Karate is kata, kata is karate

isshinryuronin

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Yes, most kata seem to be more of an encyclopedia of techniques, rather than fighting concepts.
I guess you did not read the post just above yours. Here are parts that may change your opinion:
Some of the themes a particular kata may concentrate on include: Evasion by body motion or stepping w/counter, physical conditioning, grabbing and throwing down, grabbing and breaking, defending against grabs, simultaneous defense/offense, and attacking with two weapons at once - concepts of application, and possible variations. This is all in addition to various blocks, kicks and strikes, footwork, and transitions between combos. The list goes on.
The traditional katas were based on the fighting styles of the masters they were named after (like Chinto, Wansu or Kusanku) or to stress particular concepts and principles (like sanchin and naihanchi). They were not put together by randomly pulling techniques from here and there and sticking them together. Each one has been carefully crafted.
Do you know any kata? Have you been taught their applications? Are you sufficiently advanced to really make a judgement call on what kata are? Or just parroting what other inexperienced people have posted?
 

Kung Fu Wang

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These are the compound sentences or paragraphs that are linked together to form a full kata.
This is a good reason that one should not train the form from the 1st move to the last move. People should break a form apart into many combos and train those combos.

For example, a form may contain 2 sentences (or 2 combos):

- This is a book.
- What do I do with the book?

Please notice that there is no relationship between:

- book, What.

When you train, you should train each of those 2 sentences separately.

Assume your form has 5 moves.

- inside shin bite, outside shin bite, foot sweep, knee seize, foot sweep.

The 3rd move foot sweep has no relationship with the 4th move knee seize. If you train move 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 as a sequence, it won't add in any more value than just train move 1, 2, 3 and move 4, 5 separately.



 
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Gerry Seymour

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These are the compound sentences or paragraphs that are linked together to form a full kata.
When I said "short" - very short. They are single-technique forms, similar in length to what other styles call "one-steps". But they are built to require certain mechanics. A closer analogy would be haiku - short, and difficult because of the purposeful restriction involved.
 

marvin8

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Are you sufficiently advanced to really make a judgement call on what kata are?
I did not make a judgement call on what kata are or should be. I made a general comment on forms/kata with the word "seems" in reply to KFW's post "move 1 set up move 2... These kind of forms are so difficult to find." with "Yes... fighting concepts."

Or just parroting what other inexperienced people have posted?
I'm not parroting. I have posted "set up" sequences and fighting skills explanations, drills and fight clips which seem to be missing in katas.

Can you post a sequence from a kata that shows what KFW describes "move 1 [realistically] set up move 2...?" That would be interesting to see.
 
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Steve

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And they practice spelling words and making sentences with those letters thru middle school. In high school they construct compound sentences and use adjectives and adverbs, then in college, they get into prose, rhyme, composition, theme and once basics are learned, creative writing. A kata should not just be seen as an alphabet, but a series of paragraphs (commonly 6-25) making up a chapter.


These are the compound sentences or paragraphs that are linked together to form a full kata.

First, just to be clear, Im not anti-kata. I just think folks should appreciate it for what it actually does, not the pseudo-mystical reverence it sometimes gets.

In the analogy above, in the most generous kata would be more like learning a relatively short poem, and then reciting that poem over and over. There may be some value in it. I really enjoy poetry. But the value is limited and there are diminishing returns from reading the same poem over time. What starts as something new and hopefully challenging becomes simply reassuring familiarity.

We just shouldnt confuse familiarity and enjoyment with growth.


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Taiji Rebel

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But my karate is karatedo. It's a way of life. Kata is living, breathing, neverending exploration of a universe of language, all framed in the way of informed violence, but at the same time, not about violence at all. Do you think people spend a lifetime arranging flowers or printing characters because they wanted to accomplish something obvious and simple? I can order a bouquet from FTD if that's what I want. I can print fancy characters with a computer and laser printer, right? Clearly, it's about more than that.
The spiritual aspects of the art also appeal to my way of thinking. In the beginning Karate was presented to me as a fighting art. Being young I took it a face value and believed those adults leading classes spoke the truth. A short while later I began to question the validity of their teachings. The forms (kata) have felt more like a meditative practice than a way of learning to fight for many years now. Nowadays it is the forms of taijiquan and qigong rather than Karate that I perform daily, but I also run through some old forms I learnt in Wado and Kyokushin from time to time, along with forms and exercises from Tomiki Aikido too.

There are so many arguments in the martial arts. People picking holes in what works and what doesn't, but the main stay of these practices are for us as individuals. It is our task as martial arts practitioners to take the forms and techniques and make them work for us, and us alone. Even when teaching it is important to encourage people to break free of the need to prove or disprove what they do and learn to let the squabbles pass them by. We all choose our reasons for studying a certain art and have no need to convert anyone else to our way.

Albert Cheah's book Karate-Do: The Art Beyond the Techniques has the following to say:

The practice of Karate-do is not relegated to only competition or fighting, but the continual improvement of the individual and exploration of the art. Learning how to fight can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time. Learning how to improve one's character can take a lifetime. This is what defines the "do" in Karate-do.
 

isshinryuronin

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This is a good reason that one should not train the form from the 1st move to the last move. People should break a form apart into many combos and train those combos.
Yes, each "paragraph" in a form handles a specific attack and are best practiced with a partner and resistance. This is the origin of kata and how they were trained. But there's no reason you can't practice the whole thing on your own for conditioning, extended focus, transitions, memorization...

We just shouldnt confuse familiarity and enjoyment with growth.
I completely agree. Repeating a form the same way every time leads to familiarity, which leads to contempt, or at least taking it for granted, and stunts growth - other than exercise and practicing basics, a waste of time as far as the kata is concerned.

I've found that one should vary how the form is executed in: Timing combos, length of step, tempo, hip motion, how to compensate if one technique doesn't quite give the desired hypothetical effect, and so on. Each time I do it, it feels a little new. Keeps away the boredom and helps prepares the kata for actual combat.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I've found that one should vary how the form is executed in: Timing combos, length of step, tempo, hip motion, how to compensate if one technique doesn't quite give the desired hypothetical effect, and so on.
I found this one of the best uses of the rather simple forms I created for my students. I encouraged them to try different approaches with them, and often used a form as part of the warm-up, having them focus on a specific approach - sometimes focusing on something I wanted to work on that day:
  • very slow (challenges the balance)
  • very smooth, removing all the sharp transitions
  • quite fast (hard to keep them techincally accurate)
  • very precise (every move has to go to exactly the "right" ending)
  • with lots of power
  • with very short or very long steps during the transitions
  • with very narrow or very wide stances (specifically not the same as step distance)
  • combining the previous 2, but offset (narrow stance/big steps)
  • with lots of tension in the movements
I enjoyed practicing those variations, so encouraged variations in my students. In my case, the forms weren't about learning the techniques - we did that through the very short forms I mentioned earlier. They were about exploring movement and getting comfortable with transitions. In the case of weapon forms, it was an easy way to practice basic movements over and over. We didn't spar often with weapons - my focus was just getting them some basic familiarity with handling and using a few weapons (stick, double stick, and staff - I later added a sword form, just because I enjoyed using the sword in the form).

What I did find was that I could encourage types of movement by putting them in the forms. I wanted my students to be conscious of the ability to change levels (something not seen in our foundational curriculum), so I put a couple of level changes in the first form. I also included several turns and strong pivots and angle changes, because I wanted students to use those in sparring, and they'd use them more in sparring if they had practiced those moves over and over. Having them in the forms helped get that repetition while working on other stuff.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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Can you post a sequence from a kata that shows what KFW describes "move 1 [realistically] set up move 2...?" That would be interesting to see.
Here is a 9 moves short form (1. right groin kick is not included in the video).

1. Right groin kick - your opponent drops arm to block it.
2. Right hand strike to your opponent's face - your opponent blocks with right arm.
3. Chang right punch to right hand grab/pull your opponent's right wrist and left hand push his right elbow.
4. Free your right hand to circular strike your opponent's face again - your opponent blocks with left arm.
5. Left hand block/grab/pull your opponent's left wrist.
6. Right palm circular strike to your opponent's face again - your opponent blocks with right arm.
7. Right hand pulls your opponent's right wrist.
8. Left hand pulls your opponent's right elbow.
9. Free your right hand to strike on your opponent's face again.

This 9 moves combo include:

- circular attack your opponent's right side.
- circular attack your opponent's left side.
- straight attack your opponent's center.

It also includes 2 "switch hands" (2, 3, 4 and 7, 8, 9) and 1 "block and punch at the same" time (5, 6).

Like to see other people also share their forms like this.

 

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