Karate is kata, kata is karate

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Bill Mattocks, Sep 17, 2019.

  1. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    I understand what you are saying but I believe Forms existed before this.change. I look at everything else that has forms but no Chinese emperor. I think it's just a natural part of learning. You take a technique and break it down. You train that technique individually without the concept of winning but the focus of improving being good with the technique.

    Forms are nothing but techniques chained together. Instead of doing one at a time you do a set of them. The issue with forms and kata in general is that they are no longer done from the perspective of learning how to fight, or learning how to use the techniques in a fight. Because of this forms take on a performance feel and lose the fighting function. Application is rarely train within a sparring setting. Most application of technique is almost always trained for demo purposes.

    If a person wants to use the techniques to fight with then forms practice is only part of the training that is required.

    This by itself will not make you a good basketball player. You still have to learn how to apply these skill sets in an actual game be it practice (like sparring) or a real game (like fighting). If this guy wants to be a basketball performer the these drills are fine, but he'll lack the application skills needed to play a competitive basketball game. Now will this guy be better or worst in an actual game than someone else who doesn't do these but plays basketball.


    I think of martial arts in the same way. A person can train the techniques and skills all day long, but will fall short if application training in sparring or competition is isn't done.
     
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  2. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Karate is Kumite, Kumite is Karate.

    So there. :)
     
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  3. Yokozuna514

    Yokozuna514 Purple Belt

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    I've been following this post with some interest but until have refrained from contributing as I perhaps did not have the words to properly convey how I felt about the subject. This past weekend, I had an opportunity to meet and train with Hanshi Oishi Daigo who is a legend in Kyokushin Karate. He is 69 and as I watched him perform Yantsu and then proceed to do a board breaking performance it struck me that I hope that when I am his age and no longer able to practice kumite as I currently enjoy, there is no reason for me to stop training and continuing to improve other aspects of my karate. His accomplishments in Kyokushin are not any lessened now that he is not practicing kumite (knockdown does favour the young) but his mind is sharp and his ability to follow his passion is as keen as when I watched him in the documentary of the first Kyokushin World Tournament. Kata is certainly part of karate and karate is certainly part of kata. The degree, I suppose, is up to the individual and the importance that the put towards it. If we focus solely on the aspect of kumite, we are only looking at one aspect of karate. Is that good or bad ? Depends on your what your goals are and what you want to accomplish with your karate.
     
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  4. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Green Belt

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    That is exactly the issue with forms today, though a little less than yesterday. Kata was derived from fighting combos, then evolved into performance. In many cases, the original intent of the moves has been totally lost. There is now movement to get back to the practical application of kata technique.

    We are rediscovering the real meaning of the kata's moves. More than that, we need to work with a partner and see what really works with actual resistance (the way it was originally done) within the scope of the kata's movements (without getting carried away and changing the kata, itself.)

    Try using the individual strings of techniques in freestyle kumite? I've tried it with several kata parts - fun, very challenging and only sometimes effective. Maybe I haven't done enough, or harder, partner drills to make them truly effective. Still, worth doing. The problem is Karate wasn't developed to use against other karate-ka, and current street fighters are more educated today. That doesn't mean kata has no value in fighting. There are lessons and skills, and yes, some techniques, that are applicable to kumite and street fighting.

    There are some things kata cannot do, but I think, overall, they have a lot to offer above and beyond the traditional and historical link to the past.
     
  5. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    We always did that as well, higher ranks working with everyone.

    Why patterns of movement never helped us was because I never had two students that moved the same way, or had the same characteristics and/or techniques that benefited them in the same way.
     
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  6. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    So, if you don't use kata/patterns/poomse, whatever --- put a name on it -- what do you "do" when you get a group of... say more than 10 going at the same time?
     
  7. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Well, when I would run a session in capoeira, we would create short sequences on the spot. None of them were standardized, although we might use the same one at different times. Sometimes it was just a single technique, sometimes it was a sequence of several. The reasoning was to not get fixed into a pattern, and be spontaneous. Creativity was the point. Everyone would line up and work the sequence together.

    Conversely, in my kung Fu class we often don’t all work the same form at the same time. Different people work on their stuff, sometimes alone, sometimes with a classmate. Sometimes just basics, but even when working on forms, people often are doing different ones at the same time. Sifu walks around and makes corrections as he sees fit.
     
  8. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Forgive the long winded answer, but, hey, you asked!

    I'm used to good size groups, we usually had between fifteen to twenty five people in class, which makes it more fun for everyone. I always found that the larger the class the more pumped up they got.

    Class.jpg
    Pictured above is the class before it actually starts. As soon as the cry of "Line up!' is heard they would snap to a formal ready stance.

    After the traditional protocol of bowing in we would warm up with footwork and shadow boxing/shadow kicking to loud music. I first encountered that at a friend's Kenpo school back in the seventies. I couldn't believe how much fun everyone had, myself included. Once a sweat was worked up we'd have formal stretching, pushups, sit ups, chin ups etc. We would do them fast, hard and in great numbers. Everyone knew coming in that if you didn't want to work hard this place was not for you. That's why it was mandatory to watch at least two classes before you were allowed to sign up.

    After that is when class really started as far as I was concerned. We'd drill up and down the floor for a few minutes, then get to work. Maybe we would work on side kicks. All kinds of side kicks. I'd break the students into small groups. Some would be on bags - we had fifteen heavy bags, one of which was on an elevator cable strung through the I-beams above so you could kick it and drive it across the floor - some would be on shields, some in front of the mirrored wall, some on each other. Beginners, or what I considered beginners, would be working on the form of the kick itself, black belts helping and encouraging them. Encouragement is important. Honest encouragement, not left handed token BS. And deep down everybody knows the difference.

    Then we would work on blocking, jamming or evading the side kick. Then on the differences of applying the sidekick to various size people, to various kinds of fighters. Every couple months I'd have the class go put on their street clothes. So they could see how their sidekick might be affected by what they wear. And they'd do sidekicks, shoes on, to the bags, the air, the kicking shields etc.

    Then we would work the various sidekicks in combinations with punches, kicks, footwork and on and on.

    And when I say sidekick, I mean every form of sidekick. Defensive sidekicks, step up and slide sidekicks, cross over sidekicks, fall away sidekicks, jump sidekicks, drop sidekicks, etc. The only side kick we never trained was a quarter turn, back leg sidekick. Because the only person you could ever hit with that kick is your grandmother. And it's not nice to kick your grandmother. :)

    Now think about how many kinds of kicks there are in the Arts, and the variations of all the kicks. I did this with all of them. It's amazing any of us learn anything, there's just so much to do in training Martial Arts. And so little time.

    Sometimes we'd do slow motion side kicks - for balance, for muscular strength, for working on keeping your guard up. It's real easy keeping your guard up when you're kicking fast, not so easy kicking slow.

    Sometimes we would work extreme short motion movement. Like throwing a technique with very little room to move. We'd explore where the power would come from, how to utilize the body from the inside rather than from the outside. Kicking in close is not easy, it takes a lot of practice and hard work. My teachers spent a lot of time with me on this, I, in turn, passed it on.

    Sometimes, I'd work the class into a lather, then have them sit and stretch as I taught them Martial History. At least as I knew it. And I'd teach them the history of American Karate. They all told me they loved those classes. Sometimes I'd teach them about Bushido and what it means....and what it should mean to them. Rectitude, Courage, Benevolence, Politeness, Sincerity, Honor, Loyalty, and Self-control.
    I find there's less talk of these things in dojos these days and that saddens me greatly.

    Many times I'd have guest instructors come down and have them teach a class from their style. The students loved this as well. Sometimes I'd have various EMTs down and they would teach about injury, preventing injury, immobilizing injury ect. Man, all the guys loved that. And so did the parents of the young students. I'd let them take the class, too. They took copious notes.

    Sometimes we'd spend the batter part of a week working on the differences between a jab and a backfist, and of course, how to use them. Sometimes we would go over how to get a workout in at home, especially if you were limited in time and with space. I could write a book about that.

    Sometimes we would spend the better part of the week working on various footworks. I never taught one particular kind of footwork, I find that everyone makes their own. And it's real easy to see if it works well, just try it fighting.

    Sometimes when sparring was going on, I'd sit against the wall with a handful of mid range belts and we’d watch the sparring. We'd discuss reading the body, reading the stance. "See what so and so is doing? What's he setting up? Now watch what he does when he fights so and so? See the difference?" It was always great when you would see the light go on over their heads. It helped making them into better Martial Artists and better fighters. I'd ask them, "So, if you were to go up there right now against so and so, what would you try to do? What would you try to take advantage of with your particular skill set as it stands right now?

    Sometimes we would discuss psychology and how it applies to Martial Arts. I took several years of psychology classes in college, enjoyed all of them.

    Sometimes we would explore the subtle differences of how they kicked a bag, a shield, focus mitts, the air and how they kicked people. A lot of folks think they throw the kick or punch the exact same way in all of these circumstances, but I beg to differ.

    We were in New England, which has cold winters. Sometimes, in the middle of class we would go outside into the parking lot and train hard for ten minutes in the slush and falling snow. I'd have them put on their shoes because of rocks and broken glass. And, yes, I was well aware of the dangers of training outside in these winter conditions. My students are my responsibility and I always took that responsibility very seriously.

    Sometimes we would work on not getting emotionally invested in any drama surrounding us. We would learn how to "not take the bait". This is extremely important to diffuse situations and avoid conflict/fights. We'd discuss recognizing our own moods, and how your mood might allow a quicker flash point of emotion.

    We did a lot of work on breathing techniques.

    Then, in nineteen ninety one, I started training with Rickson. But he wasn't teaching us BJJ per se, he was teaching us how to apply what we did in a grappling situation, which is different. It would be another four years before I trained in a BJJ school, a Rickson school.

    So, at that point in 91, we had a ton of more stuff to work on. Swell. Again, not enough hours in the day or years in a lifetime. But it sure was fun and my students were all the better for it.

    And then there was sparring and kickboxing and boxing and grappling and self defense drills against resistance and knife work and weapons disarms. As for the weapons disarms, every couple years we would have the Boston P.D. Range Master come down and teach a couple of three hour classes on gun safety.
    The following week we would all go to the range and they would learn to shoot. I am of the opinion that if you're going to teach weapon disarms you need to know as much about that particular weapon as possible. And not me just telling you. I paid the Range Master, but didn't charge the students, it was just part of their curriculum.

    So anyway, that's some of the stuff we would do. There's a lot more, a hell of a lot more, but I have to get my lazy butt to the gym now. :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2019
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  9. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Man, I want to go back and join that school. Sounds like an exhausting lot of fun and learning. You rock.
     
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  10. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Master of Arts

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    Wow Buka, I would so love those classes!

    You've got me all hyped now, am gonna do some of that in my home session later today ;)
     
  11. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    Buka, you're right... I asked! Ha! Good stuff, though I didn't want to "quote" it so everyone would have to read it all again or scrollscrollscroll.

    From my aikido background, I can tell you that, from Our perspective, you were doing all different kinds of kata, but that's another topic, almost entire. Same goes for Michael's post, above as well. Good stuff there too... except you lose the long-windedness award to our usually taciturn Buka. I think his doc changed his meds or something....

    And... "lazy" my ***.
     
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