Karate is kata, kata is karate

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

  1. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    Taeguek Cipher is a very good read. I am not familiar with the other book.
     
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  2. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    I am totally stupefied. You seem to understand that there is a deeper meaning to forms yet choose not to see it or seek it within you system. Something is seriously wrong with that.
     
  3. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Let me repeat the salient part: the Venn Diagram approach works in Karate. It doesn't work in Taekwondo. It doesn't work because everything about TKD forms is about getting more exact, not more generic.
     
  4. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    If that's what you gathered from my post, then I don't even know how to respond. Everything I just quoted is the exact opposite of what I said.

    1. I don't understand there is a deeper meaning in the TKD forms. I've come to the conclusion they are all surface level. I understand that the Karate kata that they are derived from have a deeper meaning. But the poomsae casserole that we got in TKD is not the original dish they served in Japan.
    2. I spent 5 years seeking it. I didn't find it.
    3. In the 5 years of research I did, I've found what I said in #1. Techniques are chosen for aesthetics over function. Techniques are taken out of context of the original forms they are derived from, which were even further obfuscated by the Japanese when teaching the Koreans, and earlier by the Japanese when they made the forms acceptable for children. Whenever I see a Master or a Grandmaster demonstrating a form (including watching videos of the Master's course), all I ever see is how to make that surface level version of the form. I've only ever seen things explored deeper in McDojos and promotional material.
    You say I don't want it. I do. You say I don't seek it. I did. You say I understand there is. I understand there isn't. I wish there was.

    I hope after this post, at least that you understand what I'm saying (whether or not you agree with it). Because your understanding of what I've said so far is completely wrong.
     
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  5. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    If you think my analysis is "whatever I want", then either you don't understand the process or you don't understand what I said.
     
  6. TSDTexan

    TSDTexan Master of Arts

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    I felt your pain for a long, long time.
    I find myself swimming up the river from KMA, to Japanese/Okinawan karate... but I have spent a lot of time criss training in other karate branchs, and even cross training in other arts trying to reach the source.

    One thing I see, is that I have never in the hundreds of Korean masters and grandmasters of tkd that i have met, have ever known any bunhae / bunkai for tauguk, hyung, or pumsae that was anything remotely close to kata and bunkai from jma/oma karate.

    I never got to meet Kim Ki Hwang, who knew Toyama's karatedo. (but even he accepted calling his karate.... tkd...)
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
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  7. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I ordered the first book. The second one was like 7x the price and doesn't relate to the forms I'm learning, so I'll pass on that one.
     
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  8. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    Which form set are you learning?

    Are they completely different to the Chang Hon set or another step of derivatives?

    If you can find something on the CH set it might actually be worth your while - from what I gather (with my limited knowledge of kkw) just about all your techniques are tweaked from the base of CH (later ITF, earlier shotokan mix) and at least the lower colour belt forms look strikingly similar.
     
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  9. wab25

    wab25 Black Belt

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    Well, there is no reason why you can't find the same in TKD. Its there to be found. But, it will take some effort and time... most importantly, it will take a change in mindset. If you approach it with this mindset:
    you won't ever find it. You need to set that conclusion aside, open your mind and look.

    You will have to stop doing this. If you have already decided there is nothing there, it won't matter how much you practice them, you won't find it, because you already concluded that there is nothing there.

    Well, this is a game changer here. You spent 5 years looking... I bet you spent all of that 5 years too. Sure, 5 years is a while to study something. But compared to the time spent by some of the others here, 5 years is not that long. Some of these folks here have spent 5 times or 6 times or 7 times that long studying. In your 5 years, you made it up to san dan. Some of these guys here have been san dan and greater for 4-5 times the total amount of time you have been studying. They say there is more to it than mimicing and copying. This isn't to diminish in any way, the time you have spent studying. But its like comparing a heart surgeon who is just out of his residency with one who has been a heart surgeon for 15 years. Yes, its impressive just to be a heart surgeon. But a heart surgeon with 15 more years of experience and additional learning and study, would know more.

    Look its your training. If you are happy with your conclusion... then be happy with it. But if you really want what "the others are able to get out of the forms..." Then you will have to change the way you are approaching forms. But, its your training, do what makes you happy.

    ps: if you really like what those karate guys get out of kata, and you find beauty in that, why don't you switch and train that? Especially since you feel that TKD watered it all down and removed all the stuff you are looking for. Why do you study an art that doesn't give you what you want?
     
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  10. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    I've only been doing TKD for nearly 4 years and because of time in grade requirements I'm only 1st kup.

    And yet I seem to have obtained far more meaning from the pattern set I study than you have from yours.

    Is that a flaw in your system or a flaw in your ability to interpret?
     
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  11. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Well, since I don't train ITF, anything that says "ITF" is outside the scope of my training. And I'm not buying a $200 book about it.

    What organization do you train under? What is it that you get out of your forms? How have you gotten it?
     
  12. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    It could be inherent in his particular lineage. Maybe that is how they are being taught. Maybe someone upstream in his lineage didn’t understand the forms beyond surface level, so everyone downstream in the lineage is affected in what they are able to learn.
     
  13. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    I don't blame you on the price of the book, I wouldn't buy it either.

    But you're saying again that something is outside the scope of your training, yet you're apparently dissatisfied with said scope.

    Looking outside "what master says" is very likely to be the only way to expand your learning, but while you're unwilling to do that you have no place to complain.

    I've seen you do this before, where you question what a certain move is supposed to be, and go on to dismiss anything that your master hasn't told you.

    This "scope of training" is a self imposed limit.

    I'm ITF.

    What I've got out of my patterns can't really be condensed into a short blurb and I'm not entirely sure I could explain it anyway - but it would appear to be much closer to what these karate people have been saying, which seems to be what you feel is lacking for you.

    As to the how - partly from my instructors, partly from other people in different arts and a whole heap from myself. I refuse to limit myself to the single book explanation of a move and analyse it, along with the before and after.
     
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  14. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    That's entirely possible.

    It's also possible that it's due to being in a line of people trained in large classes like a production line.

    Our largest classes consist of maybe 25 people (and that many is rare). The settings are large enough that we can split up into groups based on grade, and everyone who has a mind to can work with higher grades.

    Even so, those classes feel much more (to me) like a practice session as opposed to an actual learning opportunity - those come with the smaller classes where there's time and space to play and refine.

    The bigger groups necessarily can't go as much in depth, especially when you're in a constant grading cycle - so you end up with surface (or zero) applications and a concentration on getting the performance good enough to grade with.

    We do have to do a certain amount of that too, and much of my learning is done away from the class setting - maybe we're strange in that there's a few like me who like to experiment and share?
     
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  15. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Do you really think the best way for me to learn martial arts is out of a book? Do you think that if I buy this book, it will fix all of the problems that I have with the way forms are trained in my art? If you do, I have a bridge to sell you.

    Who says I'm not looking outside of what my Master says? If you think I am, then you're blind. Because I wouldn't be on this forum if "what Master says" is the only thing I look at.

    And, at that, I respect my Master more than I respect anyone on this forum. I may have some disagreements with the curriculum, but I can't argue with the results I've had. There are some things I want more out of, but those aren't the entire curriculum. There are some things I don't particularly like or see the point of, but over time I'm coming to understand why he does things the way he does. Even after I understand some of those things, some of them I still disagree with, or wish were done different. But I have no plans to leave my Master's teachings just because of these disagreements.

    Then you've been reading those threads wrong. I was asking a specific question, and I was not getting a specific answer. As an analogy, if I were to ask whether I should put regular or premium gas in my car, and I start getting a lecture on the difference between diesel and gasoline, or on why an electric car is better. It doesn't help me figure out which button to select at the pump for my car.

    It's also not about what my Master tells me. It's about the forms themselves, and a lot of it comes from higher up than my Master in the lineage.

    No. The "scope of training" is what I am familiar with and what I am searching for answers on. I don't need a book explaining to me what I'm supposed to get out of forms I've never trained in. I haven't learned the forms, I haven't learned the style, I haven't trained with people day in and day out. You can't learn martial arts from a textbook. They can supplement your knowledge, but they can't create it for you.

    I could write a textbook about our forms, but it isn't going to show you how to move, your timing or breathing. If you're supposed to learn bunkai from it, you have to have another person who actually knows the system to practice against. If you were to take two boxers and have them read a book about wrestling and practice on each other, how much would they learn compared with two boxers who went to a wrestling class and actually practiced against other people?

    "Here's a book, go learn" is not the right response for teaching martial arts. Books are a supplement, they are not a replacement for practice. And practice without instruction and critique, and without a competent partner with which to increase resistance, is going to get you nowhere.

    You're telling me that I can get what I'm looking for by abandoning my Master's teachings and reading a book about forms I've never trained in. That's got to be the biggest headscratcher I've seen on this forum (and that's saying a lot).

    How are forms trained in ITF? Are they as rigidly controlled as in KKW? What do you do in class to draw more out of it than the techniques themselves?

    Can you give me specific examples of how you've applied the forms to sparring? How you would apply them (or have applied them) in a real fight?
     
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  16. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    I'm not saying to abandon what you've learnt and learn from a book instead, I'm saying it's one possible way to supplement what you have.

    And those instances you refer to - you want one single solid explanation of why you're expected to do something in a certain way.

    Well, anyone who isn't you or your instructor is only capable of theorising on that. Oftentimes what you want (above) just doesn't exist.

    A lot of those type of questions I've been asked in class by 4th kup and lower - I'd be extremely surprised to hear it from a 1st Dan, let alone a 4th.

    I don't know if our patterns are as rigidly controlled, but I do know we get updates on things like the angle and position of hands or feet in specific moves in certain patterns - and if those aren't incorporated in competition or grading it does get noticed.

    And the way to draw more out than simply a replication of the single moves is with sparring - so that also should answer how they're applied within sparring too.
     
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  17. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    These are forms that are done world-wide by hundreds of thousands of people. More people than just my Master know them. The specific techniques I've been asking about have been in forms in several arts and styles created in different countries. These techniques are done by millions of people.

    How do your forms help you with sparring? What is it about your forms that has made you better at sparring, than if you had not done forms? What concepts have you used in sparring and thought "oh, that was like in Form #3", or when have you been in a sparring situation and thought "I should use this from Form #2"?

    Right now it just sounds like you're trying to convince yourself you get more from the forms than you actually do. Because you can't even give me a specific example of how it's worked. Just a general, used-car-salesman pitch about how they do, because (buzz word) sparring!
     
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  18. wab25

    wab25 Black Belt

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    Here is the really cool part about forms / kata. So long as they are copied correctly, all those deeper meanings and applications and principles remain... whether the person doing or teaching the form knows they are there or not.

    I used to have a pretty decent o'soto gari (outer reaping throw). When I started taking karate, the first class they started teaching me to walk forward and backward in front stance. (the c-step and everything) These steps show up in the different kata quite a bit. As it turns out, if you take the first half of a forward step in front stance, then step back into front stance, you are doing one of the variations of o'soto gari. My o'soto gari got better. Over time, as I do more kata, I am getting better at making different entrances to o'soto gari... basically every time you step forward into front stance, can be seen as an entrance into o'soto gari... whether you are going forward, or turning. With the kata, concentrating on me keeping a low stance, and taking the c-step into forward stance... my karate sensei was able to greatly improve my o'soto gari... even though he didn't "know" that version of o'soto gari. My sensei asked me to share a little jujitsu with the class... I showed them this version of o'soto gari and showed how they had been practicing it since day one, in karate. They got it so well, I sometimes teach my jujitsu guys the karate front stance before doing o'soto gari. After that first demo in karate, my sensei said "now I know why you smile when we practice Taikyoku Shodan."

    So even though your lineage may have watered things down to "just copy," doesn't mean all hope is lost. If they copied right... its still there, but may take more work by the student to find. When I teach Jujitsu, I teach kata exactly as my sensei taught me, because I don't believe I know enough about the kata, to make sure I don't drop something out just because I have not yet found it. I may teach other variations of the kata, as variations, or more applicable in certain situations... But since I keep finding new things in my very first jujitsu kata (katate tori hazushi), even after 25 years of study... I don't think I am ready to change it. But I can show you a bunch of things I found in it, and a bunch of cool variations. Hopefully my students will one day fill in the gaps I missed... and then help me to find them as well.
     
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  19. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    To clarify - the form to get 4th dan. I'm a 3rd dan. (Although I think at other schools this is the form learned at 4th dan).

    To also clarify - I'm not looking for just the "what is X". I'm looking for the analysis of when to use X over Y. A great example of how this discussion fell apart is in my thread about the double-knife-hand block. I was primarily looking at the off-hand, why we use that particular finishing position (palm-up, next to solar plexus). People kept fixating on the main hand - the knife hand block. I was trying to figure out the reason for the off-hand positioning after that motion. Why not palm down? Why not a regular knife-hand block with the other hand chambered?

    The bolded parts above are the questions I was asking. People kept harping on other things (which is why I dismissed them). And nobody in that thread could give me an answer about the question I was actually asking. One person said he knew but wouldn't tell me, everyone else was just trying to draw approximations. I was asking why a specific detail was in place, and nobody could answer that specific question. (Going back to my Regular vs. Premium gas analogy above).
     
  20. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    Ok, you want the "talking to a 5 year old" version.

    I apologise, I didn't realise...

    Ok, so...

    I could have accomplished all of it without patterns practice, but it would have been a different training methodology, so it is what it is.

    Here's one specific:

    An opponent threw a rear leg high turning kick - I stepped in to reduce momentum, blocked with a high outer forearm and countered with a reverse punch. Moves 1 and 2 from do-san.
     
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