How do your forms/katas progress?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by skribs, Feb 11, 2018.

  1. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2013
    Messages:
    1,649
    Likes Received:
    320
    Trophy Points:
    123
    Location:
    Lakewood, WA
    I've started a few discussions in the past on curriculums and how they progress, including advancement of patterns, what a white belt should know, and varying teaching styles. I guess the concept of learning itself is fascinating to me. Now, I'm curious about the progression of kata.

    My understanding is that the purpose of kata, regardless of what art or style you practice, is to contain a progressive understanding of the material. That a student who has learned all the katas in your art should have a pretty firm understanding of the art.

    Now, katas themselves can vary widely. In Taekwondo, for example, I think that training in hand techniques is generally left up to forms, but kicking techniques are taught separately as drills. There are some kicks in the forms, but usually not nearly as many as Taekwondo uses in competitions and demonstrations. However, my school has punch and kick combinations that are rote memorized drills, so you could consider those to be part of the kata, and then most of those techniques start to sound covered under kata.

    However, I'm curious about kata themselves. What is it that a kata teaches, and what is it that each kata in a curriculum teaches?

    At my school, Basic Form #1 teaches the basic pattern. Basic Forms #2 & 3 each take Form #1 and add new concepts to it. These are taught at the same belt and you could almost reverse the order. Basic Form #4 combines 2 & 3 together, and I kind of think of it as the first real form. Like Forms #1-3 break down most of the concepts in Form #4.

    After that form, meaning Basic Form #5 and Advanced Forms #1-8, each form adds a couple of new techniques, some new footwork, new concepts, and some increased level of complexity or intricacy. For example, the basic forms all follow an A-B-A-B-A pattern, while Advanced Form #1 is more like A-B-A(2)-B(2)-A, Advanced Form #3 is A-B-C-D-E (but uses the same basic shape as the basic forms) and Advanced Form #7 has a completely different pattern and none of the parts repeat.

    As to techniques, Basic Form #5 uses spinning footwork, Advanced Form #3 has backwards motion and different styles of direction change, and Advanced Form #5 has forward-backward wave-like motions. The forms include new techniques, like Scissor Block, spear-hand thrust, supported 2-hand blocks, and more intricate striking combinations.

    So, to summarize, I'd say that the way my school does katas, each kata builds on what the student already knows, by reinforcing old concepts and techniques, but also adding new ones. Sort of like how in algebra class you still practice your basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division when you are trying to find X.

    However, I'm curious about other arts, or even Taekwondo schools that have different forms. Do your forms teach isolated concepts, such as one form focused on footwork, another focused on defense, another focused on hand strikes, another on throws? Does each form have its own theme, such as defense against certain types of attacks, or techniques of a particular variety? Or do your forms build on each other and reinforce previous concepts while adding new ones?
     
  2. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2012
    Messages:
    6,187
    Likes Received:
    1,509
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
    Each and every style should have at least 3 forms:

    - beginner level,
    - intermediate level,
    - advance level.

    You don't want to have 3 beginner level forms. To go through elementary school 3 times won't give you a PhD degree. You want to grow tall. You don't want to grow fat.

    Take the simple punch for example. For the beginner level, you may just borrow force from the ground and punch while your feet are not moving. During the intermediate training, you may want to add in footwork. When you punch, your feet will slide forward.

    1. beginner level - static punch.
    2. intermediate level - dynamic punch (running punch).
    3. advance level - use kick/punch to set up punch

    You may also separate different level forms in the following:

    1. beginner level - offense skill.
    2. beginner level - defense skill.
    3. beginner level - combo skill (use move 1 to set up move 2).
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  3. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    3,549
    Likes Received:
    1,966
    Trophy Points:
    403
    Location:
    In the dojo
    Traditional karate kata are generally more difficult as the student progresses through the ranks. I guess a way to describe it is that through the kyu ranks, the movements become more awkward when you initially learn each one, if that makes sense. Some build on each other in a way, but not as you’re describing here. Most kyu rank kata that I’ve learned are typically 20 counts. Some dan level kata are a lot longer, others are around 20 counts.

    A lot of kyu level kata share the same embussen, or step pattern, but they don’t share the same movements. Many are a capital I (I have how computer script makes that look like an L), and some are an upside down T. Dan kata drifts further away from this.

    Here’s an example of progression...

     
  4. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2013
    Messages:
    1,649
    Likes Received:
    320
    Trophy Points:
    123
    Location:
    Lakewood, WA
    I'm not seeing the connection to katas here.

    Is there sort of a different theme to each form? Or is it just another list of techniques?

    I do notice a lot of the techniques in the forms in this video are in our forms as well, just in a different order.
     
  5. Midnight-shadow

    Midnight-shadow 3rd Black Belt

    Joined:
    May 29, 2016
    Messages:
    928
    Likes Received:
    242
    Trophy Points:
    58
    In the Chinese White Crane style I studied, there are 3 variations on the "San Zhan" (Sanchin for Karate practitioners). You have the basic "San Zhan", then you have "San Zhan Li Ma", then you have "San Zhan San". While each form follows the same basic pattern (3 steps forwards, 3 steps backwards doing the same hand techniques each time), each form gets progressively harder. Harder footwork, more complex hand techniques, etc.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2012
    Messages:
    6,187
    Likes Received:
    1,509
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
    For the Baji system:

    1. beginner level form - static punch.
    2. intermediate level form - dynamic punch.

    For the Preying mantis system:

    1. beginner level form - speed training.
    2. intermediate level form - body pull/push limbs training.

    For the long fist system:

    1. beginner level form - 1 step 1 punch (power generation training).
    2. intermediate level form - 1 step 3 punch (speed training).
    3. advance level form - 3 steps 1 punch (mobility training).
     
  7. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2013
    Messages:
    1,649
    Likes Received:
    320
    Trophy Points:
    123
    Location:
    Lakewood, WA
    This sounds like you're talking about the evolution of individual techniques, and not techniques that are strung together into a kata.
     
  8. Hyoho

    Hyoho Black Belt

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2013
    Messages:
    582
    Likes Received:
    231
    Trophy Points:
    58
    The kata does not change. It's your understanding, or lack of it that changes. As you advance it hopefully gets better. Levels in kata? Real kata is a breakdown of a waza.

    So I guess if you can make up kata, you can make up levels
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    15,920
    Likes Received:
    4,514
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    I'll speak to the kata I teach, which are different from most in a couple of ways. Most notably, they aren't historical - I created them, so I know the exact intention of their creator.

    Here they are, as they currently exist in my mind (some of these aren't finalized, and one isn't yet created):
    1. 1st Set Classical kata. This moves through the 10 techniques in the 1st Classical set in NGA, flowing form one to the next in their Classical form (the short forms).
    2. Core Non-Classical kata. This doesn't yet exist, and will focus on techniques not in the classical curriculum of NGA, and probably some strikes.
    3. Single-stick kata. This uses a single stick (or club) for strikes, blocks, and locks.
    4. Double-stick kata. This uses two sticks in a series of strikes and blocks.
    5. Staff kata. This, yet again, uses the same movement pattern. It uses a staff (preferably a jo) for strikes, blocks, and sweep.
    6. Flexible weapon kata. I haven't yet started developing this. It will focus on using a flexible improvised weapon (belt, towel, etc.) for blocks, locks, and throws.
    The intent is for all to follow the basic movement pattern of the 1st Set Classical kata - nearly identical footwork and body position, and keeping the hand movements at least vaguely similar.

    There isn't really a progression in the kata. The progression happens in when they learn each of these (the kata comes after they start learning the respective material, as a reinforcement). I am re-using the same movement pattern, to make it easier to learn the subsequent forms. The forms are not a repository of all knowledge, but a way to practice parts of the material. With the weapons, the point is to be able to practice a few moves over and over to get more comfortable with the weapons - that comfort is what leads to the improvisation that makes a weapon truly useful.

    Of these, the first is finalized. 3-5 are thought out but not ready for delivery to students. 2 and 6 are not begun, and may never actually exist.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    15,920
    Likes Received:
    4,514
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    I don't agree that every style needs this progression. I could envision a style with 5 beginner forms, each addressing a different area of the art.
     
  11. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    15,920
    Likes Received:
    4,514
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    A capital H works when you have to work with a sans-serif font.
     
  12. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

    Joined:
    May 16, 2014
    Messages:
    2,604
    Likes Received:
    1,168
    Trophy Points:
    253
    maybe from the koryu view, you are correct, kata does not change. but from my view when talking about karate it does and should. karate kata is often an incomplete and misunderstood Chinese form. the principals and concepts are often bastardized versions of the Chinese equivalent. so they are inherently flawed. over the decades ones understanding deepens and that may cause different timings and target points. changes may be subtle or dramatic but they do happen. i believe that after decades of study you make the kata your own.
     
  13. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

    • Supporting Member
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    15,920
    Likes Received:
    4,514
    Trophy Points:
    448
    Location:
    Hendersonville, NC
    That is a valid use of kata, but not the only valid use IMO.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2012
    Messages:
    6,187
    Likes Received:
    1,509
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
    This is the beginner level Baji form. For each and every punch, the feet are not moving during the punch (static punch). It's used as the elementary school text book.



    This is the intermediate level Baji form. For each and every punch, the feet are sliding on the ground (dynamic punch). It's used as the high school text book.

     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
    • Like Like x 1
    • Disagree Disagree x 1
  15. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2012
    Messages:
    6,187
    Likes Received:
    1,509
    Trophy Points:
    263
    Location:
    Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
    Of course in elementary school, you can have different classes such as English, math, history, ... But the math that you may learn during the elementary school should be different from the math that you will learn in college. There is no way that you will learn "differential equation", or "category theory" in elementary school.

    You may teach "back kick" to beginners. Bu you may only teach "jumping back kick" to more advanced students.

     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  16. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

    Joined:
    May 16, 2014
    Messages:
    2,604
    Likes Received:
    1,168
    Trophy Points:
    253
    @skribs
    what you are asking is going to be very dependent on the style. i think you know that but i am not sure you are aware of the width and scope of the differences. the one constant across the many sources is that kata is a way of transmitting the "feel" of the style. i always use music as a comparison. there are only so many notes on a scale. there are scales that link matching notes together. and yet there are diverse styles of music. blues, rock, country or jazz they all share the same notes. but there is a feel to the music that is undeniablly distinct for each. they are separated by something that cannot be taught through a sheet of paper with lines and dots on it. in the same way each martial art style has a distinct way of moving. you cannot learn this feel by the segments of movement or "notes" but only though the entire composition of a kata.
    one purpose of kata is to teach the feel of the style. without the kata the feel will be lost and the heart of the style will die.
    another facet of kata is to serve as a vehicle to pass on a catalog of technique / waza. without a body of kata the techniques stand by themselves and the catalog is prone to additions and subtractions. over time it would be inevitable that the original catalog would have been replaced.
    even with the advent of kata this area is a real week point for karate. transmissions from teacher to student has been incomplete, meanings have been lost. even complete kata have been lost to time. add to this that most karate is a hodge podge of stuff collected by one individual then mish mashed by the next and karate loses its viability to be a complete unit of coherent progression. the other issue here is American karate. William Chow never taught forms. they were completely fabricated by others over time. these forms were created and designed as a single stand alone unit not a coherent progression. i will not delve into the complexity or depth of these forms, people can make up their own minds on that but if a form was created after only a few years of study it probably does not hold much depth.(or if the form was only created for the sake of giving students more things to learn to keep students longer,,,,which was often the case) i should also mention the fact that Itosu created forms for school children and yet many styles use these forms as a standard to progress to black belt or created re hashed versions of these child focused forms for their own styles.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
    • Like Like x 1
  17. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2015
    Messages:
    3,549
    Likes Received:
    1,966
    Trophy Points:
    403
    Location:
    In the dojo
    Those are the Pinan/Heian kata, depending on pronunciation. They’re a very common series of kata. Allegedly they were developed by (founder of Shotokan) Gichen Funakoshi’s teacher Itosu. He took the kata Kanku/Kusanku apart and simplified them to teach to children and beginners. If that thoery’s correct (there’s compelling evidence that it’s not entirely correct), then you could say the Pinan series is a progression leading to better performance and understanding of Kanku.

    As far as the connection to your forms, a lot of TKD schools do those forms in one way or another. It’s a long held belief that TKD came from Shotokan, so if that’s correct then naturally those kata would make their way into TKD either outright or influentially.

    Kyokushin and it’s offshoots (Seido is an offshoot) come from Shotokan and Goju Ryu, as Mas Oyama trained in both before forming Kyokushin. The rest of the syllabus is pretty much all Goju Ryu kata with one or two others. The Goju kata aren’t connected like the Pinan kata are, but many of them come from Goju’s founder Chojun Miyagi and his teacher Kanryo Higaonna. There’s a progression in difficulty. Look up Sanchin, Gekisai Dai, Tensho, Saiha/Saifa, Seiunchin, etc. And as hoshin said, they’re not a progression per se, but they do get progressively more difficult and complex. It’s only natural to teach the “easiest” ones first.
     
  18. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2013
    Messages:
    1,649
    Likes Received:
    320
    Trophy Points:
    123
    Location:
    Lakewood, WA
    My understanding is that TKD came from Karate (I don't know enough about the Karate lineages to know which one). Well, more specifically, TKD came from Tang Soo Do, which came from Karate. So the Taekwondo of the mid-20th century was largely based on Karate, but has evolved into what it is today.

    So I guess that's kind of along the lines of what Hoshin was saying, that over time the kata change (in the case of Taekwondo, they simply created new katas) and the art evolves.
     
  19. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2013
    Messages:
    1,649
    Likes Received:
    320
    Trophy Points:
    123
    Location:
    Lakewood, WA
    I don't know of any (which is why I asked). But I was thinking there could be a kata that focuses on footwork, one on hand strikes, one on kicks, one on blocking techniques, and one on take-downs and throws.

    Alternatively, there could be a kata focused on defenses against a punch, one on defenses against kicks, defenses against grabs, tactics against multiple opponents, and an aggressive kata.

    As you progress in rank, there could be more advanced versions of those katas, or you could grow your understanding of the details of the kata or other applications of the kata (if your art is open to multiple interpretations of the same move in a kata).

    The reason I made this thread is because I was thinking about how my school's first kata primarily teaches the footwork, and then I got started thinking on how many different ways there are to move. For example, if I am in a front stance with my right foot forward, and I want to turn to the right, I can:
    1. Move my right foot out to the right
    2. Move my right foot across my front and spin left on my left foot
    3. Move my right foot across my back and pivot right on my left foot
    4. Move my left foot out to the left
    5. Move my left foot across my front and pivot right on my right foot
    6. Move my left foot across my back and spin left on my right foot
    Then I was thinking of how I would block with each of those steps, as if someone was throwing a punch from my right, how I would I block, and what would my follow-up technique be?

    There's also so many ways you can move forward, move back, turn when your other foot is forward, and that just got me started on this train of thought.

    I often like to think of how I would do things, i.e. how I would do a curriculum, even if it's not something I'll ever make, it's a fun mental exercise. Most of the time it's how I'd make a video game, but lately it's how I'd do a curriculum if I started from the ground up.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  20. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

    Joined:
    May 16, 2014
    Messages:
    2,604
    Likes Received:
    1,168
    Trophy Points:
    253
    And that my friend has been the crux of the problem for a long time now.
    How many decades of training do you have? How many decades of teaching do you have?
    For yourself it is theoretical. But many people have made those decisions without much experience and those arts exist for better or worse.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1

Share This Page