Muay Thai View of Kata

Discussion in 'Muay Thai' started by Independent_TKD, Sep 12, 2007.

  1. Independent_TKD

    Independent_TKD Yellow Belt

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    Unlike muay thai, traditional martial arts spend a lot of time practicing forms and kata.

    Strictly from the standpoint of a muay thai practitioner, how do you view the practice of forms, katas, etc.?

    I will admit that I quite like the absence of forms practice from my muay thai sessions. I like the added time I can devote to developing realtime skills.
     
  2. mini_dez

    mini_dez Yellow Belt

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    I'd say that with all the shadow boxing we do (at my gym anyway) we're not too far off the same idea as Kata. OK, it's not a set pattern but it's still done by yourself, as slowly as needs be to learn the techniques properly. As you improve you add more advanced techniques.
    I do like the absence of it from Muay Thai, I must admit it's one of the reasons I chose to take up Muay Thai. I'd much rather use the padwork or a heavy bag. I still find myself shadow boxing a lot- to warm up before I train or in the house where I have no room for a bag and just have a mirror.
    I guess what I'm trying to say is that time on kata/forms is still time developing "realtime skills". Without the balance, posture etc. that you learn from repeating techniques over and over, you may as well just be swinging wildly.
     
  3. Kennedy_Shogen_Ryu

    Kennedy_Shogen_Ryu Blue Belt

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    I'm a traditional Karate man myself, so I will do my best to keep my answer as unbiased as possible.
    Basics are the foundation of almost any (if not all martial arts.) And as my one instructor once told me you have to practice a technique not a hundred but thousands of times before your body 'knows' the technique to the point where it can perform it automatically to place the technique where it needs to go etc.
    Kata is a practice of basics, repeating them over and over again, starting with basic techniques and then as you get into more advanced katas, obviously more advanced techniques.
    Now, practicing the kata is absolutely no good if you don't use the moves your learning need to be polished either with the heavy bag and with sparring.
    So, katas are great, and they work as practice tools but for more 'practical' training you need to get out there and spar!
     
  4. Kennedy_Shogen_Ryu

    Kennedy_Shogen_Ryu Blue Belt

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    Sorry my bad, I should have added in my last post that I do spend some time training with a few guys doing Muay Thai a couple times a week!
     
  5. Thunder Foot

    Thunder Foot Purple Belt

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    I see kata, and shadowboxing as being close to the same. In my opinion, they would be.... the only importance being if you practice with "aliveness". Of course, back when I practice Kata, I always broke them down into smaller movements, but that would be no different than throwing a combination, depending on the style mentioned.

    If we are talking about the artistic qualities of Kata, then I would say its closely related to Ram Muay of Muay Thai. All in all, I still see the same characteristics of a traditional art in Muay, but thats just me. :)
     
  6. Odin

    Odin 2nd Black Belt

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    shadow boxing is the kata of muay thai it serves the same purpose
     
  7. meth18au

    meth18au Blue Belt

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    Yeah, it does serve the same purpose. But like my Kru always says, use your mind. Shadowboxing is not a set routine. Beginners in our gym, follow instruction when they first start shadowboxing. Until they get used to the moves and learn how to 'think' for themselves. I used to do forms in Kung Fu. I understand it was to learn the moves, but always in the same sequence. For me, it was not good.

    Shadowboxing just feels a little more natural to me, gets my techniques flowing and mind working. I wonder if it would work, traditional arts doing shadowboxing, instead of kata? Stringing together techniques in combination themselves, no set routine. Any traditional MA'tists come across this?
     
  8. DavidCC

    DavidCC Master of Arts

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    I was watching the Human Weapon MT episode, they wwre at an Police Training facility where they trained some version of MT. And there was some guy, doing kata, demo'ing for the guests.

    What was that?
     
  9. Independent_TKD

    Independent_TKD Yellow Belt

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    Shadow boxing is very important in muay thai. However, I don't see forms practice as similar to shadow boxing. For the traditional martial arts like TKD, karate, etc, a shadow boxing-like activity would be the standing facing the mirror, throwing kicking and punching techniques in various unchorographed ways. This is useful.

    Take the traditional long stance used in MA forms where the punch is executed from the side of the hip. This isn't practiced in muay thai because no one really fights like this. If you are being attacked in real life or are in a sporting competition, you will never realistically be in this position.

    A better activity would be to learn proper footwork while parrying punches. I just don't see forms as being as useful as many people claim, IMHO. This has been one of the major reason I chose to study muay thai as a striking art.
     
  10. fightstuff

    fightstuff Yellow Belt

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    I thought I would have my say on this one. My background is 15 years MT, 3 TKD and 1 year ju jistu. You cant really compare a Kata to shadow boxing. Katas are a set movement and often tell a story this is comparable to MT's Ram Muay. Shadow boxing is more to warm your body up and to keep the mind following with techniques. If you start repeating the same combos when shadow boxing this means you have run out of ideas.

    Just coming back to the Ram Muay. The Ram Muay is an integral part of MT and if you do not practice it then you might as well go and do kick boxing. The Ram Muay serves 4 main purposes: (1) Pay respect to your Master or Instructor, (2) Warm up the Body and Mind, (3) to survey your surroundings (in the old days they wouldn't fight in a nice boxing ring and would often have rocks and holes under the canvas and branches over hanging the ring.) and (4) to find an escape route (villagers used to fight for terrority in the old days and after winning the fight they would have to run away and come back later to claim the land).

    Independent_TKD
    This is quite an offensive statement to make. You are implying that MT is lacking a fundamental part that makes up a martial art. To make a generalisation that Muay Thai practioneers do not spend a lot of time of practicing the Ram Muay is wrong. When I teach I always begin and finish with a Ram Muay Thai. I have done TKD and when I was there we hardly did any forms, so it really depends on the teacher and not the martial art.
     
  11. Independent_TKD

    Independent_TKD Yellow Belt

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    From my experiences, this is true. I am sorry you view the statement as offensive, but this is what I have seen.
     
  12. fightstuff

    fightstuff Yellow Belt

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    Do you practice the Ram Muay?
     
  13. Independent_TKD

    Independent_TKD Yellow Belt

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    If you mean the pre-fight dance, no I do not practice it. It is not part of our training at the muay thai gym where I practice. And this gym is very good with a great reputation and has produced several very good fighters.

    I'll just end my comments to this thread by saying I think kata and forms are overrated. If you want to learn balance, precision, concentration, accuracy, and technique there are so many more productive ways of doing it. I know I am not going to change anybody's mind. This is just my opinion. I might have some allies in the Jeek Kune Do camp on this one, however.

    Let's agree to disagree. Peace.
     
  14. fightstuff

    fightstuff Yellow Belt

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    I do understand where you are coming from. However what I will say if you do not practice the Ram Muay then you are not doing MT. You are doing a variation of Kick Boxing. Muay Thai is an art and if you want to call yourself a MT practioneer then all aspects of MT should be practiced including the Ram Muay. Reputation and good fighters does not mean you can call yourself a MT gym, even though the style may look like MT. It's not unless you do all the aspects associated with MT. I am fed up with people claiming they do MT when they do not do one of the most important aspects of MT, which is the Ram Muay.

    In the old days you would have to pay respect to your Master with regard to the Ram Muay even before you are allowed to train. However MT has become commericialised and people are jumping on the bandwagan and want to claim they are doing MT because it popular. Independent_TKD this is not directed entirely at you. However I have seen so many people claim to do MT when it's just a variation of Kick Boxing.
     
  15. Drag'n

    Drag'n Green Belt

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    So by your definition ,even some guy who has trained in Thailand, and uses the exact same training methods, techniques and strategies as those taught in Thailand, and competes under full Thai rules, is still someone who doesn't practise MT, simply because he doesn't do the Ruam Muay.

    Sounds very similar to those people who say that Karate without kata, isn't karate.

    Well, each to their own I guess.
     
  16. Thunder Foot

    Thunder Foot Purple Belt

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    Well from the looks of things, it looks like Fightstuff is trying to express his discontent in the loss of the Spirit in Muay Thai. I call that someone who practices Muay Thai, but doesn't respect the culture within it. This may be going out on a long limb, but from my experience... the majority people who tend to have nice Ram Muays, also tend to take pride in their craft and be more technically sound over those that dont. But of course it takes alot more than being technical to win a fight, hehe.
     
  17. Zero

    Zero 2nd Black Belt

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    ThunderFoot, I get what you're saying (and although I've fought MTs and trained with them I am not MT but karate and wrestling so sorry for jumping in here) but I'm with Drag'n - just because you don't focus or even appreciate forms, ram mauy or kata, it does not mean your should not be able to view yourself as a pracitioner of such and such a style/art - you may be lacking what is traditionally an important or even integral part of the cultural side of your art but I don't think this need impact on your skill sets and fighting and technical ability and I don't think this automatically 'demotes' you to a lesser level (ie such as not MT but kickboxing as fightstuff puts it! hehe).

    I know and have fought a lot of karateka who are great and even gold medalists in kata but they are not necessarily well versed in fighting and their technical fight skills, such as executing combos or precisie and powerful kicks in a fight and even their fight fitness are pretty lacking. I agree it takes much more than technical soundess to win a fight but even if you're not doing your patterns, if you are drilling yourself, pushing yourself and working consistenly on your techniques and fight training this will lead to the technical soundess to carry out your moves for the purpose they are actually intended for - not doing double butterfly kicks in the air but for cutting someone's legs out from under them or taking their head off, be it in the ring or on the street.
     
  18. kidswarrior

    kidswarrior Senior Master

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    Interesting take. Never thought of it this way (don't practice MT, but did box when younger), but sounds pretty much right to me.

    Agree 100%.
     
  19. Flying-Knee-Strike

    Flying-Knee-Strike White Belt

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    While i do agree that a kata or form is helpful to mastering your art, it can only take you so far. What is the point of mastering something to increase your balance and technique if you have no fighting experience? I've seen this time and time again, a person can do some of the most amazing katas i have ever seen, ones i could never even dream of doing, but put them in a ring with me and you sometimes you can't even tell they've taken a martial art. The whole point of a kata (in my opinion) is to work on techniques that need to be perfected, but not something to be overly focused on. A kata is not something that can prepare you for a real situation, it is just a series of techniques that in my experience will never be used in a fight.
    All that is really needed to perfect your martial art can be acquired by other means, that are in my opinion not only more effective but quite a bit more fun.
     
  20. exile

    exile To him unconquered.

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    But this is not the point of kata. Kata are practical guides to combat techniques: they tell you what is effective, but they do not, and in principle cannot, make you good at executing it. For example, if you take a very simple kata like taikyoku shodan, you can derive a number of effective fighting techniques from it: e.g., in response to a grap to your arm or the front of your shirt, cover the grabbing hand (call it H1) and rotate your body 90º while pulling H1 towards you, thrusting your other forearm above the attacker's extended elbow (E1), moving your bodyweight into the pin thus on E1, forcing the attacker's upper body down, while twisting the H1 wrist counterclockwise. At this point, you're outside the attacker, you have leverage on both E1 and H1, your attacker's head is in close and low, and you can release the pin on E1 to deliver a very hard spearing elbow strike to the attacker's face followed by a hammer fist to his throat. That's in the first two moves of taikyoku shodan. I've taught this bunkai to students in my TKD classes and have shown them how, competently executed, it allows you to inflict terminal damage on the attacker, that is, physical damage sufficient to terminate their attack on you in your favor. Each kata is a chain of four or five such techniques. If you want balance, practice exercises specifically for balance; if you want power, the same. Kata aren't primarily training exercises for dynamic parameters like power, balance or `flow': they are lessons in sequences of destructive moves which, if you execute them effectively will take your attacker out of the fight.

    But the kata cannot ensure that you will execute the techs they offer effectively, any more than a mathematics text which shows you how to solve a certain kind of equation via a specific method can ipso facto guarantee that you will carry out that method successfully in the face of any given equation of the right kind. That what the exercises at the end of the section, or chapter, are for! In the same way, it's a category error to assume that knowing what to do will enable you to to actually do it. A blueprint does not create a building; you have to actually build it. A method of solution does not ensure that you will actually carry out the method correctly. A recipe does not guarantee a Michelin three-star meal as a result. These things tell you what, in each of these respective domains, you have to do, but in order to become good at doing it—at implementing the method—you have to train the method, in real time, with a noncompliant training partner, and you have to be willing to train at a realistic enough level of violence that you can be sure of your reactions and skills in an actual street attack. That means accepting a certain risk of injury, though this can be offset by a certain amount of protective gear and special conventions, such as a light touch to the eye counting as a full-force, possibly blinding finger strike to an eyeball/eye socket. There is no such thing as magic: even if you know what works, you have to make sure you have the trained skills to carry out what you know.

    People seem to think that practicing kata repeatedly is the point of kata, and then complain that kata aren't effective because no number of performances are going to equip you to fight effectively on the street. Well, of course they aren't going to, but the mistake here is in the initial assumption about how to use kata. You aren't supposed to learn the performance of kata, any more than reading a method for solving a type of equation so many times that you commit that section of the book to memory, and can recite it perfectly like a theatrical monologue, will equip you to actually solve a new equation of that type. Kata are to be studied, not performed to perfection; you perform the kata to the point that you know what the movements in it are, but once you know that you have to (i) decode the combat scenarios built into the kata, via intelligent, realistic bunkai, that allow you to understand what combat moves those movement correspond to; and (ii) then go on to train that bunkai under unpleasantly realistic conditions. There is an excellent, condensed but comprehensive discussion of kata from this point of view in the April 2007 Black Belt, pp. 99–103,by Iain Abernethy, who has done as much as, or more than, anyone to recover the combat methods encoded in classical kata. In connection with his own training of the bunkai methods he and his associates have derived from these kata, he points out that `I've bled, broken bones and dislocated joints through my own adventures, so I fully appreciate that heavy contact isn't for everyone. Nevertheless, there are many ways to structure it so it's safe, beneficial and relevant.' The thing is, you can't omit this component of kata training, or you'll be in the position of someone thinking that because they've memorized the solution method, they can solve that equation. It's not enough: you have to actually practice doing it.



    I think that's a serious error. I have seen many components of TKD hyungs, in effect KMA kata, in Combat Hapkido, which is only combat techniques and has no kata. The point of kata was to encode the fighting methods of the people who created the kata. There is a huge and growing literature on the combat methods encoded in the bunkai of just one classic kata set, the Pinan/Heian series; if you took a look at Abernethy's DVD on the street applications of the Pinans, you'd see just how effectively damaging the techs involved are. The kata show you how to deflect, pin/control the attacking limb, force the attacker into a compromised body configuration where they're vulnerable to a finishing strike, and finally how and where to deliver that strike. If all you've seen are people rehearsing kata over and over again with no actual analysis, no bunkai—no breaking of the kata down into the five or six combat scenarios they usually contain, and working out of how each of those subsequences takes you from the initial attack to neutralization of the attacker to the termination of the attack on your terms—then you've seen people who don't know how to benefit from the fighting system built into that kata, and you're making the mistake of judging the kata on the basis of misapplication and misuse of the kata for the wrong end—as choreography rather than as a lesson in major anatomical damage.

    Like what?
     
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