I find kata to be very important as learning self-defense because kata gives you a good work out when performing it full out and gives you good benefits. Kata training also gives you body memory and muscle memory along with timing, coordination, balance and pace. Kata training is used to record moves from the Acts of Physical Violence. Being able to learn various analysis of the moves can make sense of way you doing this move and that move. IMO, it is more convenient for a student to learn various analysis/applications from random templates as much as possible before learning the first kata. That's what I do when I teach a new student Karate.