Kata or sparring.

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Which has more relevance over the other.
 

terryl965

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I o not beliece either one does but they must be used together for the understanding of one style. Kata, poomsae of form has a great purpose for those that understandthe important to them and sparring is the best way of building reflexs. Great question, should be interesting on the comments since alot of folk do not like kata's.
 

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Which has more relevance over the other.

IMHO, I would say that they are both important, but I place sparring before kata. Now again, this isn't to say that kata are useless, despite what some may say. I feel that kata should be understood, and not just something that is done for the sake of doing it. Why would anyone want to just go thru the motions, without knowing what they're doing?

Of course, knowing what you're doing, means that you need a teacher to show some examples of applications, as well as the student being able to dig and think on their own.

I don't use kata to fight, so that is why I feel that sparring is important. You need to get in and mix it up with someone, someone who is moving, resisting, etc.
 
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I o not beliece either one does but they must be used together for the understanding of one style. Kata, poomsae of form has a great purpose for those that understandthe important to them and sparring is the best way of building reflexs. Great question, should be interesting on the comments since alot of folk do not like kata's.

I also feel that sparring is important, but not to a default. You are very correct that reflexes are greatly enhanced.
 
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I o not beliece either one does but they must be used together for the understanding of one style. Kata, poomsae of form has a great purpose for those that understandthe important to them and sparring is the best way of building reflexs. Great question, should be interesting on the comments since alot of folk do not like kata's.

IMHO, I would say that they are both important, but I place sparring before kata. Now again, this isn't to say that kata are useless, despite what some may say. I feel that kata should be understood, and not just something that is done for the sake of doing it. Why would anyone want to just go thru the motions, without knowing what they're doing?

Of course, knowing what you're doing, means that you need a teacher to show some examples of applications, as well as the student being able to dig and think on their own.

I don't use kata to fight, so that is why I feel that sparring is important. You need to get in and mix it up with someone, someone who is moving, resisting, etc.

All forms of sparring and SD are broken down into segments of movement, which is what kata does for us. Once we have practiced these segments, and through accompanying drills, we begin to feel a flow that can be transmitted into our SD. Kata alone allow us a follow through of techniques, to a finish that sparring with its rules wont.
:asian:
 

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An interesting question. I would have to say that they are equally important. I would also say, coming from a Taekwon-Do background, that there are three other aspects of training that cannot be ignored. Taekwon-Do is composed of the following aspects:

Fundamental Movements
Forging (Dallyon)
Patterns (Tul)
Sparring (Matsogi)
Self-Defense (Ho Sin Sul)

In Gen. Choi's encyclopedia there is an illustration of the relationship between these five aspects. It is a circle with one leading to the next leading to the next, etc. so, for example, patterns lead to sparring which leads to self-defense, which leads back to fundamental movements, etc. It is possible to separate each aspect out for training purposes but focusing on just one to the exclusion of the others is detrimental in the long run.

The following explanation is taken from Gen. Choi's Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do:
Taekwon-Do is composed of fundamental movements, patterns, dallyon, sparring and self-defence techniques that are so closely related that it is impossible to segregate one phase of instruction from another. Fundamental movements are necessary for sparring and patterns, while both patterns and sparring are indispensable for perfection of fundamental movements.

In the illustration [referenced above], one can see it is difficult to distinguish the beginning of the cycle from the end. There is, in fact, like the Deity, no beginning or end. A student will find that he will have to return time and time again to the beginning fundamental movements to perfect his advanced sparring and self-defence techniques.

Each fundamental movement, in most cases, represents and attack or defence against a particular target area or definite action of an imaginary opponent or opponents. It is necessary to learn as many fundamental movements as possible and fit them into complete proficiency so the student can meet any situation in actual combat with confidence. The pattern actually places the student in a hypothetical situtaion where he must avail himself to defence, counterattack, and attact motions, against several opponents. Through constant practice of these patterns, the attack and defence become a conditioned reflex movement. Power and speed must be developed to such a high degree that only one single blow is needed to stop an opponent, so the student can shift stance and block or attack another opponent. Each pattern is different from the other in order to develop reaction against changing circumstances.

Once the basic patterns are mastered, the student then begins to physically apply the skill obtained from fundamental patterns and movements to sparring against actual moving opponents.

Collaterally with sparring, the student must begin to develop his body and toughen his attacking and blocking tools so he is able to deliver maximum damage in actual combat. Once a student has applied himself to fundamental movements, patterns, sparring and dallyon, then the time has arrived for the student to test his coordination, speed, balance, and concentration against spontaneous attacks: ie. self-defence. The student will constantly find himself retruning, however, to his fundamentals even when he has achieved the highest possible degree of self-defence techniques. As in military training, Taekwon-Do progression follows a certain parallel:
1. Fundamental Movements = Individual soldiers's basic training
2. Dallyon = Maintenance of equipment
3. Patterns = Platoon tactics
4. Sparring = Field exercises in simulated combat conditions
5. Self-defence = Actual Combat

As you can see, breaking is not actually a part of Taekwon-Do per se but is, rather, a way to test the power you generate from the individual techniques.

In any event, I think Gen. Choi did a great job of explaining the relationship between the various aspects of Taekwon-Do (and Martial Arts in general). I would also note that "sparring" actually covers a variety of things: Pre-Arranged Sparring (i.e., 3-, 2-, and 1-step sparring), semi-free sparring (brief exchange of techniques flexible in its composition but ending with a decisive counter-attack), free-sparring, pre-arranged free sparring and model sparring (both used for demonstrating techniques), and foot-sparring.

Pax,

Chris
 
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IMHO, I would say that they are both important, but I place sparring before kata. Now again, this isn't to say that kata are useless, despite what some may say. I feel that kata should be understood, and not just something that is done for the sake of doing it. Why would anyone want to just go thru the motions, without knowing what they're doing?

Of course, knowing what you're doing, means that you need a teacher to show some examples of applications, as well as the student being able to dig and think on their own.

I don't use kata to fight, so that is why I feel that sparring is important. You need to get in and mix it up with someone, someone who is moving, resisting, etc.

There are two distinct trains of thought here, one being the importance of one over the other, and the other, the practical benefits of doing kata. Maybe we can dissect both. Bunkai, when properly understood can open up a whole new world. The problem, as you stated, is having a teacher to point us in the right direction. This coupled with some old fashioned cross training with open many doors. Back with combining kata and sparring, I feel one is sport and the other (kata) is pure SD. Do they intermingle well??
 

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Whilst it is fairly obvious that we cannot really 'spar' when practsing iai, there are partner forms within the ryu that allow us to work with another swordsman and gain a practical understanding of distance and timing. Similarly, we can work through the bunkai of a kata using a partner to fulfil the role of the attacker and thus illustrate just what it is that the kata embodies.

However, kata and bunkai are vital, in my opinion, to learning any martial art. Armed arts particularly require it but the empty-handed arts too need that foundation of the instinctive understanding of techniques.

Sparring is a useful adjunct to that foundation, provided that those sparring concentrate on using the techniques of the art they are learning. If they don't then it's play-fighting without a teaching purpose (other than the confidence of giving and taking physical attacks).

If I had to pick which was the more 'important' element, then I'd say kata. Without a proper foundation then the whole house falls down. The caveat is that kata have to be performed with an understanding of the bunkai inherent to them and a strong mental 'imaging' of what is going on - otherwise it just becomes dancing.
 
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Whilst it is fairly obvious that we cannot really 'spar' when practsing iai, there are partner forms within the ryu that allow us to work with another swordsman and gain a practical understanding of distance and timing. Similarly, we can work through the bunkai of a kata using a partner to fulfil the role of the attacker and thus illustrate just what it is that the kata embodies.

However, kata and bunkai are vital, in my opinion, to learning any martial art. Armed arts particularly require it but the empty-handed arts too need that foundation of the instinctive understanding of techniques.

Sparring is a useful adjunct to that foundation, provided that those sparring concentrate on using the techniques of the art they are learning. If they don't then it's play-fighting without a teaching purpose (other than the confidence of giving and taking physical attacks).

If I had to pick which was the more 'important' element, then I'd say kata. Without a proper foundation then the whole house falls down. The caveat is that kata have to be performed with an understanding of the bunkai inherent to them and a strong mental 'imaging' of what is going on - otherwise it just becomes dancing.
Thank you, Sukerkin, your input is valued. If I were to pick kata, my feelings are the same as yours, some could derive sparring techniques from them, and others down and dirty SD techniques. At face value, I see punches kicks and blocks, that translate into rudimentary sparring moves. But on a deeper evaluation I see a storeroom of vital finishing techniques, that far exceed what I could accomplish in sparring. I pose a very hard question, only answered individually, depending on your understanding of your particular art. If an art is sparring based with some kata is it SD? If it is kata based with some sparring is it more SD based? What is SD? Sparring by its very nature implies winner or loser. Kata by its very nature implies life and death. Interchangeable? What say you??
 

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That is a hard question, Seasoned, as it cuts to the psychological rammifications of 'training to miss'.

To be honest, with my limited experience of putting into practise my training, I wouldn't like to make too cut-and-dried a response to it.

My instinctive feel is that, if sparring is perfromed in the same spirit as kata, then it can come quite close to allowing the artist to execute techniques fully. With an engagement of the imagination and the realisation that you stop just short with those techniques that can kill because you choose to do so, then it may be that the major criticism of sparring (that it's not 'real') can be ameliorated.
 

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Kata seems like a good first step. My first thought when I read the OP was to wonder what we're talking about? Relevant to what? SD?

It seems to me that Kata is essentially the first part of internalizing technique. Kata is repetitive. I do solo drills at home that are specific to BJJ. We start classes often by partnering up and working technique. No resistance. Just getting the motion and conditioning our bodies in a very specific way.

I see Kata as the technique portion, and sparring as the timing portion. You can't, IMO, develop the timing necessary to execute a technique without attempting that technique time and again in a somewhat random setting against a variety of body types, attitudes and skill levels.
 
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That is a hard question, Seasoned, as it cuts to the psychological rammifications of 'training to miss'.

To be honest, with my limited experience of putting into practise my training, I wouldn't like to make too cut-and-dried a response to it.

My instinctive feel is that, if sparring is perfromed in the same spirit as kata, then it can come quite close to allowing the artist to execute techniques fully. With an engagement of the imagination and the realisation that you stop just short with those techniques that can kill because you choose to do so, then it may be that the major criticism of sparring (that it's not 'real') can be ameliorated.

Exactly, and quite to the point. In kata when I go in for that head grab, I can take it all the way to the twist, and neck break. Not so in sparring. I would think with that said, kata relevance would be established. As you have so nicely stated. J Anybody else, stepping up to the plate?
 
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Kata seems like a good first step. My first thought when I read the OP was to wonder what we're talking about? Relevant to what? SD?

It seems to me that Kata is essentially the first part of internalizing technique. Kata is repetitive. I do solo drills at home that are specific to BJJ. We start classes often by partnering up and working technique. No resistance. Just getting the motion and conditioning our bodies in a very specific way.

I see Kata as the technique portion, and sparring as the timing portion. You can't, IMO, develop the timing necessary to execute a technique without attempting that technique time and again in a somewhat random setting against a variety of body types, attitudes and skill levels.

Thanks for the post. In traditional arts, such as Okinawan GoJu, kata contain the essence of this SD based art. With a vivid imagination, you can depict the various hair grabs, eye gouges, and vital organ strikes within the minds eye. Much harder to apply in a sparring situation, for safety reasons. I have said this before and I will draw the parallel again, if I may. In LE, we shoot to kill, but only at targets. Then when expected too, this shoot to kill, we have practiced for, becomes a reality. How can this be? It comes from the minds eye, because when we were shooting at the targets, in our minds eye, they are the perpetrator. We can do this somewhat in sparring but only to a certain point. In sparring when I grab the head I have to simulate the full motion of the move, not so in kata. Both are valuable, but the question is which one is more important to understand, kata or sparring? Remember go back to the LE analogy above and go from there.
 

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I am a firm believer that they feed each other. With the ultimate being that you can utilize the movements in a MARTIAL sense. I think a great many have forgotten that what we do is first and foremost for combative reasons. At least that is what it started as.
 

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In my class my instructor will have us use what ever kata we are working on for sparring. We include take down and various grappling moves. It causes a lot of bruising and sometimes a little blood. There still some rules like no grappling on the neck. But pulling hair is OK(I use to have long hair and that was a pain so now I'm high and tight). We have other rules as well. It really makes you combine your various.

So I'll say they are equally important.
 

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I think you need Kata to learn to perfect a technique.

Sparring or Randori to learn to Apply the technique on someone else.

IMO Kata by itself MAY work, but tends to leave you less than adaptable to changes your opponent makes. Sparring by itself may allow you to do some techniques, but your technical proficiency may be lacking, and result in fewer tools in the toolbox so to speak.
 
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I think you need Kata to learn to perfect a technique.

Sparring or Randori to learn to Apply the technique on someone else.

IMO Kata by itself MAY work, but tends to leave you less than adaptable to changes your opponent makes. Sparring by itself may allow you to do some techniques, but your technical proficiency may be lacking, and result in fewer tools in the toolbox so to speak.


Do you favor one over the other, and do you feel that to much of one, will hurt the other, Or do you give equal time?
 

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The goal is to be able to perform effectively under pressure. To do that you need to have useful responses. You need to be able to choose them correctly at combat speed which means you don't have time to waste. You need to be able to perform them smoothly and efficiently without any wasted energy. And you need to be able to do it when someone who is at least your match in training and physicality is trying to keep you from doing it.

Solo practice gives trains the nervous system so that you have patterned movement. If the patterned movement can be invoked it will be precise and performed with with biomechanical efficiency to the limits of physical speed and strength. Solo exercises give you your own range of motion and teach you the boundaries of your own timing.

You can't be a good boxer without working the heavy bag, the speed bag, shadow boxing and general conditioning.

What they don't give you is combative distance and timing and the other part of the equation, making the right choices at speed and against resistance. For those you need other people, ones of many different sizes, strengths, speeds and levels of training.

To be a good boxer you also need to work focus mitts. You need to spar and every once in a while you need fights.

Which is more important? That's like saying "Which is more important, air or water?" The real question is how much you need of each of them right now.
 

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I like the encapsulation your last sentence gives there, tellner.

I have been weighing up which was more important in the equation of training for three decades now and that one phrase lays out why I've never been able to dismiss sparring type experience totally (even tho' it is clear to most here who know my views that I think kata is more important for learning the art).
 

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All forms of sparring and SD are broken down into segments of movement, which is what kata does for us. Once we have practiced these segments, and through accompanying drills, we begin to feel a flow that can be transmitted into our SD. Kata alone allow us a follow through of techniques, to a finish that sparring with its rules wont.
:asian:

I don't necessarily disagree with you, however, I wanted to comment on the last line of your post. Now, doing a kata in the air, yes, that allows us to follow through, just like any other technique. Of course, if we do those same techniques on a person, we can't follow thru with everything, due to the fact that we have to take the nature of the tech. in question, into consideration. If there is an arm break in the kata, we certainly can't follow thru when applying the move on someone. So like sparring with rules, even the techs have rules, so to speak.
 
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