Ninja Master wrote:
"Martial" is only half of what you're supposed to be learning; there is also some "Arts" involved.

If your primary concern is with the "Martial" aspect, buy a gun, a can of pepper spray and a Rottweil Metzgerhund. If you feel you've something else to express aside this basic "Martial", however, keep practicing your kata and pay attention to what you're doing. If your feelings become overwhelming, try another style that does not include forms.

The issue of arts, in my mind, is a given. The Chinese passed on kata-based arts to the Okinawans. The question I have asked here is to what extent the "Bu" of Budo represented true martial or military arts. It is believed today that these Chinese forms were geared solely, or at least primarily for non-military empty hand purposes. My study leads me to believe otherwise. I have posted here on this topic since this forum concerns kata and the application of kata.

I believe the historical record is such that we should at least consider the possibility that some of the Chinese kata passed on to Okinawans were designed, at least in part for military purposes. Prior to the advent of firearms, military fighting was conducted primarily with the spear.

Some time ago, I began looking at how empty hand kata might work in propelling different kinds of weapons. It began as a way to enhance empty hand kata, but along the way I have found that many Okinawan kata work remarkably well in propelling a spear in effective fighting combinations. I believe that others, over time, once they try some of these concepts, may come to see kata in a different light.

Six months ago I began a videoblog ( of the application of Okinawan empty hand kata for use with a spear. To date I have published over 30 hours of video (some instruction, but mostly training) in an effort to document these concepts. I have demonstrated 20 kata on my blog, and over the next several years I plan to extend this to 40 kata total.

I, like many, find great value in the repetitive practice of kata. I have shifted my practice from empty hand, to the use of the spear. Now I find it even more rewarding. I used to have serious doubts about the effectiveness of many kata combinations for empty hand fighting. Now I have far greater confidence in the utility of the kata passed down by the Chinese. My study has led me to appreciate the great spear fighting combinations within, and this has motivated me to train even more intensively in these kata. For example, just in the past 3 weeks, I began training in a form that I had little experience in, and in that time, I have documented over 600 repetitions, which I consider a good start towards my progress in that form.

Based on my study, it is my belief that one does not have to abandon karate kata to train in a true martial or military art. Neither does one have to abandon forms to practice ancient military arts. One just has to look at kata a bit differently, and one can practice the old Chinese forms, and true military arts at the same time.

-Mike Eschenbrenner
Cayuga Karate