Kata and Football

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by isshinryuronin, Aug 9, 2020.

  1. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Black Belt

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    Regarding seeing kata as an impractical, rigid sequence of moves, let's look at football. While in kata one person does many moves, in football many players are doing 2 or 3 moves each in a given play. In practice, the coach drills them over and over on who each blocker is to engage, the pattern the receivers are to run, how the zone is to be cleared of defenders, where the running back should position himself, etc.

    The coach demands the play is run exactly as he designed it. It is a template, just like a kata is. Strict adherence to how the play is to be run is required and is drilled over and over (like a kata) There is a reason and purpose for each player's moves (kata bunkai). But after the ball is snapped in a game (actual combat) things may change due to unforeseen moves by the defense. Does this mean all the drilling on how to run the play was worthless?

    There are options that can be employed in such cases. The quarterback can pitch the ball to his back, throw to an alternate receiver, or take off and scramble (alternate bunkai). But this won't work if the players are not in the positions they drilled in practice. Adherence to, and understanding the template allows the options to go off the template. (I guess this line sums up the main point to this post.)

    I think this is what Itosu Anko meant over a century ago when he said to "Perform kata exactly; actual combat is another matter." It seems to me that in this regard, kata and football are similar. Really knowing the kata gives you the tools to go off it and adapt it to actual combat.

     
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  2. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Yeah. It is bunkai that goes stupid mostly.
     
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  3. dvcochran

    dvcochran Grandmaster

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    Nailed it.
     
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  4. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    There are two issues that I have with this comparison.

    1. Most kata are not performed as they would be done in a fight, where football plays are drilled as they would be used in the game. Most kata have the pacing thrown off for how those techniques would be used in a real fight, in the way stances largely substitute for footwork. Most kata have techniques that are done in more aesthetic versions than in reality, while football players tend to drill practical fundamentals every time they run a route.
    2. Kata don't seem to teach strategy, in my opinion, while the football plays are all about strategy. A flood route is meant to overwhelm a zone defense. Verticals stretch the safeties to create plays underneath. The quarterback has specific read progressions to go through; primary, secondary, and tertiary wide receivers. Strict adherence is about your defense being in the proper place, where strict adherence to the kata will often lead to negative results. If the 2 wide receivers that are supposed to go deep decide to run curl or hitch routes instead, suddenly the safeties are close and the play won't work as designed. If you follow kata strictly, then there are actually a lot of openings to attack you, because kata are generally not designed with a proper guard in mind.
     
  5. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Black Belt

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    I never claimed my comparison was perfect, but I hope the novelty of it made up for it.;)

    I think you're right that kata does not seem to have much strategy in it. But don't forget, the kata is made up of several short, tactical encounters (more like a one-on-one between the offensive and defensive linemen in football.) So while my comparison is not perfect, the similarities are there. Also, much of strategy, tactics and other concepts were taught orally, directly from master to student (kuden) so did not get into kata, or were very well disguised to outsiders, as most katas were created when karate was still taught in secret.

    In the scenario you describe at the end of your post, you are correct in that all breaks down in real encounters. In such times, you do NOT follow the kata strictly, as I tried to stress in my post. To quote it, "...understanding the template allows you to go OFF the template." (sort of a zen contradiction, but IMO true)
     
  6. Buka

    Buka Sr. Grandmaster

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    I thought that was pretty damn good.
     
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  7. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    All the 2 men form contain strategy.


     
  8. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I’ve met some that didn’t seem to. But you’re right (by implication) that they should.
     
  9. donald1

    donald1 Senior Master

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    What is this man's spear made of? Metal? I'd assume a guan dao could slice through that spear at 0:13
     
  10. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I’ve never liked two-man forms, they always seemed more like performance to me than actual quality training.

    Drilled combinations with a partner are great. But a lengthy form just becomes choreography and loses the quality in technique. It actually can become about NOT being successful with your technique because the lengthy choreography demands it in order to complete the whole thing. If someone’s technique were actually successful in the middle of the form, the form would end at that point.
     
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  11. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I would assume the spear shaft is waxwood because that is commonly the case. But a spear shaft could be a hardwood or bamboo or rattan, depending on what might be available in a region.

    I think your comment is on target with my previous post, that two-man forms become about NOT being successful. It is clear that none of the techniques being executed by either participant are done with any real commitment; power is held back in anticipation of the next bit of the choreography. Whether or not the guan dao (looks more like a horse cutter with a longer handle to me, but could be a guan-dao variant) would/should have cut through the spear shaft is open to debate, but what is clear is that the fellow delivered the attack with very little power and immediately pulled back. A real Guan-dao is a heavy chopping-slicing weapon. A real attack would have swept down with great power and would have been very disruptive of the spearman’s structure and ability to respond even if it did not cut the spear shaft, had the fellow blocked in that manner. I think these two-man forms are not so beneficial.

    I’ll also note that the spearman’s technique was all arm-driven with his thrusting attacks, he had completely lost any semblance of power from the legs and torso. These two-man choreography exercises tend to encourage sloppy technique because of the performance qualities, people are more concerned with speed and fluidity and looking good. Technical quality suffers tremendously.123
     
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