What kata win in competition?

Grenadier

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For WKF / USA-NKF tournaments (or those that use such rules), the Shotokan and Shito Ryu kata seem to be a lot more popular than the Wado Ryu or Goju Ryu kata, in the open divisions.

At the brown belt (intermediate) levels:

Shotokan - Kanku Dai, Bassai Dai, Jion, and Empi

Shito Ryu - Seienchin, Bassai Dai

Goju Ryu - Seipai

Wado Ryu - Kusanku

At the black belt (advanced) levels:

Shotokan - Unsu, Gojushiho Sho, Gojushiho Dai, Sochin, Kanku Sho, occasionally Gankaku. I've seen a good number of ladies win very nicely with Chinte.

Shito Ryu - Chatanyara Kusanku, Suparimpei, Nipaipo

Goju Ryu - Suparimpei, Kururunfa

Wado Ryu - Kusanku, Wanshu, Chinto


This isn't a complete list by any means, just simply what I see at the various USA-NKF / WKF competitions.


For the Shitei / elite divisions, you have to do two rounds of mandatory kata, in which case, most of the winners use either the Shotokan kata Kanku Dai and Jion, or Shito Ryu's Bassai Dai and Seienchin.

The Wado Ryu folks have a bit of a harder time here. Chinto is an excellent kata for tournaments, but Seishan isn't one that shows very well. I often wonder why they didn't pick something like Wanshu instead? For the most part, whenever I see Wado Ryu folks in the mandatory division, they'll do Chinto for one round, but will then use Shotokan's Kanku Dai or Jion for the next round. In the
 

Grenadier

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In all the tournaments I've been to, there wasn't a lot of variety. When it came to weapon forums, about 95% of those competing either had a staff, or kamas. I saw a samurai sword only once, and two wushu broadswords from the same two people. Also saw one pair of tiger hooks. Never saw any sai's, or Tonfa. When it came up empty handed kata, a lot of the same people would do a weaponless variation of the same form. This was something I was always disappointed by.
But to actually try to answer your question, as best as I can remember, the kata's that usually won were the more 'fancy one's performed with a certain degree of sharpness as opposed to kata that were more straight forward.


It depends on the tournament. For the USA-NKF themed tournaments, weapons are either long, short, or in a separate Iaido class.

For long weapons, most folks opt for the bo, since it's well-balanced, easier to use, and you can generate a lot of power if you know how to use the lower body to drive the upper body. Some folks use Eiku (oar), and some use Yari (spear), but they generally tend to be a lot more rare.

For short weapons, sai, tonfa, nunchaku, and then kama, in that order, seem to be the most popular.

There are two ways people prepare for weapons competition. Some simply use a version of their empty hand kata with a weapon, improvising a few things, while others study a separate kobudo system. From what I've seen, those who practice separate kobudo systems seem to have a good advantage here, where the Mateyoshi Ryu, Ryu Kyu, and Yamanni Ryu folks seem to do better as a whole than the improvised ones.
 

chrispillertkd

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Interesting! I did go to a strictly Isshin-Ryu tournament with had two separate divisions for kata - one which the competitor picked their kata, and one which the competitor drew a kata out of a hat and performed that. One of our students tried the latter, drew Naihanchi, and the judge say "Oh, sorry, bad luck." And yeah, she did Naihanchi well, but the fact is, Naihanchi doesn't win tournaments.

This I don't really get (well I do, but...). If you're going to assign people a kata to do then you should score them on their performance of that form (how much power they got, how technically correct they were, their spirit when doing it, etc.) not on how well you like it. This should especially be the case in a closed/style-specific tournament, I think. There are some Taekwon-Do tul that I like better than others but if someone does Toi-Gye (for example) and nails it and the other person does Joon-Gun only halfway decently then Toi-Gye wins.

That seemed a trifle on the 'unfair' side to me, but it wasn't my tournament, so they can have whatever rules they like, I guess.
Yep. I'd have less of a problem with it if, as I said, they'd try to take personal preference out of it and judge solely on the merits of the person's performance of the kata they get. But that's just me :)

Pax,

Chris
 

puunui

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For WKF / USA-NKF tournaments (or those that use such rules), the Shotokan and Shito Ryu kata seem to be a lot more popular than the Wado Ryu or Goju Ryu kata, in the open divisions.

How does the USA-NKF handle the idea that some judges may not have learned certain kata that are outside of their style? How do you score on technical accuracy if you don't know what the technical accuracy is?
 

harlan

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Chinto is correct: depends on the art/tournament. The 'Open' ones seem to award 'noise and fury' regardless of kata. Tough enough to compete as an adult in Okinawan kobudo (too many categories, not enough real competition), when judges simply don't know what to look for. I know for a fact that in my area the one lady in my division that wins regularly has added kama to a TKD/Shotokan form, adds cartwheels and lots of kiais....and it's painful to watch. I tried one tournament once and actually won all three categories (weapons, kata and sparring) with Goju Seisan, and Matayoshi Eku - and was embarrassed that I had bothered.

But if it's a tournament that's more specialized, and your studies are more in the nature of 'adding' kobudo to empty-hand, I'd suggest sai. Just enough flash, and appeals to the judges that base everything on empty-hand movement/interpretation.

depends on the art and the tournament. I have seen some things that were 'competition kata' that, well I dont know weather to laugh of cry when I saw them. flashy but would get you killed in a real fight. ( ya literally killed dead ) I like the kicks low ( in Okinawan Karate ) and well traditional Karate kata with real meaning.

all I can advise is go watch and see what seems to be winning and if you want to do that kind of thing.
 

Grenadier

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How does the USA-NKF handle the idea that some judges may not have learned certain kata that are outside of their style? How do you score on technical accuracy if you don't know what the technical accuracy is?

A fair question indeed...

At each regional tournament, there are kata license upgrade opportunities as well. During these courses, judges / referees learn about each of the 4 major Karate systems' (Shotokan, Shito Ryu, Goju Ryu, Wado Ryu) kata. Usually two kata are covered, and at this upcoming regional this weekend, I'll be attending the course to learn about Shito Ryu's Seienchin, and Goju Ryu's Seipai. I've taken several courses for audit, and am going to go for an official kata judging license.

This way, the better judges for kata usually have kata judging licenses, since they know what is supposed to be good for each of the 4 major systems, and not just their own system's.

I already have a good bit of familiarity with Shotokan and Wado Ryu kata, and look forward to this seminar to further increase my knowledge of how the other two systems work. More importantly, I'll get a better idea of what to look for, in terms of good fundamentals.

At the national level, almost all of the judges are quite familiar with the other systems' kata, and the judging tends to be more balanced. At the world level, *all* kata judges must have a WKF kata license, meaning that they progressed through their country's judging as an "A" level judge, and then went to the PKF level as well as an "A" judge. They should darn well know about all 4 systems by that time...

Of course, at the regional level, you might not have enough judges who are familiar with other systems, and that does occasionally present a problem, since what one judge knows to be good for his non-native system, may be seen as inferior by someone not familar with the system. In that case, someone could very well get screwed in the judging. With 5 judges for kata, though, things usually tend to balance out.

Still, good basics in a particular system are still good basics, and can usually show well enough that any yudansha from any of the 4 major systems, should be able to see this. Again, it's not perfect, but it's about as fair of a system as things can get at this level.
 

puunui

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Still, good basics in a particular system are still good basics, and can usually show well enough that any yudansha from any of the 4 major systems, should be able to see this. Again, it's not perfect, but it's about as fair of a system as things can get at this level.

Thanks for your reply. I am trying to understand karate in the hopes that there will be at least some applicability to taekwondo.

Do you see any differences in technical standards between the same kata but from different styles? How do you keep it all straight in your head? What if a goju practitioner does a kata like a shotokan practitioner's standards? Sounds complicated.
 

Grenadier

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Thanks for your reply. I am trying to understand karate in the hopes that there will be at least some applicability to taekwondo.

Do you see any differences in technical standards between the same kata but from different styles? How do you keep it all straight in your head? What if a goju practitioner does a kata like a shotokan practitioner's standards? Sounds complicated.

It's not easy at all.

You have to keep an open mind about things, and have familiarity with how a particular system performs its fundamental technique. There are a good number of kata that are performed in several of the systems, such as Jion, and to know how each system performs each kata specifically would take an almost impossible effort to learn. Then, you also have various hybrid systems that incorporate aspects of multiple arts, muddling things even more.

Those who compete at the higher levels, though, are going to learn the kata from the major systems, and use their fundamental techniques. After all, if you try to perform Shito Ryu kata using Shotokan basics (or vice versa), then you're going to end up in a situation where you'll have neither a donkey, nor a horse, and instead, a mule...

On the other hand, one has to realize that Shotokan practitioners are going to favor deeper stances, while also generating maximum power, while Shito Ryu will favor more of a natural stance while preferring speed and flow, etc. A good kata judge should be able to recognize the characteristics of the kata being performed, as to which system it came from, and if the performer is adhering to those specific fundamentals.

Even if a judge doesn't have familiarity with all of the 4 major systems, with an open mind, he *should* be able to understand body mechanics to a degree, that he can recognize when a technique can generate power, and when it can't. Is the stance stable, or unstable? Are the blocks capable of stopping attacks, or not? Given that a judge or referee must hold at least a shodan ranking, it's not an unreasonable thing at all. Unfortunately, there are a fair number of individuals who refuse to grant credit where credit is due...

The transition from one system to another can be difficult, or relatively simple, depending on many things, such as how closely related the systems are, and how well the individual can adapt. For example, the Wado Ryu practitioners who choose one of the Shotokan Shitei kata (Kanku Dai or Jion) as their second Shitei kata are usually able to make a pretty smooth transition, since the two systems are somewhat related. However a Goju Ryu practitioner using one of the Shotokan Shitei kata may have a more difficult time.
 

puunui

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The transition from one system to another can be difficult, or relatively simple, depending on many things, such as how closely related the systems are, and how well the individual can adapt. For example, the Wado Ryu practitioners who choose one of the Shotokan Shitei kata (Kanku Dai or Jion) as their second Shitei kata are usually able to make a pretty smooth transition, since the two systems are somewhat related. However a Goju Ryu practitioner using one of the Shotokan Shitei kata may have a more difficult time.

What is a shitei kata? Also, do competitors have some sort of badge or patch that identifies them as a representative of a particular style? How do you know which competitor comes from what style and therefore is or should be displaying the characteristics of their particular style when performing kata?

As a comparison, we used to have this in taekwondo forms competition, sort of, where people would come from different kwan or different teachers and so we could not judge on technical accuracy but instead on presentation almost exclusively. Over time, there came to a sort of american style to doing the taekwondo poomsae at ustu (our old usoc olympic ngb), which had nothing to do with the standards set by the kukkiwon. But now there is an emphasis on having the same technical guidelines, which requires everyone to bend to this standard, including me. And I can tell you my mind is resisting. :)
 
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Bill Mattocks

Bill Mattocks

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What is a shitei kata? Also, do competitors have some sort of badge or patch that identifies them as a representative of a particular style? How do you know which competitor comes from what style and therefore is or should be displaying the characteristics of their particular style when performing kata?

I wear an Isshin-Ryu patch on the front of my gi; it's very distinctive and most judges and tournament people know it; many if not most Isshin-Ryu karateka wear it.

Also, when a karateka performs a kata, they first approach the judges and introduce themselves, giving their name, where they train (including style), and the name of the kata they are going to perform. There are usually at least a few Isshin-Ryu judges at the open tournaments I have been to. There have been a few that were mostly TKD, though, and I have to say that I did not do that well. I got third place doing Chinto at one such tournament. When I asked one of the judges what in her opinion I could have done better, she told me my kicks were not high enough. Well, that would be because we don't do high kicks. But she didn't know that. Oh well. I suppose a TKD stylist would have similar difficulty in the reverse situation.

However, at an open tournament, one is free to do kata from any style. I've considered doing Kyan no Sai at tournament (once I learn it well enough) because it is considerably shorter and easier to learn than Kusanku Sai (our similar sai kata) and it's more recognizable to many judges from other styles.

As a comparison, we used to have this in taekwondo forms competition, sort of, where people would come from different kwan or different teachers and so we could not judge on technical accuracy but instead on presentation almost exclusively. Over time, there came to a sort of american style to doing the taekwondo poomsae at ustu (our old usoc olympic ngb), which had nothing to do with the standards set by the kukkiwon. But now there is an emphasis on having the same technical guidelines, which requires everyone to bend to this standard, including me. And I can tell you my mind is resisting. :)

Even in Isshin-Ryu, there are many ways of doing the same thing. I've watched people doing Isshin-Ryu kata in tournament, wearing the patch, and I can hardly tell what kata it is supposed to be. However, many of the more experienced karateka can tell not only what kata it is, but who they learned it from. Interesting how we can all be so alike and yet so different at the same time.
 

Grenadier

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What is a shitei kata? Also, do competitors have some sort of badge or patch that identifies them as a representative of a particular style? How do you know which competitor comes from what style and therefore is or should be displaying the characteristics of their particular style when performing kata?

There are no identifiers on the uniform. The only patch allowed is the USA-NKF or WKF patch (at the respective levels).

At the WKF level, everyone pretty much knows who you are, what system you use, etc.

Shitei = Mandatory kata. There are two shitei kata for each of the four systems:

Shotokan: Kanku Dai, Jion
Wado Ryu: Chinto, Seishan
Goju Ryu: Seipai, Saifa
Shito Ryu: Bassai Dai, Seienchin

These kata were selected by the representatives of each of the four systems, that they believed showed the characteristics of the style. Each of those kata are usually taught around the brown belt to early black belt stages.

At the WKF level, as well as at the USA-NKF elite level, all kata competitors must select a shitei kata for the first two round, and they must be performed exactly in the manner in which it is described in the shitei manual. Thus, if you substitute an outward middle block for an inward middle block, or if you kiai in the wrong place, you will be disqualified. No modifications are allowed.

You aren't restricted to doing only your own system's kata. You can select any two of the eight kata to perform during the first two rounds. It's not unusual to see Wado Ryu or Goju Ryu people selecting one of the Shotokan or Shito Ryu kata as their second kata, since some of their own picks aren't going to show very well (Seishan and Saifa).

This way, everyone's on somewhat of a level playing field. Because everyone is doing the same batch of kata, you can make a less biased judgement, especially since the degree of difficulty is going to be about the same for all of them.

Again, it's not perfect, but it does make things more fair.

After the second round is over, you can use any kata on the Tokui (open) list or Shitei list, and you can make any dojo-specific modifications that you want.


Another use of the shitei kata, is when various members of the USA-NKF or WKF go for USA-NKF or WKF dan rankings. These rankings are designed to supplement your main system's ranking, not replace it. What it does, though, is give about as universal of a ranking in Karate as there ever could be (and there never will be a completely universal one). As you go for the lower dan grades, you're expected to perform your main system's shitei kata, and later on, the interpretation of it, in addition to other requirements.

As you get higher up, you must perform other systems' shitei kata, and demonstrate the interpretation as well, and the number of kata that must be performed increases accordingly. Thus, people who have a higher dan ranking with the USA-NKF or WKF should also have a pretty good knowledge of the other systems' methods as well.
 

Black Belt Jedi

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Thanks! Most of the tournaments I have been to have separate divisions for traditional and creative weapons kata. Music, weapons that light up or leave the performer's hands (ie, throwing bo and such high in the air and catching it, etc), backflips, etc, are all left to the 'creative' kata divisions. I don't even consider that sort of thing; I'd never be able to do any such kata and don't really have any interest in trying.

I'll have to check youtube for an example of tomari wando.

Here is a video that took place 21 years ago in 1991. Where a Karate practitioner performed Gojushiho kata against a Taekwondo practitioner and a Wushu practitioner.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nobSH4MOsJA&list=PLF4B8F10A97A0F288&index=53&feature=plpp_video

Well here is Tomari Wando kata performed by my student at a tournament last February in Kingston, On.
 
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Zenjael

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I've seen people win in upper-belt competitions using the introductory form of their style. The reason they won was because of their absolutely flawless execution, which anyone could see, even if unfamiliar with the kata or form being demonstrated.

It's not advisable, cause some view it as an offense toward the competition, judges, and other competitors or demonstrators, but I recall a teacher I had who was adamant that you cannot only do one form to win. And if you can win with say Taebek, a 3rd dan form (in some of the kwans) he always said there should be no reason not to win with everything which led up to that form.

Honestly, I think his point was that if you are a 3rd, or 2nd dan, all the forms you do should reflect it.
 
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