Uselessness of kata in the real world!

isshinryuronin

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To me kata has two parts. The first part is to prepare one for combat situations should they ever arise in the street or in kumite. The second part is to be artistic.
Yes, this is a result karate's evolution from a combat art into the second part, an artistic competitive sport. But in having two parts with different goals, it's important to remain aware of the differences. We must remember, kata was originally devised as practice for combat, not as an artistic sport.

Much of the time, competitive forms favor the artistic elements over the combat effective elements - What looks nice to the judges and audience may not work nice in a fight. And techniques that work well in a fight aren't often pretty or flashy enough for forms competition. While one skill can contribute to the other, they are really two different things.

Sparring competition is a third kind of animal. Scoring points does not always equate with artistic form, or with combat effectiveness. Many of the most effective combat techniques are not allowed (for good reason) in competition. Again, we must recognize the differences between the many faces of karate and not confuse them.
 

BrendanF

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Are we calling all drills kata now?

My point isn't to nit pick. It's that whenever we have discussions about kata, we swing wildly from basically suggesting that anything resembling a form is kata to the other side where kata is essentially moving meditation from which the mysteries of the universe may be gleaned. Hard to keep up.

I think it pays to know what the term actually means, outside of one niche art.

Traditional Kata in Japanese MA
 

Oily Dragon

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Anybody here seen this before? This is just the trailer, I've seen the actual performances.

It's ironic that the same people who make fun of kata, can't do this.

 

punisher73

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How is that ironic?

Actually, nevermind that... what exactly where they doing? Whoever edited that trailer needs to be fired.
I'm not a big fan of all the choppy cut scenes either. I'd rather see a longer one to see what they are doing.
 

dvcochran

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Anybody here seen this before? This is just the trailer, I've seen the actual performances.

It's ironic that the same people who make fun of kata, can't do this.

I don't know anything about it, but I see it got terrible reviews across the board.
 

Oily Dragon

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I don't know anything about it, but I see it got terrible reviews across the board.
That's a New York art thing. Don't pay it any attention, the trailer is good enough on its own.

Have you ever seen Staying Alive?
 

punisher73

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Back to the original topic.

"Kata" is one of those things that it's not just ONE thing, so how it is being defined by the people in the discussion is crucial.

In its most basic form (no pun intended), "kata" just means form/pattern.

There are many two person katas in the martial arts, so it is not just "solo practice". For example, Judo's self-defense (Goshen) techniques that Kano thought too dangerous to try in randori were practiced as two person drills. Kendo has a series of katas that involve and attack and response between two people.

There are katas that are very short in length. Take, for example, iaido. They are a solo practice that involve drawing the sword, making a cut (or multiple cuts and/or a defensive move and then a cut or cuts), then cleaning the blood of the blade and then putting the sword back in the scabbard. All of them are based on these 4 basic ideas.

So, under this more "broad" definition of "kata" we can say that any prearranged pattern used for training is a kata. For example, if a boxing trainer is having his student go through the same prearranged combination over and over in the air and even on a pad it could be considered kata practice. Even if we add a partner and have them throw a specific punch and respond with a specific defensive maneuver followed by a specific offensive response, their method of drilling (to use the western term) is the same as kata practice in the asian cultures that used kata.

Now some define "kata" more narrowly and ONLY define it as the predefined patterns that are longer in length used by Asian martial arts for solo practice.

Next, we run into the other schools of thought in regard to kata and its usefulness. First, the people that understand that kata has to be pulled apart, practiced and drilled in increasing resistance to make it functional for fighting and also understand that it is a way to teach you how to move your body in a certain way based on how the system is set up. Then, there is the school of thought that markets itself to people who really don't want the bumps and bruises associated with fighting and imply that through solo practice alone of kata they will become an unbeatable fighter.

SO....is kata useful? Depends, it is useful if you find it useful and congruent with your goals in martial arts. It is not useful if you don't see the value in it and it is not congruent with your goals in martial arts.

Do you need kata to learn how to fight? No, you don't. But, that also doesn't make them not useful. I can pull out drills, techniques, tactics and strategies that are easy to use and distill them into a "fighting system" that would be very easy to learn without the need to learn the entire kata/system. But, not everyone wants that, so this goes back to the previous statement about what are your goals in martial arts and is the path your are taking congruent with those goals?
 

Martial D

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Without reading every post in the thread I will just share a metaphor...so I do apologize if this is redundant.

Saying Kata or forms are useless in a fight is a bit like saying the alphabet is useless in a conversation.
 

Steve

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Without reading every post in the thread I will just share a metaphor...so I do apologize if this is redundant.

Saying Kata or forms are useless in a fight is a bit like saying the alphabet is useless in a conversation.
I guess that works because there are plenty of kids who know the alphabet song but cant read or write.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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Do you need kata to learn how to fight? No, you don't. But, that also doesn't make them not useful. I can pull out drills, techniques, tactics and strategies that are easy to use and distill them into a "fighting system" that would be very easy to learn without the need to learn the entire kata/system. But, not everyone wants that, so this goes back to the previous statement about what are your goals in martial arts and is the path your are taking congruent with those goals?
What make you think that not everyone wants that?

Do you think people want to learn a form that

- move 1 can be used to set up move 2, move 2 can be used to set up move 3, ... ? or
- just teach you to step to east and punch, step to south and punch, ... (move 1 and move 2 have no logic connection)?
 
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Oily Dragon

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Taming the Tiger in the 撌 Pattern Fist (Gung Gi Fuk Fu Kuen).

Anybody else here practice this other than me? This is my morning exercise after qigong. The elixir of youth.

 
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Kung Fu Wang

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Taming the Tiger in the 撌 Pattern Fist (Gung Gi Fuk Fu Kuen).

Anybody else here practice this other than me? This is my morning exercise after qigong. The elixir of youth.

I'll do something similar. I'll

1. face east, do combo 1.
2. face south, do combo 2.
3. face west, do combo 3.
4. face north, do combo 4.
5. Repeat 1-4 20 times.

Next day I'll do 4 different combos.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Back to the original topic.

"Kata" is one of those things that it's not just ONE thing, so how it is being defined by the people in the discussion is crucial.

In its most basic form (no pun intended), "kata" just means form/pattern.

There are many two person katas in the martial arts, so it is not just "solo practice". For example, Judo's self-defense (Goshen) techniques that Kano thought too dangerous to try in randori were practiced as two person drills. Kendo has a series of katas that involve and attack and response between two people.

There are katas that are very short in length. Take, for example, iaido. They are a solo practice that involve drawing the sword, making a cut (or multiple cuts and/or a defensive move and then a cut or cuts), then cleaning the blood of the blade and then putting the sword back in the scabbard. All of them are based on these 4 basic ideas.

So, under this more "broad" definition of "kata" we can say that any prearranged pattern used for training is a kata. For example, if a boxing trainer is having his student go through the same prearranged combination over and over in the air and even on a pad it could be considered kata practice. Even if we add a partner and have them throw a specific punch and respond with a specific defensive maneuver followed by a specific offensive response, their method of drilling (to use the western term) is the same as kata practice in the asian cultures that used kata.

Now some define "kata" more narrowly and ONLY define it as the predefined patterns that are longer in length used by Asian martial arts for solo practice.

Next, we run into the other schools of thought in regard to kata and its usefulness. First, the people that understand that kata has to be pulled apart, practiced and drilled in increasing resistance to make it functional for fighting and also understand that it is a way to teach you how to move your body in a certain way based on how the system is set up. Then, there is the school of thought that markets itself to people who really don't want the bumps and bruises associated with fighting and imply that through solo practice alone of kata they will become an unbeatable fighter.

SO....is kata useful? Depends, it is useful if you find it useful and congruent with your goals in martial arts. It is not useful if you don't see the value in it and it is not congruent with your goals in martial arts.

Do you need kata to learn how to fight? No, you don't. But, that also doesn't make them not useful. I can pull out drills, techniques, tactics and strategies that are easy to use and distill them into a "fighting system" that would be very easy to learn without the need to learn the entire kata/system. But, not everyone wants that, so this goes back to the previous statement about what are your goals in martial arts and is the path your are taking congruent with those goals?
Yes.

So often, this debate gets confused, because some talk about kata (referring to strict forms, usually longer forms) being unnecessary, and use this to say it isnt beneficial. Those are two different measures. A speed bag drill is not necessary for learning to box, but many have found it beneficial. A teep isnt necessary to fight in MMA, but many have found it beneficial. And so on.

Arguing about specific approaches, and arguing about efficiency of learning, are different points that are often confounded when kata is brought up.
 

punisher73

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What make you think that not everyone wants that?

Do you think people want to learn a form that

- move 1 can be used to set up move 2, move 2 can be used to set up move 3, ... ? or
- just teach you to step to east and punch, step to south and punch, ... (move 1 and move 2 have no logic connection)?
I meant that some people enjoy the process and the journey and want something more from a martial art than JUST fighting. They enjoy learning kata and practicing it and find other benefits to it. For some, it can be a form of moving meditation. My comment was that some people prefer to "just fight" and do very well with just techniques, drilling/sparring. Other people enjoy more. It was NOT a comment on what the kata was or how it was designed.
 

Gerry Seymour

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What make you think that not everyone wants that?

Do you think people want to learn a form that

- move 1 can be used to set up move 2, move 2 can be used to set up move 3, ... ? or
- just teach you to step to east and punch, step to south and punch, ... (move 1 and move 2 have no logic connection)?
Both have their place. It really depends what they're used for. And what people want will vary widely - some folks enjoy the movement, regardless of its application (or lack thereof). Students really enjoy my sword kata, even though 1) they will never fight with a sword, and 2) I make it clear that I am not actually good with a sword, so the sword in this kata is just a prop for the movement.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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some folks enjoy the movement, regardless of its application (or lack thereof).
It depends on how you may teach your MA system.

For example, when I taught a Taiji class for old people (in their 60), I first taught them the partner drills. I then taught them the solo drills without partner. Toward the end, I then links those solo drills into a Taiji form.

IMO, this teaching method can meet to all student's need.
 

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