Why Kata?

Discussion in 'Karate' started by yuen, Jul 19, 2011.

  1. robertmap

    robertmap Valued Member

    Reading the posts in this thread I am overcome by a feeling of amazement that people are trying to discuss something that is probably more contentious than 'does god exist'...

    I posted previously "Over the years I have had friends who teach different styles of karate some use kata a LOT some not at all."

    What I should have added is that equally some think of kata as a complete waste of time some think of it as fundamental to what they do (including from a fighting and self-defence perspective) - I think that it is almost impossible to convince people who are in one camp of the validity of the other.
  2. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    I highlight Kyokushin for two main reasons. Firstly, Master Betty prefers full contact styles. Secondly, while you may not think full contact competition is the be-all and end-all, I don't see how else one could establish (1) what instructor really speaks with authority on the correct interpretation of the kata and (2) whether kata is a useful training method.

    You know as well as I do that kata training, at least in the majority of karate clubs, is choreographed.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2011
  3. bassai

    bassai onwards and upwards ! Moderator Supporter

    Just to flip that round , why not use it to drill a specific sequence until it becomes instinctive ?
    Katas major failing , imo , is length , hence some of the ridiculous bunkai we get with people "defending" attacks from 4 directions at once.
  4. John Titchen

    John Titchen Still Learning Supporter

    As Itosu emphatically stated, Karate is not designed for square goes. It is designed for HAOV. So full contact competition bears little relation to the efficacy of the techniques trained. Full contact defence against role players launching HAOV (as seen in lots of videos on other threads here) would be a better test.

    I do, but I have been talking about solo individual Kata training, the thing you learn Kata for, so you have training you can do when you don't have a training partner.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2011
  5. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    Perhaps, but only a tiny minority of karateka actually engage in the kind of training you're describing here, so the overwhelming bulk of them are still unable to back up what they say with something objective. And again, that kind of training is extremely rare.

    I think we're getting our wires crossed here.

    Your original argument was that you do kata rather than shadow boxing because you don't just want to use strikes - you want to include grappling manoeuvres such as armlocks. But that's a non-sequitur. There's no reason why you can't just shadow box with those techniques thrown in rather than choreographed kata practice.

    You ask me who says you don't do exactly that - well, that's not what you'll find at most karate clubs and it's not the kind of training Master Betty is criticising here.

    Maybe at YOUR club you do a more spontaneous drill that's a lot more like shadow boxing and call it "kata" anyway, but it's not what 99.9% of karate clubs do and it's not the kind of training MB is criticising here. You seem to keep using YOUR club, the like of which is extremely rare, to validate the training methods used by the overwhelming majority of clubs that train in a completely different way. I know a Go Kan Ryu instructor who has his students spar with heavy contact, but that doesn't validate Go Kan Ryu because he only speaks for a tiny, tiny minority of schools.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2011
  6. Osu,

    From my experience, not that many kyokushin dojos are teaching/practicing kata the proper way - those that do are very, very good!

    Very good point - my very best kata learning experiences were in GoJuRyu dojos. These dojos were also engaging in full contact BTW.
    There is a lot of carry over from kata to competition fighting: it is great for recuperation, forging the appropriate mind maps and visualization...
    However, IMHO, the main purpose of kata is to train for "unfair fights" where getting done with the opposition in record time with maximum damage and minimum exposure is necessary.
    There are better ways to prepare to the "game of kumite" than kata; but kata can still be a good addition. :)

  7. John Titchen

    John Titchen Still Learning Supporter

  8. lma

    lma Valued Member

    Muhamed Ali used kata ....... Well ok he called it future history. Its a visualisation tool to us just like many top sports people use.

    Master Betty experience in kata was Taekwondo. There patterns are just a couple of simple moves there just not alive like Karate Katas. But most clubs I know teach it properly.

    Most clubs I know do mix it up even if sometimes by accident
  9. Llamageddon

    Llamageddon MAP's weird cousin Supporter

    I've trained with JWT. He certainly doesn't use 'kata' as most trad karateka would recognise it. However, if you trained kata the way most clubs do, and then train with it in the way JWT does, I think his point would become abundantly clear.

    The shadowboxing element, I think, can become as spontaneous and mixed up as you like once you know the composite techniques/kata.

    I wonder if some people are conflating the use of kata with karate training as a whole? I've seen a lot of 'most karate clubs don't do this', but I don't think this is really the point of the argument. It's not about what karate clubs A and B do, it's about kata removed from the club environment.
  10. Mike Flanagan

    Mike Flanagan Valued Member

    I think John makes some pertinent points here but especially the emboldened bit. I’m not a big fan of repetition of solo kata in the dojo. I have students repeat the kata simply in order to learn the sequence in the first place. Then I periodically ask them to demonstrate a kata so that I can provide feedback in order to refine finer (and progressively finer) points. But the bulk of their kata practice should be at home. When you’re in the dojo and have training partners to hand you should primarily train with a partner!

    But as John indicates, students typically don’t put in sufficient home practice. And it shows. Those that do put in the time at home then don’t need to spend so much time on solo practice in the dojo and can spend more time training with a partner. They also tend to get more out of partner training if it involves movements that they’ve already practiced thoroughly in kata. So they not only get more hands on time but they’re better able to make use of that time.

  11. monkeywrench

    monkeywrench Valued Member

    Not only did he not speak Japanese, but the accent was completely made up. He sounded like a dude from California in his regular voice.

    I'll add a bit here on the usefulness of kata. Sorry if any of this is repeated.

    Kata can also be useful if worked at different speeds and with/without tension. Working kata slow can greatly improve your awareness of stances, load positions (which are really strikes useful for self defense situations...we worked these heavy last night), and targeting. Working kata fast works on your intensity and intent among other things.
    Working kata without tension at all can help develop your "soft" aspects like redirecting or deflecting. Working with tension is great for conditioning. Doing a kata with a good bit of tension is enough to wipe some people out!
  12. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Valued Member MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I like that even though you KNEW where this conversation was going, it still went there. :)
  13. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    Kata = choreographed (dead). Shadow boxing = spontaneous (alive). That's the critical difference right there. The range of techniques you use is irrelevant.

    We're not talking about what kata "can be used for", we're talking about kata as it is understood by 99% of karate clubs. It's quite obvious that Master Betty is talking about solo choreographed kata training, not live partner drills based on kata movements. If you incorporate parts of the kata in partner drills and what have you, fine, but that's not what people are criticising here. It's the rote rehearsal of a choreographed sequence that people criticise. So the fact that a tiny minority of instructors (such as yourself) do other drills and decide to call them "kata" is irrelevant to that critique. It would be like me buying a Jaguar XKR-S, sticking a Lada badge on it, and then saying "what do you mean Ladas are slow? Mine does 186mph!". If you accept that kata training means, to most karateka, rote rehearsal of a choreographed sequence, then Master Betty's criticisms are valid.

    As for the "correct" interpretation of katas, HAOV training cannot be a more realistic way to judge that than full contact sparring if most karate clubs don't actually do that either.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2011
  14. Osu,

    I pity those of you that never had an instructor that made the kata come alive... :)

  15. Mike Flanagan

    Mike Flanagan Valued Member

    Personally I don't view kata as shadow boxing. Its primarily practising mechanical principles. Not so different really to how a boxer might practice individual techniques. So its no more dead than a boxer practising his jab. Its just practice of the core movements of your chosen discipline.

    Sadly, I can't argue with that. It is true for the vast majority of karate clubs, not forgetting other arts that practice kata in the same way. But that's not really a criticism of kata, its a reflection of the way that karate is practised by most practitioners. Kata's just a tool. If a carpenter doesn't know how to use his hammer properly, don't blame the hammer, blame the carpenter!

  16. monkeywrench

    monkeywrench Valued Member

    My post two above your addresses a good bit of what you mention here. I can provide more detail if you like.

Share This Page