Discussion in 'Karate' started by Kong Soo Do, Mar 11, 2015.
Is this trolling?
Were you gone?
As in people who do not understand something but think they know more than the experts, never admit when they are wrong and try to hammer in the same flawed points that have already been repeatedly refuted?
That system has always been flawed.
I am sure you mean the theory of evolution by natural selection, which is not a cult.
The Taikyoku kata are no longer part of the official JKA syllabus I think. Many schools still teach them, of course, but especially in Japan and the U S, commonly, Heian Shodan will be the first kata learned in shotokan. I believe that the viewpoint of many is that the Taikyoku kata are really about acquainting the student with the idea, the concept of what a kata is, rather than actually being a genuine kata with a sense of some underlying bunkai. Also, as noted by others, Itosu Sensei, an Okinawan, created the Heian (Pinan) kata specifically to be taught in the schools on Okinawan to larger groups of school children. Although they obviously have martial arts value, and we all look to them for bunkai, they were designed for schoolchildren. Legend says Itosu created them from an older kata, now lost, possibly called Channan or Chai Nang. Like so many stories about the origins, who really knows now?
So, the Taikyoku kata, probably based on the Heian kata, which were probably based on some now unknown kata...etc. Anyway, because the Taikyoku kata are so repetitious (in technique) and so similar to other kata, many instructors no longer use them, and at least the JKA no longer requires knowledge of them for promotion. K Man doesn't. I don't either. But if someone else wants to, that's cool. If you have a choice yourself, try moving up to the Heian kata, which are far more nuanced, with weight shifts, multiple possibilities of technique, etc. Plus they're not nearly so boring to perform. : < )
Back to the OP: Here's 2 videos of Heian Godan, one of my favorite basic forms to teach. The first looks like a group of high school age students doing a team form, then doing it again with applications, and typically since it's competition, somewhat fancifully. But I used to teach a similar application with lots of foot sweeps to brown belts, to get them thinking. Of note in both videos is the high X block, which can be a very effective real world technique.
The second is a seminar - in German which I don't speak - shorter and more practical, since the instructor shows both right and left hand blocks. Wish I understood the commentary.
@ drop bear
...But it is a pretty difficult concept to get across...[/QUOTE]
I have been away from these boards for a time, and I've obviously missed some previous difference of opinion. But...
Some people train in kata because they're into that whole tradition thing, kihon, kata, kumite.
Others do kata because it's all part of the spiritual experience. Maybe this is the same thing.
I personally feel kata exist on their own as an art form.
I find doing kata a very physically satisfying exercise, and it relieves stress.
I think it definitely improves my karate, my balance and speed, my basic technique.
I also think that there are definite apllications for real world fighting inherent in some kata, maybe most or all (traditional) kata. I think there are also some moves and techniques that are just present in the kata for aesthetics or for show, and which have zero application no matter how hard one might strain to find one. I think both of these assumptions are patently obvious on their face. Some of these nonfunctional techniques may have had a real application at one point, but whatever it was, it's gone now into history, like some of those old kata.
There are obviously some martial artists (and systems) who thrive without resorting to kata. Fine. There are just as obviously martial artists who rely upon kata and preach reliance upon kata, who are no one to have a harsh word with.
Plenty of room for both opinions, and if you feel kata are meaningless, that does not diminish my views. My views on kata shouldn't offend you either.
So, do you see any value in any kata training?
The first video I thought was well performed and traditional. I agree that the applications were a bit fanciful.
The second video didn't appeal to me at all. To me bunkai is the real application against a realistic attack. Attacks don't happen like that and you don't defend like that. If he was teaching kihon like that, ok, but I would have thought a seminar would be exploring more realistic options.
Here is a Goju bunkai from Iain Abernethy that shows what I like to see.
Re: 2nd video, first thing that struck me was that you're right, you don't normally expect a full stepping punch attack like that, so the attack was unrealistic and everything that followed was a little strained as a result. But in at least some of his examples, the instructor moved to the outside of the attack, blocking outside to inside, which I like, taking away the off-hand and countering to the opponent's back side, shifting weight for the block and counter. It would have worked with a jab or even a clumsy roundhouse drunk-punch I think. So that part was OK.
Re: Abernathy, generally, I know he is teaching to a specific kata, so trying to stay within the moves, but again, just generally, he moves & changes his hands more than I would be comfortable doing. It's just too complicated for me, re-arranging the grip like that so much. I'm sure he's very good at it, but it would, say, require a high level of practice to maintain effectiveness. I would be better with more simple and direct. From the video, I liked the initial block and backhand strike, but then the next two moves were too much movement for me, say, when he shuffled his feet to change stance. I'd feel more comfortable just dropping back and letting fly. Then the spinning arm bar toward the end was really good. I liked that with the bad guy ending on his knees. Perfect. And he didn't grab, so the drop would work even if the opponent wasn't nice enough to wear a gi for you.
Don't misunderstand. No doubt Abernathy could box my ears and teach me a lot. I'd love to do one his seminars. But by training and experience, I'm better with block and strike, move in and out of range maybe, but nothing too complicated and definitely no grabbing and holding until I feel I'm already pretty much in control of things. Personal preference maybe.
I have only just come across Iain's Shisochin bunkai. I have trained a similar one with Masaji Taira. Taira's doesn't contain the extra arm move but I really like Iain's interpretation, especially the elbow to the face after the elbow break. The next move if that fails is the Teisho to the face which with the step through is a take down.
Yes, it's late for me. I understand and agree with the thrust of all what you say. Nonetheless, the principles in Taikyoku are not school children level, IMO. The mistake you make, in my mind, is in saying that technique trumps foundation. How much you want to invest in the Taikyoku foundation is a judgment call. I concur that the Heian kata teach the same principles with less similar repetition, better technical excellence.
The reason I can outfight my opponent's, however, is the Taikyoku kata. Mind & body union.... Any karateka can do the same through the Heian series, etc. The real question, IMO, is are you doing the kata the way Gichin Funakoshi sought? Any of your kata?
I don't know if you can travel to them but Iain has two seminars in the US this year. One is in Chicago 1-3 May the other is in Connecticut 17,18,19th July.
We use the Pinan katas in Wado Ryu and we do them the way Ohtsuka Sensei taught them, we are lucky in that we have videos of the founder doing the katas.
I wish you well on your quest....
Wado is Iain Abernethy's original style though now he works on Bunkai for all katas, many are similar enough anyway.
The problem some seem to have with Wado is the JJ content that is there, not karateka I hasten to add but many who feel there is no grappling or ground work in karate, that it has to have been brought in as cross training rather than being in karate in it's own right.
I teach Okinawan Goju. When I was with the Goju Kai we had Taikyoku kata but it was nothing like Funakoshi's, apart from the embusen. Our kata are totally different to Shotokan.
Flying Crane, I'm sorry, my curiosity makes me ask you why you 'disagreed' with my post here? I can't see anything to disagree with, I train Wado Ryu, we do the Pinan katas and Ohtsuka Sensei was videoed doing the katas. Do you not think we should think ourselves lucky we have the videos? I don't mind being disagreed with but just can't see why here.
I can readily see your point. In my mind, I am deferring to Gichin Funakoshi and his mentors, his Okinawan comrades.
This is good evidence of classical similarities across all traditional karate kata.
Yes, the different sources is a concern of mine as well. Yet, are we qualified enough to criticize the founder of Wado-Ryu?
Taking the opposite view, the Wado-Ryu founder actively sought to bolster & round out the Wado-Ryu karate style by addressing the move away from the grappling more prevalent in Okinawan and early-on Shotokan. It's really an intelligent way to address that tactical weakness inherent among the Japanese karate styles, the original MMA concept from a cross training perspective, just as you say.
I was just having a conversation with Matt Bryers over @ the "What Paul Vunak Said About BJJ" T. The Wado-Ryu founder exactly targeted what Matt B. was talking about--by combining Japanese karate (Shotokan-like?) karate with Japanese JuJitsu. Again, it's why it's also wise not to overgeneralize when speaking about karate styles, they are so diverse....
There is a story from maybe Kanazawa, possibly apocryphal, about a converation he had with Funakoshi when the master was an older man. Kanazawa had learned a kata from his original instructor, one of Funakoshi's original students. Now, as a student of Funakoshi himself, Kanazawa was learning the same kata from Funakoshi, and he asked Funakoshi why the kata was different from the version he had learned from his first instructor. Funakoshi told him (I'm paraphrasing) "When I taught your instructor, I was a young man, and I did the kata as a young man was able. Now I am old, and perform the kata as old men will. Why does this surprise you?" Get it? Sometimes we are incorporating into kata idiosyncracies which are not really part of the kata, but which are from the instructor. How do any of us know, really, which is true in the version we learn, since none of us were there when the masters came up with these kata? Remember, too, that at a certain level, dan students are charged to make kata their own, to make the form fit the person. That doesn't mean to change the steps or techniques, of course, but you see, the feeling I have of a form may be entirely different from the way another senior does the same form, even if we do exactly the same sequence of techniques.
There are existing some very old videos of Funakoshi doing Tekki. They're on You Tube, so take a look. It doesn't look all that much like I would expect a black belt to perform it today, but Funakoshi was in his 80's I think when the video was made, plus many of the kata we perform today in shotokan are really the product of Funakoshi's eldest son Gigo, and of Nakayama Sensei, at least in the detail of step and technique.
Don't let anyone kid you. Kata are evolving, and they should.
Back to the Taikyoku kata: they are something of a Frakenstein creation, not quite basics, and not quite real kata in that they do not contain subtle and sequential Bunkai. If they help you, then very good. But you should concentrate on more advanced kata as soon as you feel comfortable, because the Heian kata each teach you something different, progressions, weight shifts, etc. They are far better in teaching you karate. Just my opinion, and not everyone agrees with me.
Kanazawa probably the foremost authority on Shotokan karate living at this time-IMHO. Came up through JKA, I believe.123
Separate names with a comma.