Should kata be symmetrical?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by skribs, Jan 8, 2018.

  1. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

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    Most katas I've done have a symmetry to them, in that for the most part you do the same thing to the right as you just did to the left. They aren't perfectly symmetrical, in that the forward-backward movements are not always mirror images, but they are pretty close. They also tend to end where you started, if not a little bit behind, which is a good way to tell if you're doing something wrong (actually was really helpful in class the other day to figure out what was wrong with someone's 3rd Dan form).

    I've seen other arts where the forms are simply a long string of techniques with no attempt to reconcile with the earlier techniques in the form. That's not to say they don't pay attention to what came before, but there's no attempt to repeat the movements on the other side, and/or no attempt to end the form in the same spot you started.

    What about your forms? Do they strive for symmetry? Do they end where they start? Do you like symmetry or asymmetry in forms?
     
  2. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    The only one we have where you don't do it like that is short form 3 where you only do the technique on one side. Some schools have changed this and added an opposite side that they do once they've completed the form. Personally I like symmetry as it works both sides but I also believe it doesn't need to be either
     
  3. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    That all depends. A weak answer, I know, but I believe it's a true one.

    I don't really care about symmetry within the form. The forms I created go through several techniques, doing one side of each. They aren't designed to alternate sides or anything like that. Each ending flows to the next technique with the most appropriate movement. That appropriateness is as much the point of the form as the techniques. I recommend students practice both sides (just start with the other side).

    My forms don't start and stop in the same place, unless they just happen to. I have tuned them over time to keep them as compact as possible, so more than one person can do them at once, without running into walls. If they happen to end at/near the same spot they started, that's nice, because they can start the second side without resetting, but different students will use different size steps and depth of stances at different points, so what ends at back at the starting point for me will likely not do so for everyone else.

    So, it depends what the purpose of the form is. If the form is intended to (within the form, without repeating it) encourage symmetrical development, it should be symmetrical. If the form is intended to be able to finish one form and immediately start the next, it should probably start and stop in the same location (which would require attention to that point as it is performed/trained). If it is intended to encourage fluidity, it should probably have movements that make that easy (for basic forms) or challenge that ability (for advanced forms).
     
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  4. Hyoho

    Hyoho Black Belt

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    Briefly the meaning of kata (shape or form) is 1. A breakdown of a waza (tried and tested technique) to help one understand that waza in detail. 2. A made up set of forms to help you understand a particular art and string specific actions together in a certain direction. So we can move left or right we can generally add impetus to the movement by turning. In most Japanese arts you do not have to finish where you started but should return to that position before doing another kata/waza.

    Can you change 2? Yes you can make up anything you want. but hopefully for the benefit of that art and not because you want to be "different". Any idiot can make it up because they cant do the original.

    There is a difference with newer arts based on 'moving forward'. Older arts base ones maai (time/distance/interval) on the basis of being stationary and acknowledging the fact that someone has entered your maai. They spare movement unless it is necessary.

    Some organizations base kata on a series of movements from different schools. Not a good idea at all but they use them for gradings.

    Can you make up a waza? No. You would have to kill somebody. But you can do 'henka' (variation) My school does henka for demonstrations and will never show true waza to the public.

    The problem with either waza or kata is there is always a grey area that leads to interpretation. The responsibility for that lies with the head of your school. Like anything good and bad come in waves.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
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  5. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    If you train for

    - health, symmetry is a good idea.
    - combat, symmetry is not necessary.

    I prefer to train different technique on different sides than to train the same technique on both sides. The reason is simple. I don't like to switch sides in fighting.

    If you spend 2 hours daily to train 2 techniques A and B, You can:

    1. Spend 1 hour to train technique A on right side. Spend the other hour to train technique B on left side.
    2. Spend 1/2 hour to train technique A on right side. Spend 1/2 hour to train technique A on left side. Spend 1/2 hour to train technique B on right side. Spend 1/2 hour to train technique B on left side.

    By using method

    - 1, you will have very good technique A on right side and very good technique B on left side.
    - 2, you will have average technique A on both sides and average technique B on both sides.

    Most people don't shot hand gun or riffle on both sides.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
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  6. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    For teaching/training purposes I like the kata to work both sides, so as to work both sides of the muscles and nerve coordination of those muscles, but not all kata I've done actually do that, particularly my aikido kata.

    They can, of course, be performed on the other side, it's just not the kata. I think that maybe the instructors presume you're smart enough to know to practice the techniques from the other direction/on the other side.
     
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  7. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    In theory if you were reflecting a fight you would pretty much try to turn one way.

    You would generally be trying to get to their blind side. So asymmetrical might be more appropriate.
     
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  8. _Simon_

    _Simon_ 2nd Black Belt

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    Yeah good question, I don't think it necessarily has to be symmetrical in order to develop a technique. Some situations it's actually good to work with your strengths and get them better. If you're right handed, sure you can train left hand alot, but honestly it will probably not ever be the same as the right, or it will take a LOT of time and drilling to get it similar to the right (which may not be a good use of time). Always good to train imbalances and get good with both sides, but I guess it can be difficult trying to get both sides the same, there will usually be a proclivity to one side.

    I like symmetry in kata, and like how it teaches that balance. I know many feel that ending in the same spot was only designed for competition purposes (for it to look pretty and neat starting and ending in the same spot), but I would suggest it may have more to do with training your stances and in trying to perfect the length and good technique of those. If you end up in a different spot at the end, perhaps your stances weren't consistent and need refining.

    But that being said, I don't think all kata end in the same spot. I always end up much further back when I finish Pinan Ni/2 no matter what I do! And Pinan Yon/4 I end somewhere else..

    In Kyokushin we also used to train kata in ura (doing a rotation before a forward/backward movement), tate (whole kata in one straight line), and reverse (at the beginning, going to the right instead of left etc), just to add more fun! XD
     
  9. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    This is my point too. I always put my right side forward. If my opponent has

    1. right side forward (uniform stance), I'll move my my back left foot to line up with his both feet.
    2. left side forward (mirror stance), I'll move my front right foot to line up with his both feet.

    I try to move myself away from his back hand and put myself in his blind side. This way, I only have to deal with his leading arm and I don't have to deal with his back arm. I'll have 2 against 1 advantage.

    I'll never switch sides. Instead, I will use complete different set of entering strategy.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
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  10. Touch Of Death

    Touch Of Death Sr. Grandmaster

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    It will never be the same on both sides, but you can learn a lot from trying.
     
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  11. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

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    Symmetrical kata are good. What's even better is reversing an asymmetrical kata that you know. Really forces you to think about what exactly you are doing. And once you get used to it/do it often, gives you the same advantage of a symmetrical kata.
     
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  12. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

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    I did this with one of our forms. It's funny, because literally every single technique in the form that I struggle with is easier on the other side, to include:
    • A triple low-middle-high side-kick with the right leg (turns out I'm better on my left)
    • A roll on the left shoulder (I roll better on my right shoulder)
    • A 360 hook kick with the right leg (I'm better at turning left, so I'm better at the 360 hook kick with my left leg)
    I mean, overall it was harder, because it's not the way I usually practice it, but those specific techniques were easier.
     
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  13. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple Senior Master

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    It's worth doing, depending how often you practice. But if you go consistently, having one day a week where you practice each of your forms 'lefty', outside of when you're at the dojo (I used to choose sunday afternoons), it can help out a lot.
     
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  14. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    thank you Hyoho....you just opened my eyes to a problem i have been trying to figure out for years, about Okinawan karate.
    Domo
     
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  15. jobo

    jobo Senior Master

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    it rather depends what you are trying to achieve suppose, if you want your kata to he a thing of beauty then they should match. If you are more interested in flowing from one techneque to the next, then less so.

    there is also the development side, most people have a bias to one side or he other, i can develope co ordination at least as well on my left as my right, but lack any power on the left. If i want to mach that up I'm going to have to spend a lit of time building the mind muscle connection on my left side, if i don't care as I'm always going to throw TH big punch right handed , then its not worth the effort and I'm better off just working my main weapon

    if its a co ordination issue, then its of more value, as you may need to block or punch with your bad side and having the means to do that is worth while

    and there is always the possibility that someone make attack from the " wrong "side
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
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  16. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    i do not think it is a matter of preference. you should do the kata the was it was designed. Some forms are designed that way others are not. in general most forms at least end facing the same direction. to force yourself to do a kata with symmetry that was not designed to be that way would mean your sacrificing proper movement and stances to fit some preconceived idea. of course the reverse is true as has been pointed out.

    personally i am much more fluid then most and i only care about proper body dynamics. as long as i end up facing the correct direction, its all good.
     
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  17. jobo

    jobo Senior Master

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    edit
     
  18. Balrog

    Balrog Master of Arts

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    All of the forms in Songahm Taekwondo are designed to start and end on the same spot. Most of them are balanced between right and left side, but there are a few that aren't, just to serve as a little more challenge.
     
  19. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    I know it's not what you meant, but now I'm picturing myself trying to do my kata backwards. That might be entertaining enough to sell tickets.
     
  20. skribs

    skribs Master of Arts

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    The question is, do you do the techniques in reverse order, or do you do the entire thing in reverse?
     

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