever reason the quote function isn't working for me, but here's the only thing that I would say might slightly be wrong, but similar to what you are stating from a non-kata perspective.

Principles are generally shown in application first. Tehcniques to be practiced are demoed against someone and then the class follows suit in partner drills. For your jab example, you would have someone try to punch you and throw the jab in application. Basically showing what works by someone more proficient. Then it's off doing limited partner drills under supervision from the get-go, and then work on the mechanics of delivery by looking in the mirror.

When shown from a point of application from someone who can perform the technique, you already know and can see that it works in a resistant environment despite your inability to apply it as well.

So I would say your description is basically correct, but the sequence of study is wrong.

First show application of the technique in a resistant drill as example; then work on performance from the start in trying to apply the technique with a partner; and then work on the mechanics as a basic exercise. This again applies to usage and not warm ups containing the basic techniques and practice movements in the beginnings of the class.

For instance, if I was teaching someone to low kick, I would demonstrate the kick in application then have them kick me or their partner and correct them from the point of applying the technique. After which, I would have them work on drills to speciically address problem areas in delivery...and then go back to partner drills. After this basic knowledge is gathered then isolation drills can be done with some understanding of what the person is trying to accomplish and what target areas and distance need to be accomodated when just throwing the technique out there for training efficiency.

In that respect, 75 percent of your time, or more, should be spent in application or partner drills, while the balance in making sure of delivery of the rechnique, perhaps in front of a mirror. After the technique is understood in that manner, then training solo can start in earnest since there is now an understanding of what you are looking for when adjusting the technique for application.

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#372519 - 12/04/07 03:50 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Shonuff]
GriffyGriff Offline
Good Egg,
Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 414
Loc: Earth
Read "Barefoot Zen"
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I am NOT homophobic... I am NOT afraid of my own house!

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#372520 - 12/04/07 07:10 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: GriffyGriff]
jude33 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1539
Quote:

Read "Barefoot Zen"






What is in the book Griffy?
I dont realy want to buy it yet.

Jude



Edited by jude33 (12/04/07 07:29 AM)

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#372521 - 12/04/07 07:31 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Shonuff]
shoshinkan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/10/05
Posts: 2662
Loc: UK
Quote:

I was just curious as to what it is that keeps the various forum members practicing and studying kata, particularly those interested in Bunkai and Old School/Fighting Karate?

Why take time to practice and study kata when the skills revealed by them are more quickly attainable through cross training?
OR
Is there something unique to Karate hidden within its kata (and do you know of any evidence of this)?

I'm not seeking any particular answer, just enjoying it is just as cool as hidden ancient knowledge.

For myself I have an interest in stylistic and systematic approaches to combat, which is what I see kata as being. I've gained alot of strategic combat knowledge from the study and a broader understanding of MA's, especially how to use techniques and movements I'm presented with.

How about you?





some excellent responses so far on this thread,

from my perspective -

I continue to study kata, as opposed to performing solo kata as a main study as it is how okinawan karate is given to me.

I use it as a memory aid, a teaching tool (for myself and students), all guided by my Seniors. It is also a link to a historic practice, which is important to me.

personally I think kata is one fo the things that defines karate practice, is it needed, the most efficient way of fighting - of course not,

but it is the delivery system of my art and therefore of massive importance to me.

But then again the value to me is in what you do with the kata lessons, enter 2 man work against common methods of assault and of course isolated technique/combination training taken directly from the kata.
_________________________
Jim Neeter

www.shoshinkanuk.blogspot.com

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#372522 - 12/04/07 08:37 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: butterfly]
jude33 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1539
Quote:

So I would say your description is basically correct, but the sequence of study is wrong.

.




Hi

Unless I have miss understood things.

I think I tend to agree with what you have written.
If I were to be taught something that I knew little about then your method would be ideal. In fact from my readings on here you would be an ideal teacher much sought after.


Shonuff.

About the things that are hidden therefore unique to karate found in kata.

From the Kata studies I have thus far (which is a mere drop of water in the ocean) they do hold techniques that arent always easy to see or explain. They are most defintaly hidden.


Some techniques(from the limited ones I have studied) are brutal. Some also require good body conditioning other wise they wont work.

Along the lines of thai boxers with conditioned shins.

Here is fairly simple technique that I think could be used after or during a sequance I have aquired through kata study.

Face tori.

After or even before a set of other techniques

strike/Parry/(or even just grab by chance) tori's opposite arm so as to be able grip/grab tori's wrist with uke's palm facing down in the area of front/ above uke's hip.

Twist the wrist quickly(if needed) so that tori's finger are facing down or about facing down as they can be.
Bring up very quickly the opposite forearm in a form of age uke and smash the fingers upwards with the forearm.

Now I think that is unique hidden technique to karate found in kata?.Or I could be wrong and it appears in other arts?


Jude


Edited by jude33 (12/04/07 08:50 AM)

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#372523 - 12/04/07 04:02 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: jude33]
butterfly Offline
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Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA

Quote:

Now I think that is unique hidden technique to karate found in kata?.Or I could be wrong and it appears in other arts?





And Jude, what if someone just showed you the technique to practice, sans the kata?

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#372524 - 12/04/07 04:56 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: butterfly]
Ed_Morris Offline
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Posts: 6772
thanks for the correction, BB -
so you show it's 2-person use, then have them 2-person drill it, then isolation drill...the emphasis and majority of time spent on 2-person drills.

do you try something, find out it works well and feels comfortable, then teach that technique/principle/combo in class and have students work it with each other?

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#372525 - 12/04/07 05:11 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: butterfly]
jude33 Offline
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Registered: 03/14/07
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Quote:


Quote:

Now I think that is unique hidden technique to karate found in kata?.Or I could be wrong and it appears in other arts?





And Jude, what if someone just showed you the technique to practice, sans the kata?




If it is hidden Butterfly and hidden for a good reason then
who will show it to me? Have you or anybody else ever come across it?
I am but a mere student with limited knowledge but has anybody seen that technique other than in kata?
It is indeed considered a very small part of a larger 2 man drill taken from kata. Interesting thing is that the mechanics are the same as in the kata. So solo practice is also there using the kata and the isolated basics taken from the kata using trad training aids as well as the two man drill subject to some one else being available.

Trad conditioning training aids.

I can see your valid points.
Your an excellent teacher.
But I would also ask if you could try to see mine.


Jude





Edited by jude33 (12/04/07 05:25 PM)

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#372526 - 12/04/07 05:43 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Shonuff]
WuXing Offline
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Registered: 10/24/05
Posts: 481
Loc: Idaho, USA
I practice the kata because they are part of the traditions that have been passed down to me. Someday, I will pass them down to others. It has nothing to do with efficacy, or efficient use of time. Everyone seems to feel pressured to prove that their practice is about preparing for combat in the fastest way possible, 100% of the time. It's alright to admit that your martial arts are as much "art" as they are "martial". It is as much spirit as it is body and mind. The kata are an expression of the spirit, the "soul", of some traditions.

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#372527 - 12/04/07 08:00 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: WuXing]
Shonuff Offline
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Thanks for the contributions, there are some very interesting views.

Jude,
If I'm understanding you correctly were you describing smashing someone's fingers with your forearm??? I could not visualise the technique very well, but it certainly does sound fairly unique, although what I have pictured in my head would not work very well as the person getting their fingers smashed could hit with his non grabbed hand. I can't see it working.

But if you find unique techniques in your karate kata then that is certainly a great reason to continue studying them.

For myself I tend to see unique or uniquely approached strategies as opposed to techniques.

GriffyGriff
I dont agree with much of Barefoot Zen
_________________________
It's Shotokan not Shoto-can't!!!

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#372528 - 12/04/07 08:43 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Ed_Morris]
butterfly Offline
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Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA
Quote:

do you try something, find out it works well and feels comfortable, then teach that technique/principle/combo in class and have students work it with each other?




Yes, things normally branch out from your experience or from your instructor’s experience that percolates downward into what you do. And there are principles involved in this stuff of course. However, the discerning factor here is that if you I just try to give only the principle without the partner drills as a preliminary practice, then you risk getting into a one size fits all “technique/combo” whatever mentality. The problem being that the principle would be sound, but to find an individual way of making it work for the practitioner might be slightly different due to size and body type constraints and this needs to be addressed. This can be done immediately through partner drills as an exploration of the technique at whatever level the practitioner is at the time, with different ways of attempting it and freedom to ask questions of the instructor and the partner….even if it is simply saying, “I don’t get it.”

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#372529 - 12/04/07 09:44 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: butterfly]
kakushiite Offline
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Loc: Ithaca, NY, USA
...Caution, proceeding to step up on soap box....

Virtually all systems of movement practice repetitive patterns. Dance, yoga, all manner of sports, music, knitting, cooking, rowing, farming, carpentry, whatever.

There are efficient, effective ways to do movements, and experts in these various "systems of movement" typically engage in the repetitive practice of common movements, whether it be chopping logs or chopping sushi, swinging a hammer or swinging a sword, jumping rope or jumping double layouts, throwing balls or throwing punches, pitching a fork or pitching a baseball, serving at tennis, or serving tea (Chado), whatever. But the bottom line is that repetition in much of this is the key to success.

We should expect the same with fighting systems, especially if we are going to depend on our training to escape from an attack with as little injury as possible.

In fighting systems, the "combinations" we practice have a variety of origins. Some groundfighting movements are likely quite old, but there has been a lot of innovation recently. In the sport striking arts, it is highly likely that some basic combinations are very old. (Left, jab, right cross, for example.) This is a staple of PMA, Muay Thai and Western boxing, and was probably used in some form or another for thousands of years.

Whatever the combinations we chose, it makes sense to practice them repetitively. Even in the free form of shadow boxing, a fighter returns over and over to those combinations he was worked on. Left jab, right hook. Right cross, left hook, right hook, whatever.

It is my belief that the more progress a fighter makes in his training, all things being equal, the fewer things he is likely to practice. The fighter will have those combinations he knows are effective and he will focus on those. This is especially true if he knows that the practice of one combination leads to effectiveness in others. Why be horrible at 500 techniques, when you can get pretty good at 50. And why spread your training equally across 50, when what you really need to focus on is five to ten. The point is that if you really want to focus on 5 to 10, to get and stay absolutely your best, then it is hard to find the time for the other 40, to remain reasonably proficient. For the other 450, it is best not to spend too much energy on them.

Yabu Kentsu told his students "Karate begins and ends with Naihanchi." One way of interpreting this is that beginners were taught Naihanchi, and as these karate students matured, they would learn and master other kata. But as they grew older, they would return to Naihanchi, to their basics, to their roots.

But it doesn't really matter what your source of techniques are. They can from kata, or elsewhere. If they are effective, and you train effectively, and you practice the combinations repetitively, you will get better at them, and be better able to use them effectively. A key lesson is that if one has a goal of getting better at fighting, one should be wary of practicing too many combinations, all with little repetitiveness. So the question is should lots of kata be practiced separately and independently from the practice of the hundreds of fighting applications that they contain.

That, IMO is the challenge of much of "traditional" karate, as it is practiced today. The major karate systems, for certain historical reasons, have become too broad with too many kata. Instead of learning and focusing on a core set of kata-based movements, novices are taught kata after kata. Instead of enhancing and developing a core set of kata-based movements, intermediate students are taught kata after kata. And instead advanced students focusing on mastery of and building upon a core set of kata-based movements, they are taught kata after kata.

Kata has been handed down, generation to generation resulting in the "styles" we have today. We can all ask why, and many have. This thread is but one of many that seeks the answer as to why we practice kata. Over the years many students have become tremendously disillusioned. The want to learn self defense, and they are shown kata, with only a fleeting mapping between the movements and effective fighting. Some frustrated students flock to non-traditional systems, some, not seeing the sense of training, stop altogether. I am not surprised. How could students learn effective fighting movements, when each combination requires lots of repetition, in the air, with partners, and against the bag, pad or makiwara. It is no surprise to me that many students rarely get the kind of repetition needed for even a base set of kata-based combinations when they spend so much time practicing all these kata.

As I have written here before, I believe "traditional" karate today, have a number of fundamental flaws in the way students are trained for effective fighting. Regarding the mapping of kata to effective fighting, traditional karate today, IMO, just doesn't do an adequate job because it can't. IMO, there are too many kata taught, too quickly. It wasn't always this way.

Oyata teaches his students that in the old days it took 3 years to learn a kata, 10 years to master it. One of Seiko Higa's students has written that Higa taught the same "10 year" rule. Funakoshi described this when he wrote that it took 10 years to learn all three Naihanchi. Nagamine wrote of this when he said it took Kyan 10 years to master Kusanku. We know that Motobu's students mostly practiced fighting principles from one kata. And one of Higaonna's students tells us that in the early 1900s they generally practiced only two or three kata. So many students should be asking, why is it so common today for systems to teach 10 to 15 kata to students with only a few years training.

I am not arguing that the current system of karate never works. If you have students, like Victor does, that train for 10 or more years, especially for those who do so intensively, then students have more time for the repetition needed to dive deeper into kata and begin to master useful fighting combinations. My concern is there is a fundamental disservice done to perhaps 95% of those students that come into the traditional dojo, at least those with a goal to learn self-defense. They come for a much shorter period of time. And the current system of "traditional" karate is ill-suited to give them lifelong skills. Too much time is wasted on too many kata for which they will never learn the applications, as each combination, noted above, requires a lot of repetition to get good at.

I practice kata for many reasons. The primary reason is to get good at self-defense. I believe that kata are the repository of great fighting combinations, and that some, such as Naihanchi or Kusanku, have incredible depth in numbers of effective combinations. But I believe the Okinawans were correct when they taught that to get good at even one kata truly requires 10 years of practice. I find that mastery of good fighting requires lots of repetition, and the practice of a few kata is the only way I can truly improve my fighting skills. Certainly for my students, I find that less is more.

This study of few kata has an interesting off-thread corollary. When I want to tell my students what style they practice, I don't have a good answer. The few kata we train in are Shorin Ryu kata, but can I say we practice Shorin Ryu if I reject the current standard Shorin Ryu approach of many kata?

And how can I say what version of Shorin Ryu I practice. I have studied with students in the 5 major lineages that descend from Itosu, and my practice of kata reflects the great variations found across those systems, as well as those descending from Kyan and Soken. Moreover, I have developed full sword and spear/bo implementations for the kata I do practice, so that puts me way out of "traditional" Shorin Ryu.

I think this thread poses an excellent question, "why do you practice kata". But I have another related question that I think gets to the true problem with kata. For many students of the arts, I would like to ask "why do you practice so many kata."

Unfortunately, I believe the true answer in many, many cases is that they have no choice. They are part of some "traditional" style that has a non-negotiable set of kata that they must train in to pass rank tests. And when they progress long enough to teach, in order to remain part of a "style's" organization, they are obliged to pass on the same ill-conceived training rituals to their students.

I have one more related question. If student, training in a system of 15-20 kata, wanted to learn them at a deliberative pace (say 1 every 3 years), so that they could better learn the fighting applications, would their "styles" even permit it?

....Stepping off soapbox....

-Kakushite

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#372530 - 12/04/07 11:11 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: butterfly]
Ed_Morris Offline
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Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
agreed. I assume you experiment with things? try variations or play on themes? maybe consiously, maybe adhoc....but within the bounds of reason based on experience and ability, you try stuff. deep down that is using your mind's eye of imagination. The thing that unlocks that is developing the ability to imagine something working, then adjusting it a bit based on the realities of a resisting partner. if you like it, you keep it...if you don't or it turns out to be too far fetched, you toss it.

That process - imagining, trying, weighing is what builds new connections. not new things to memorize, but actually learning how to be adaptable. eg: 'playing'.


it's my subjective opinion that kata assists and guides that process.

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#372531 - 12/04/07 11:25 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: kakushiite]
BrianS Offline
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Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
kakushiite,

Good post and points to ponder. My instructor felt that there were too many kata even in our style,Goju, which only has twelve.
I learned the taikyoku series, sanchin, seiunchin, sanseru, and then tensho in a period of about 6years. Even to this day I don't know any other kata,but I feel the kata I do know I can do well.
I think my instructor is right in his logic as well.

_________________________
The2nd ammendment, it makes all the others possible. <///<




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#372532 - 12/04/07 11:27 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Ed_Morris]
BrianS Offline
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Registered: 11/04/05
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Loc: Northwest Arkansas
Quote:

agreed. I assume you experiment with things? try variations or play on themes? maybe consiously, maybe adhoc....but within the bounds of reason based on experience and ability, you try stuff. deep down that is using your mind's eye of imagination. The thing that unlocks that is developing the ability to imagine something working, then adjusting it a bit based on the realities of a resisting partner. if you like it, you keep it...if you don't or it turns out to be too far fetched, you toss it.

That process - imagining, trying, weighing is what builds new connections. not new things to memorize, but actually learning how to be adaptable. eg: 'playing'.


it's my subjective opinion that kata assists and guides that process.





Couldn't agree more. It's not the beginning and the end of learning, only a process of it.
_________________________
The2nd ammendment, it makes all the others possible. <///<




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#372533 - 12/05/07 12:32 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: BrianS]
butterfly Offline
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Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA
For you Brian and for you Ed, this of course may certainly be the case. But if the same thing can be done without the kata, then the question becomes how important to the process is the kata?

If it helps, and for some, this may be a fine way of learning. For others, the appreciation factor just isn't there and thus you find yourself back in 8th grade with one hand supporting your involuntarily nodding head as the most boring teacher in the world drones on causing non-genetic narcolepsy in all who hear his lecture.

Kata may be away of aiding some, just not all. But for those who savor such things, go for it!

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#372534 - 12/05/07 03:59 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Shonuff]
jude33 Offline
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Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1539
Quote:



Thanks for the contributions, there are some very interesting views.

Jude,
If I'm understanding you correctly were you describing smashing someone's fingers with your forearm??? I could not visualise the technique very well, but it certainly does sound fairly unique, although what I have pictured in my head would not work very well as the person getting their fingers smashed could hit with his non grabbed hand. I can't see it working.




OK
I will try to explain it better.
This might be considered the demonstrating version of a technique taken from kata.

Face another person. Perhaps let them know what you intend doing first.
Both extend your arms in front waist level.
Palms facing down
Bend your left arm at the left elbow inwards
Grab the other persons left wrist with the left hand. Palm still facing down.
Bring the right fore arm up into the other persons fingers.

Doesnt work if they make a fist. But then there are other techniques if they do.


There are prior techniques before and after the said technique. I think I did state that. It could be a stand alone technique but as correctly pointed out there is danger from the other hand or the head etc Although the technique is isolated in my description there are other technique before and after.

I think it is unique and would work given the correct application(s).

Quote:



But if you find unique techniques in your karate kata then that is certainly a great reason to continue studying them.

For myself I tend to see unique or uniquely approached strategies as opposed to techniques.





From my studies and understanding the strategies will come later.
I think each individual technique also has to be studied.
Intensly. With variations. More than likely why kata study was said to have took so long in days gone by.

So if you say the technique seems to be unique then that more or less might prove that hidden techniques are in some kata.

I personaly think there is. Hundreds of them.

Butterfly. Hi.
Quote:


Kata may be away of aiding some, just not all. But for those who savor such things, go for it!





While I understand and in part agree with your thoughts.

Some where in my tired brain cells I remember seeing a video
on you tube of some one who does your style teaching a set of moves that he had put in to a pre-arranged "set"

I dont suppose this could be seen as drawing a sort of parrallel with kata? minus the hidden parts? To remember the moves?

Jude

Still a student.


Edited by jude33 (12/05/07 04:26 AM)

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#372535 - 12/05/07 09:26 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: butterfly]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

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

If it helps, and for some, this may be a fine way of learning. For others, the appreciation factor just isn't there ...



hence the word choice of subjective opinion.

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#372536 - 12/05/07 10:15 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: jude33]
oldman Offline
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Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 5884
Quote:

Some where in my tired brain cells I remember seeing a video
on you tube of some one who does your style teaching a set of moves that he had put in to a pre-arranged "set"




Ashihara's dirty little secret closet kata
_________________________
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#372537 - 12/05/07 11:06 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: harlan]
Ronin1966 Offline
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Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3116
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Harlan:

I do not wish to digress, but if your second sentiment is true... then why not merely punch/kick trees and be done with it? Even the necessity for repetition must be given intelligent context... yes?

Jeff

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#372538 - 12/05/07 11:25 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Ronin1966]
harlan Offline
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Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6665
Loc: Amherst, MA
I was unaware that kicking and punching trees was an intelligent activity.

Quote:

Hello Harlan:

I do not wish to digress, but if your second sentiment is true... then why not merely punch/kick trees and be done with it? Even the necessity for repetition must be given intelligent context... yes?

Jeff




I think I said: "..just doing the kata trains and strengthens the body in preparation..." Just because others may say there are faster and more efficient ways to do something...doesn't mean that that is the right way for everyone. Personally, as a older student, I have to balance strengthening, re-learning how to 'move', centering, etc. around injuries.

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#372539 - 12/05/07 11:37 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: oldman]
jude33 Offline
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Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1539
Quote:

Quote:

Some where in my tired brain cells I remember seeing a video
on you tube of some one who does your style teaching a set of moves that he had put in to a pre-arranged "set"




Ashihara's dirty little secret closet kata




Ashihara? Kata? Nage no kata sono ichi?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bkk9-2yIHBM&feature=related

It states kata. He is doing it solo.?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oq1ckLOUFOo

Two man drills? Using the solo kata?

Ashihara?

Can the first one be termed a kata?


Jude


Edited by jude33 (12/05/07 12:03 PM)

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#372540 - 12/05/07 11:42 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Ronin1966]
jude33 Offline
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Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1539
Quote:

Hello Harlan:

I do not wish to digress, but if your second sentiment is true... then why not merely punch/kick trees and be done with it? Even the necessity for repetition must be given intelligent context... yes?

Jeff




Hi.

They do and have used trees for training aids.

Or have I missed something as I seem to do when I get involved in some academic type over my head conversations.

Jude

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#372541 - 12/05/07 12:18 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: oldman]
jude33 Offline
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Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1539
Quote:



Ashihara's dirty little secret closet kata





So in effect Butterfly teaches techniques that are in the
kata first then the kata afterwards? Or both together?


Jude


Edited by jude33 (12/05/07 12:22 PM)

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#372542 - 12/05/07 12:22 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: jude33]
butterfly Offline
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Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA
Quote:

Some where in my tired brain cells I remember seeing a video
on you tube of some one who does your style teaching a set of moves that he had put in to a pre-arranged "set"

I dont suppose this could be seen as drawing a sort of parrallel with kata? minus the hidden parts? To remember the moves?





There is a parallel to some aspects of kata as you perform it. But ours is more reminiscent to shadow boxing than not, I think. The forms/kata whatever we do are pre-arranged to show specic techniques with specific principles against specicific attacks.

BTW, I am not against kata per se, or even think it has no value. My contention is that there are other, and for me, better ways to train the same thing more efficiently. But if it works for YOU, then do it.

The movements that you described seeing are close to kata in that they relay a principle of movement. There are no attacks in the 12 basic movements that we do, but it allows an understanding of body flow with and against an opponent.

However, the distinguishing thing is that there is not a "formalized" aesthetic that appears different than the application. It is exactly what and how you would use it.

So what I do may look inelegant and gauche compared with what others do when looking at kata. But the movments are the same as the applications for me...I don't have to invest in removing applications from them that may or may not be functional. For me, they simply are what they are...a kick or a punch or a grab or a throw. Nothing hidden.

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#372543 - 12/05/07 12:37 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: butterfly]
jude33 Offline
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Posts: 1539
http://users.iafrica.com/a/as/ashihara/webdoc29.htm

I think I have to be carefull here otherwise it might be missunderstood.

Your training methods and indeed the kata I like them.
I think ashihara would be a good style to train in.
It to me looks very much the Japanese influence
The small amount of techniques I am gaining through kata study to me is a different way( to me anyhow) of doing things.
Very much the chinese influence. Hidden chinese influence.
But it is early days. Long study ahead.

Nothing wrong with either. But realy worlds apart. So Different.

Jude


Edited by jude33 (12/05/07 12:39 PM)

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#372544 - 12/05/07 01:25 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: jude33]
butterfly Offline
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Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA
Jude,

You have to remember too, like so much that changes or passes on when the founder of a system dies, the stuff you listed isn't necessarily what I studied or was given to me by my instructor. This organization is not even affiliated with what is claimed as the more authenticly branched Ashihara (whatever that means). It really doesn't matter as long as you have good instrution and you like it.

However, there is a disconnect here with the use of WTF forms or TKD forms. In fact, in one of the book's that Koncho Ashihara wrote he decried the use and practice of traditional kata. You wouldn't see this done in an Ashihara Dojo under his name when he was alive.

I can tell you for sure that you wouldn't practice WTF or TKD kata at an Ashihara dojo, period. Since his son is the head of the system, I doubt that would change either.

Hoosain Narker, I believe is the head of the system you linked and was an ushi-deschi student under Ninomiya (if I am not mistaken), prior to Ninomiya leaving Ashihara and founding Enshin Karate.

The stuff may be very similar to the things that I was taught, I don't know. I just know that the focus on these kata is not something that was given huge consideration when I trained while Ashihara was still alive, nor was there any consideration of these other style's kata imported into our training. That would have been anathema to our training.

Just as something to consider, which doesn't mean much to anyone except myself, my original instructor was Yoshida Sensei. A very good friend and contemporary of Ninomiya. Yoshida was the head hombu instructor for Koncho Ashihara when he was alive and who later set up dojos in Australia and in California under the aegis of Ashihara to go out and convert the masses.

I was one of those that liked the training well enough to stick around. But like anything that claims the same name or lineage, you might get an Apple I-Pod, or you might get a Honk Kong Eye-Pawd. Couldn't even tell you if one is worse than the other, but they are probably not the same after you get past the plastic cover.

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#372545 - 12/05/07 02:10 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: butterfly]
Victor Smith Offline
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Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
Kakushite,

As a starting point it is necessary to understand that how programs utilize kata is not of one dimension. Looking at a program that teaches kata after kata, but doesn’t get into subsidiary training doesn’t describe a program that does.

Similarly using past references about what karate should or shouldn’t be is oft times more selective than what may have happened. Perhaps some instructors did spend 3 years on one kata, perhaps some did only use a hand full of kata, that does not prove that is the best model for instruction.

I see the past as a multitude of oral histories, few which can be proven independently.

One way of seeing the past is each generation of instructors followed their own lead. Hiagonna Kanryo may have only taught kata x,y and z, but his student Miyagi Chojun still added others. Many took advantage of each experience they had and choose to add new kata from their studies or not, chose to ignore kata, or even to craft new ones, each for different reasons, as how the study of those kata was to be used too.

The clear lesson is that there are no rules binding anything from karate. Each generation made their own choices.

It does appear in the past 100 years many instructors took advantage of whatever information they came to posses. Even if just adding new beginning kata to their studies.

The issue to day isn’t that things changed in the past, but how best to utilize the choices any of us have experienced.

The study of kata is rarely just one approach fits all. How kata are utilized in a program is vastly different from program to program. Rather than worry about others let me talk about my own choices and those of some of my friends.

First let me refer to the Joe Swift description of karate era:

Classical Karate – Pre 1900 in Okinawa
Traditional Karate – Roughly 1900 to 1950 (the Japanese expansion period)
Modern Karate – Post 1950
Contemporary Karate – the past 10 years

I practice a system of karate that was created on Okinawa in the Modern period, the mid 1950’s based on the Classical approach of Kyan (small group instruction). My own focus was on how karate was transmitted pre 1900 (the Classical Era) and while I use some elements of group instruction from the Traditional period for my youth program, my programs still focus on Classical, almost one to one, instruction.

As I studied Isshinryu it contained 8 empty hand kata and 6 kobudo kata. Along my way, to obtain a workout, if anyone I trained with taught anything I learn it, and studied on the order of 200 forms from many systems. The system that I transmit is the complete Isshinryu system as I studied it, and a few more things, rounding out around 37 kata practices, 14 of which are requirements for sho-dan.

My youth program keeps about 20 young people in it, with an average of 7 to 9 years training to reach sho-dan. My adult program is much smaller keeping to my pre-1900 goals. On aggregate I have about 5 programs of study, each using the same program content but focused to the ages and potentials of the students. At any one time there are maybe 3 of them running.

Now this background helps me get to the point you make, “My concern is there is a fundamental disservice done to perhaps 95% of those students that come into the traditional dojo, at least those with a goal to learn self-defense. They come for a much shorter period of time. And the current system of "traditional" karate is ill-suited to give them lifelong skills. Too much time is wasted on too many kata for which they will never learn the applications, as each combination, noted above, requires a lot of repetition to get good at. ”

The first thing is a good instructor should be explaining to their potential students exactly what their training will be doing. I make it very clear to those who train with me it will be more than a few years before we move past the first set of movement skill acquisition. I not only explain the what, but also the why this is so.

Having trained both with instructors from many different systems with extremely high level of technique execution in any sort of attacking situation, and having trained people from 7 to almost 70 for a period of 30 years I have a lot of experience how long it takes to build the skills I am teaching. While we do try and address the new students needs within their capabilities, trying to build short term MA’s is not my interest.

There are times that may be necessary and my program would shift to short term basic skill acquisition if that was the necessity, but it hasn’t been the need and is not our need at this time.

Of course as I don’t charge, test or promote willy nilly, the students are free to train or move on as they wish. Because it’s very hard to find the existence of my program, those that do so tend to stay with the training a bit.

But as I have about five different basic approaches to the training, at any time some of them are no being utilized because of the student’s actual needs.

The crux of course for this discussion is kata, the key of karate, period.

Human potential can be limited to one way of learning, but as educational researchers have discovered there is more than one type of learning potential in each human, we also have the ability to participate in multiple types of learning activity at the same time.

While I understand the desire to keep things simple, I believe that is a trap to our full potential. We are quite capable of working on large learning as well as small learning at the same time. We can learn many kata, and also just focus on say one without binding ourselves.

Movement skill takes time to acquire. Application skill also takes time, but there is no reason when you’ve developed sufficient movement skill that you cannot work on sets of application skill and also continue to expand movement skill potential and at the same time and perfect other previously earned skills.

Another complemenetary skill set is tactical skill, how to choose which response fits an attack, or how to tactically set up an atttacker to conclude with a specific skill.

One set of training, movement skill acquisition, application skill acquisition or tactical skill acquisition are complete studies in thier own right. The strongest case is made when they are separate but complimentary studies.

Yes, all we may need is a small set of highly practiced skills to constrain any attack. But life is long and why restrict ourselves to a few skills? It is just as useful to develop new skills continually and replace older skills with newer ones?. This keeps your mind fresh as well as your core for defense.

Any set of kata 3 or 30 contain hundreds to thousands of skills that may be applied. When you increase the number of the kata you really haven’t changed the dimension of the task.

I’ve never felt it was important to understand everything in a short time such as 3 years. Take 20 and you have a chance to move into the depth of study.

In no way do I consider my students study too deep. I’ve trained with instructors in Isshinryu with 8 kata who practice thousands of application studies. I’ve trained with a Shotokan instructor that teaches thousands of ‘bunkai’ for his Shotokan kata from the kakushite point of view. I’ve trained with a Faan Tzi Ying Jow Pai stylist who had to correctly execute 75 forms for his master instructor qualification, many of those forms longer than the entire body of Okinawan kata, as well as participate in sparring with the multitude of Ying Jow Pai locks, takedowns, etc. with no restriction.

Each of them having courses of instruction challenging their students to their maximum ability. Compared to my program I don’t consider what I’m teaching terribly challenging, just a long term study.

If anyone wants other answers, fine, but my students don’t pay, they’ve trained with me and they’ve trained with my friends and have a very good grasp to where we’re working.

What the individual accomplishes is up to them, but I won’t work to make our study less challenging.

The role of kata is very complex. For one thing, over the long years it is a way to keep re-adjusting to our changing potential. The young grow bigger, stonger and faster. The older eventually slow and change in a different direction. For one thing kata allows us to objectively work on our continually changing potential.

I do not teach depth of application potential in the beginning ranks. The new sho dan will spend roughly 6 months acquiring some skill with the first movement section of the first Isshinryu kata – seisan, developing a fair amount of skill towards stopping attacks of any source with that one section. There are maybe 50 application potentials explored for that one movement, just a piece of the potential, but capable of disrupting almost any sort of attack. This covers the skills, the underlying principles how the applications are found and work, and works up to random full force attacks and counter appropriately.

This becomes a core skill component. From that point the unrestricted long term study of kata application potential continues, and they can add or subtract skills from their personal preference as they dictate.

The key component is that you must have qualified instructors to make this work. I spend a minimum of 15 years training an instructor before they are ready to take the helm of a class. This is not to make them a clone, but to give them both the tools and the structural understudy of how things can work.

Great skill in execution at any level and deep kata study and broad kata study are not incompatible. They just take the work which karate was created to accomplish.

It’s obvious you don’t have to follow this path, but this is what I do.


Edited by Victor Smith (12/05/07 02:19 PM)
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#372546 - 12/05/07 07:34 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Victor Smith]
kakushiite Offline
Member

Registered: 02/06/03
Posts: 266
Loc: Ithaca, NY, USA
Victor,

In my post, I mentioned that some instructors do manage to overcome the challenge of “too many kata” and specifically named you. I know that many of your students train for many years, and good teachers, with long term students, can often overcome this hurdle. Plus, I would say that Isshin Ryu tends to be well on the lower side of the "too many kata" problem. More important, Shimabuku passed on lots of kata applications to his students, something that I do not believe was all that common.

I see a big divide between students, who train, on average, less, versus life-long karateka, who become teachers and who tend to be more devoted to their arts.

My compliant is not with those who have trained long enough to develop good self-defense skills, and then choose, once they have developed this foundation, to branch out and practice more kata. My broader criticism is of those systems that require inexperienced students to practice a large set of kata, regardless of whether all (or even most) of the kata have value for the student. Importantly, I believe that the practice of many kata prevents the deeper learning of all of the kata practiced.

All dojos train somewhat differently. I know this from experience, as I have had the good fortune to have been able to visit many dojos over my career in the arts. But in discussing the issue of many versus few kata, I think it would be helpful to propose a "typical" training regimen in a "typical" kata-heavy traditional karate system. Below I describe the breakdown of a 2 hour workout of a “typical” karate system that trains in kata, sparring, kobudo and self-defense. An average karate student, would be expected, on average, to go through two of these workouts a week.

15 minutes - warmup/exercises
15 minutes - repetitive drills
• Offensive/defensive kicking patterns, strikes, blocks, pad-bag work
15 minutes - self defense applications non-kata based
15 minutes - sparring
10 minutes - kobudo kata
10 minutes – kobudo partner work
15 minutes - karate kata
15 minutes – kata application
10 minutes - sitting, observing/listening

What is important here is not the specific amounts of time spent on each training component. The point is that many, many systems are so full of sparring, self-defense, bag/makiwara work and kobudo, that often, only a fraction of the training time can be spent on kata and kata application.

In the breakout above, I have allocated fully ¼ of the training time to kata and kata application. Many “traditional” karate systems allocate less.

Let’s take a typical Shotokan student after 3 years of training. At that point he may have learned 12 kata. Taikyokus, Pinans, some Naihanchi, probably Bassai dai and Empi, maybe Bassai sho. So how does this relative novice practice all these kata?

When it comes time to practice kata, many, many schools run through the all their kata from the beginning. For a student with 3 years training that has learned 12 kata, he will perhaps perform 1-2, or at most 3 repetitions of a given kata since that is all that can be done in 15-20 minutes. And when it comes to application, how much can truly be practiced in partner work in 15 minutes for 12 different kata. It is my belief that you can’t practice much more than a handful of movements effectively in 15 minutes. Yet these kata together comprise some 100 combinations that could be used in hundreds of ways.

I began my earlier post with a discussion of the importance of repetition in so many physical endeavors. In traditional karate, we have many, many students, who in the course of a week might practice a specific kata 2, 3, 4 or maybe 5 times. I do not believe that, in general, doing something just a few times each week generates effective fighting capabilities. The average fighter benefits from more repetitions. A boxer might throw a left jab/right hook combination hundreds of times in the course of 4 hours of training.

Regarding karate training, the story I like best, I have told here before, but it is worth repeating. Iha sensei learned it from Shinpan Gusukuma, a student of Itosu and Higaonna. Gusukuma wanted to learn the Japanese art of the spear and traveled to Japan to study Naginata on his summer vacation. He was shown the Nuki, and told to practice it. He did so for many hours. Each day he came back, and trained in more of the same. At the end of his 2 week vacation, he asked the sensei how long was typical before a student learned the next technique. "About 3 years" she replied.

If this was a model of Naginata training in Japan 80 years ago, my question is why did karate training so quickly explode into a system of so many kata for beginners? My view is that we are saddled with whatever kata the master learned, as they typically passed down most or all of the kata they knew.

Now I have argued above, that it often makes sense, in the long term, to train in more kata, perhaps a dozen or more might be a good amount. But this concept of learning everything your master learned becomes increasing foolish the higher the kata numbers go. As a Shito Ryu student under a student of Kuniba and Hayashi, I was taught 25 kata and 5 weapons kata in the fours years before I was promoted to Shodan. The spigot continued as in the next 5 years, as I strived to be able to perform most of the 50 of the Shito Ryu kata. Why? Because Shito Ryu has all those kata. I found in my Shotokan training that the initial numbers only slightly less daunting, although kobudo is far less common.

I have trained with Iha Sensei in Kobayashi and the way kata is practiced is the way I described it above. Kata are performed typically with only a single repetition until they are all complete. Plus many Iha students train in kobudo, and this can cut into empty hand practice time. When I trained in Koeikan, from the Toyama heritage, kata again was practiced the same, going through the kata you know, with only one or two repetitions each. When I trained with an Oyata student, again, it was much the same. Although Oyata’s students do focus pretty heavily on self defense movements from kata. In the Matsubayashi dojo I visited I was pleased the kata reps were generally somewhat higher. In the Shorinji-Ryu dojo I trained in, (under a Richard Kim student), there were a whole lot of kata, most practiced just a few times at most.

A couple of years back I attended a seminar with one of Oyata's senior students. At dinner after the session, he complained that he just had too many kata. He was both surprised and somewhat envious when I told him I had cut down to a very small number.

When looking at the question of why kata are practiced, I have a simple question for Shotokan (and Shito Ryu) students. If you are already practicing 15-20 kata after a few years training, why is any time at all spent on Jitte? The self-defense movements are surely very obscure. The typical Shotokan dojo, which does little in bunkai, certainly spends no real meaningful practice on the uses of Jitte. Why? There are a variety of reasons. But there is one reason that can’t be overlooked, the elephant in the room, if you will. There is just no time. There are just too many kata, practiced too infrequently, to make a dent in the study of Jitte. And if the movements will never be practiced in a way that can ever make them useful for fighting, the $64,000 question is why are they practiced at all?

Well, that’s because Shotokan practices Jitte, and that is the way it is, whether it makes any sense or not. Funakoshi, in the master text, wrote that in his day, most masters knew one, two or at most a few kata. But he thought it was just fine to make the jump to 16.

Then when his students visited Mabuni in Osaka, they were taught Bassai Sho, Kusanku Sho, Jiin, Chinte, Niseishi, Gojushiho, Unsu and others as well. (There may be other sources of these in Shotokan).

Most of these additions are long complex kata, and they were just layered over the top of a system that jumped from a tradition of a few to 16. Why? Because that is what Mabuni taught these Shotokan students, so now they are part of the system, and novices get to learn them at a rapid rate. And for those so fortunate to be training in the Shito Ryu systems, they get to learn ALL of the Itosu kata, ALL of the Higaonna kata, the white crane kata from Go Kenki, the 3 Aragaki kata and the half dozen kata from Mabuni himself. For those Shito Ryu students in Hayashi-ha, they get to learn all that plus the added prize of the Ryue-Ryu kata that Hayashi learned from Nakaima.

Victor, there is a commercial dojo not far from you. I visited it some 5 or 6 years ago on a trip to NH. It may be in Manchester proper, or just may be in Derry. It's a big, beautiful dojo, with a slate lined entry, with a fountain, and the dojo back further behind a big glass wall. I sat down with one of the students and looked at the literature. It showed the empty hand kata that the sensei had learned (and perhaps taught). It was an enormous list, somewhere near 70, perhaps higher. And the kobudo list had dozens of entries. While I do know that this isn't all that uncommon for some Chinese systems, it was never the way that karate was practiced on Okinawa.

And this amassing of kata is not limited to karate. Taira Shinken did the same for kobudo what Mabuni did for karate. He gathered dozens of kata, and his students strive to learn a great many of them.

And in the end, too many of these karate styles wind up having so much, that they wind up trying to pass on too much of it to beginners, thereby depriving these students of the repetition so critically needed to learn effective self defense.

Victor, I am not critical of the way you teach your art. I am not saying it is impossible to effectively teach lots of kata, especially, if you don't swamp beginners with loads of them. You are the exception that proves the rule. However, I do strongly feel that all-too-many schools do their students a serious disservice when they teach kata to novices in so rapid a succession. There’s just no time for effective repetition, and no time for effective practice of application. And IMO, it’s just no way for a student to best learn how to use karate effectively.

-Kakushite

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#372547 - 12/05/07 09:17 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: kakushiite]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
another point of view is the observation that people make too big of a deal of any 1 kata. there are chinese systems that have lots more forms than any Okinawan system. with each kata averaging several minutes to go thru. many chinese systems don't embue the culture to revere, pick-apart and analyze the minutia - they train a kata for some length of time, then move on without revisiting past kata much. The idea is to not get locked into or attached to things too much.

...there is a certain wisdom to that for consideration.


In one sense, Japanese/Okinawan derrived kata can be thought of as a digital representation of Chinese kata's analog economy of movement. which also gives the dichonic image of focused but stiff vs. messy yet flowing.

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#372548 - 12/05/07 09:43 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: kakushiite]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

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

Just a small historical note. Isshinryu when my instructors studied (59-60 and 71 in Okinawa) it did not teach kata applications, per sea. When I was a student there were no applications studies. Isshinryu's founder, Shimabuku Tatsuo did include a set of about 45 situational self defense techniques, but many of the US Marines, did not study them as their unit duties often did not contain enough time to do so.

My instructor focused on only a handful of grab counters. But his friend from the same training time (who did have the chance to learn the 45 techniques) returning to the states, realized those techniques came from kata. Then he spent the next 40 years digging out every principle, every technique application potential he could find, coupled with intense work on the makiwara and the realization that only one pressure point made sense, any place on the body you could strike or kick. That focus end with him discovering a treasure trove within Isshinryu kata for him and his students.

My own path, started long years before I met him, came from my association with that Shotokan instructor and the Faan Tzi Ying Jow Pai instructor I previously mentioned and focused me on how I could actually use Isshinryu from my own efforts. When later I met Sherman Harrill and his efforts, it was like an executive course of study.

I do understand your point about other schools but put much more focus on what I can do and not what others are doing.

The school you mention is in the next town over from me. They were a very long term Goju school that switched over to a Seibukan variation of Shorin Ryu (and kept both curricula) as well as another complex set of kobudo kata. An outside instructor of a Shorin and Kobudo tradition was the source of their material.

That school has a huge currucula, but I personally concur after lengthy studies of my own, that much material isn't terribly needed. But they are a full time dojo and follow their own path.

The past happened, but it is not clear why many changes occured, just that they did. I would like to think, as I have experienced, those changes came into existence by long study and work of those instructors.

I suspect, however, the problems that you refer to were the result of larger size classes and less personal time with the instructor, than the number of kata studied.

Look except for viewing the instructors of the current and past generations in action, we have no idea what the actual competence of the earlier instructors, the standards of execution and the goals people trained towards.

Of course in those days there was not the contemporary instant information and entertainment industry. Long training in karate may well have been a welcome way to spend evenings on older Okinawa.

All I see shows the real constant on Okinawa was constant change, both there and when karate was transplanted into Japan. This continues to this day.

How we deal with those changes, how we use them for our own goals shapes who and what we become.
_________________________
victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#372549 - 12/06/07 12:24 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: butterfly]
jude33 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1539
I can see your points. I think there are certain kata I would not like to practice. They have become can I say "to commercialised". Perhaps this is why your founder took the view he did. I dont know.

Jude.

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#372550 - 12/06/07 07:21 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Shonuff]
fileboy2002 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/13/05
Posts: 999
Loc: Chicago, IL
The reason most martial artists study kata is because their teachers had them study it and so on back through time. Traditional martial arts have tended to emphasize "tradition" over innovation--as if martial art X was perected 500 years ago and the main task now is to keep it pure. Not very conducive to critical thinking.

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#372551 - 12/06/07 07:47 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: fileboy2002]
Victor Smith Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 3220
Loc: Derry, NH
The traditional Okinawan arts were built on tradition, yes, but a tradition of constant change. You can see how kata flowed from generation through generation. How new kata came into existence.

A large part of that tradition wasn't that the student changed things, instead the instructor, taking long personal expeience over decades, used that experience to direct their change.

Constant change but with directed intent.

The rule "THOU SHALL NOT CHANGE KATA" had no basis except as a tool to shape beginners. The instructors had the message, there really were no rules, but against the context of their lives, they first worked for advanced skill and then, and only then, worried about were other options required, and if so moved to fill that need.
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victor smith bushi no te isshinryu offering free instruction for 30 years

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#372552 - 12/06/07 07:52 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: fileboy2002]
oldman Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 5884
Quote:

Traditional martial arts have tended to emphasize "tradition"




One small step for critical thinking, one giant leap for fileboy.

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#372553 - 12/06/07 08:43 PM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: oldman]
Shonuff Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 603
Loc: London, UK
On the few kata versus many debate:

Funakoshi did note that in the past masters may have only studied two or three kata and study them very deeply. He also noted that in recent years there had come a trend to learn many kata with no study just learning and practicing the sequence.
However the path he himself advocated was a middle ground: learn many kata moving on once a sequence was learned and performance was sufficiently skilled, BUT, after going through the curriculum one should return to the begining kata and study each in depth one by one.
This method gives the advantage of constantly challenging the students co-ordination and preventing him from being locked into patterns of movement while making sure that he is physically aware, fit strong and competent in his movements before begining deep study of fighting applications.

The 15 or 16 kata Funakoshi brought over were in my view a complete system. In his own words they were meant to give Japanese students an overview of all of Karate's movements and learning more kata would be pointless as one would just be replicating movements.

Later his attitude changed, but I think that methodology is quite ideal. It's why my own kata study has become limited to The kata that Funakoshi originally taught and one extra that I really like.
_________________________
It's Shotokan not Shoto-can't!!!

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#372554 - 12/07/07 07:24 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: Shonuff]
jude33 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1539
Quote:

On the few kata versus many debate:

Funakoshi did note that in the past masters may have only studied two or three kata and study them very deeply. He also noted that in recent years there had come a trend to learn many kata with no study just learning and practicing the sequence.
However the path he himself advocated was a middle ground: learn many kata moving on once a sequence was learned and performance was sufficiently skilled, BUT, after going through the curriculum one should return to the begining kata and study each in depth one by one.
This method gives the advantage of constantly challenging the students co-ordination and preventing him from being locked into patterns of movement while making sure that he is physically aware, fit strong and competent in his movements before begining deep study of fighting applications.

The 15 or 16 kata Funakoshi brought over were in my view a complete system. In his own words they were meant to give Japanese students an overview of all of Karate's movements and learning more kata would be pointless as one would just be replicating movements.

Later his attitude changed, but I think that methodology is quite ideal. It's why my own kata study has become limited to The kata that Funakoshi originally taught and one extra that I really like.




Or that some of the mechanics of the techniques in kata were scattered amongst the many shotokan kata. Therefore the need to stick at that style and come back the first kata learned.

I suppose if that is true it is partly for education purposes and partly marketing purposes.


My guess at the moment cant prove it yet.
One point. I think I have dissproved one of Brian's(Unyu)
valid points.In doing so gained some good information. Nothing major.
Jude


Edited by jude33 (12/07/07 07:25 AM)

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#372555 - 12/07/07 07:30 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: fileboy2002]
jude33 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 03/14/07
Posts: 1539
Quote:

The reason most martial artists study kata is because their teachers had them study it and so on back through time. Traditional martial arts have tended to emphasize "tradition" over innovation--as if martial art X was perected 500 years ago and the main task now is to keep it pure. Not very conducive to critical thinking.




If a person just practices kata then they might reach that conclusion. If they begin to study kata that conclusion might change.
I use to practice kata for gradings. It use to sometimes bore me and confuse me.

Now I get less confused. Just a tingling in the brain. The brain is working.

Jude

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#372556 - 12/07/07 10:54 AM Re: Why do YOU study kata? [Re: fileboy2002]
Neko456 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 01/18/05
Posts: 3260
Loc: Midwest City, Ok, USA
1st lets get an understanding there is a difference in Studying Kata and performing Kata just for Tourneys and Grading, or understanding each move or variation and just doing the movement, screaming and facial expression. After studying the applications in the kata, it actually becomes more like shadow boxing you are practicing how each application maybe approached and applied. It gets deeper and deeper.

But on a purely application base some of these techniques you could hardly ever think of on your on, and I find myself smiling of how wise these Masters were that they describe applicable techniques that apply now as they do then. Except now you would go to jail if you finsihed a combination in most katas.

Because the human body has limited weapon I'm also amused at how often you come across the same techniques thats found in the basic forms that you do in some of the systems founded Islands and nations away. Studying on your own is fine but then you only have your experinences and application to build from but input from 100s of years helps boarden your arisen though it chains you to a method early on.

I also have seen that kata is Universal communicator of Karate or the MA. It doesn't matter if the users are Japanese, Chinese, German, Russia, French, Iran, Korean or USA, you don't know each others language but start doing a Kata. And you all are near or on one page maybe slightly different version but commuicating and having fun if you are open minded. This understanding of kata expands to application and fighting spending the whole evening without missing a step enjoying each other without speaking a word of the others langauge. All though at the end of session you will pickup some common useage of the others langauge because you are having such fun.

Everything about the Martial arts doesn't require a cage or Octogon and gloves.
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