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G95champ
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 29 Mar 2002
Posts: 3116
Location: Gilbert WV, USA
Styles: Shotokan Karate (FSKA)

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 9:15 am    Post subject: Kata: the Fundamental Element of Martial Arts Reply with quote

There has been much debate in recent history over the usage of Kata as a modern training took in the Martial Arts. In this article I will attempt to justify the importance of Kata not only to Karate, but to Martial Arts as a whole. Kate is the fundamental training method that can used by anyone at any time at any age and with as much individual freedom as one wishes to use. Therefore, making the Martial Arts an Art and not a Science.

Lets look at traditional Kata as taught in many of the traditional dojo’s. This is where many people see Kata as out dated and not of any major value in modern society. With that said I will make the argument now that Kata is more important in modern society than it ever was in pre-World War II society. Why you ask? In modern society hard-core training like they did 100 years ago is not possible. Many things factor into this such as lack of time, work, laws, and simply the fact you can’t afford to run students off by doing full contact sparring every class. What Kata gives Karate students is a way to fight without fighting, just as Bruce Lee said, “A way without way.” From my personal findings most people who attack Kata are non-karate stylists. Meaning they have never been taught the meaning and importance of forms. Anyone can memorize a set number of moves and put them together and call it a Kata but only a true Martial Artist can examine and break down those moves to find another way or meaning behind them. Kata is where the Martial Arts allow one to grow.

Unlike sparring you do not need anyone but yourself to do Kata. Kata can be done in a dojo, in your bedroom, outside or in your mind without actually moving. I can not recall the countless times I laid in bed or set in class thinking of how to prefect a combination in any given form. Questions such as: “Why did Funakoshi choose a back-fist over a punch?” or “What was he trying to tell me when he used a back stance with this hand motion?” Kata allows us to ask why and come to many of our own answers. There is no right and wrong there is only the TAO, or the way. Each of us must find our own way and Kata practice allows us to do that. When I do any from I can choose to do it slow and focus on techniques or I can speed it up and focus on my cardio training. All at the same time I am working many of my basic techniques while getting combination practice that I would get while sparring but now I am not getting hit.

Today many of the Mixed Martial Arts Community will attack Kata and say it is useless and outdated. What many of them fail to realize is that not all of us are training to fight. People participate in Martial Arts for many reasons: self-defense, exercise, social group, relaxation and yes: learning to fight. However, very few of us will ever dawn the gloves or step into the Octagon for a UFC. I completely understand if a person is training to become a great fighter they can easily overlook the importance Kata plays in their Martial Arts development. The problem here lies in the persons search for the quick and simple answer. For a true Martial Artist we know there is nothing simple about it and if you advance quickly then there is something to be said for your training methods but that is another article. So the question you are asking is does Kata make one a great fighter? The answer is it depends on that person. The question I am asking is does one have to be a great fighter to be a great Martial Artist? The answer to that is no! Although full contact fighters are grouped into Martial Arts they are not Martial Artists. Why? Because Art means it is personal. My Martial Art is different than yours regardless of our styles. Fighting is a science. Ask any boxer about the sweet science. I understand that people can have different styles of fighting and want to call it their own Art. However the human body can only do so many things. We only have 2 arms and 2 legs and they can only bend in one direction. So there is no room for expression in fighting, because we are all the same. However when you look at Kata you bring in the mind and that allows each of us to grow in our own way, thus making us Martial Artists.

Kata is a love hate relationship for most of us. Either you like it or you don’t. In my personal findings those who like it tend to understand its purpose. Those who dislike it only view it as a fixed pattern they must memorize for their next belt. Much too often as teachers we let students by with just memorizing the motions. This leads to low quality Black Belts down the road. Because they only focus on the physical and overlook the mental and spiritual aspects that are related to the Martial Arts. Just as I was making the point above when the mind enters into your training you develop the mental and spiritual aspect of Martial Arts. The physical part alone means you are a Martial Scientist. Art just like religion means we add the mental and spiritual aspect to our training. These two statements alone open up a can of worms that many have debated for years: the question of science vs. religion. Well let me sum it up this way. Both can lead to answers the only difference is religion makes it more personal, just as Kata makes Martial Arts more personal.

Kata can be done by anyone at any age at any time. This makes the Martial Arts one of the few exercises or hobbies that all of us can take part in. We don’t need a partner, we don’t even need a teacher (develop you own Kata). You defiantly don’t need a dojo or a gi. All you need is an open mind and willingness to learn. Kata is the fundamental aspect to any and all Martial Arts. Although one doesn’t have to excel in it to be a great fighter, one will need to spend some time shadow boxing. Or is that Kata, too?
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ninjanurse
KF VIP

Joined: 13 Feb 2003
Posts: 6154
Location: Upstate NY
Styles: TKD;Shotokan;JuJitsu;Tai Ji

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well said. Kata is so much more than a bunch of punches and kicks put together in a pattern. They are full of important lessons and treasures that can take a lifetime to uncover and learn.


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G95champ
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 29 Mar 2002
Posts: 3116
Location: Gilbert WV, USA
Styles: Shotokan Karate (FSKA)

PostPosted: Wed Jun 11, 2003 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Been a while since I read that.
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aes
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 24 Sep 2002
Posts: 374
Location: Southern Ontario, Canada
Styles: Okinawan Shorin-ryu Karate

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2003 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree, well said.
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Killer Miller
Brown Belt
Brown Belt

Joined: 29 Nov 2002
Posts: 732
Location: California
Styles: JKA Shotokan

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2003 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well written article, and much of what is written is true. However, I don't feel that your article truly reflected the importance and concept of the art of kata. Yes, it is personal. Yes, you train on your own. Yes, you develop techniques. But, it is primarily a tool for "vision." When you train, practise, perform kata, you must execute techniques with the same speed, perfection of technique, strength, and intent to commit injury as if you are actually defending yourself in a fight, or if you were actually sparring in competition. Training kata with a vision any less than this is not being truthful to yourself in terms of developing body mechanics and the mind to handle such a situation... You must visualize your fight/competitor through the safety of Kata!

- Killer -
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G95champ
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 29 Mar 2002
Posts: 3116
Location: Gilbert WV, USA
Styles: Shotokan Karate (FSKA)

PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2003 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with that.
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Shotokan_Fighter
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 16 Feb 2003
Posts: 393
Location: Huron,SD
Styles: Shotokan Karate 4 life

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2003 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i agree with everything you said
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"When I fight, I fight with my heart,and soul. My heart, and soul is Shotokan Karate."

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"karate has to come natural in a fight, if you have to think about using karate in a fight, you will loose the fight"

3rd kyu brown belt - shotokan karate
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Guitar_lover
Yellow Belt
Yellow Belt

Joined: 23 May 2003
Posts: 85
Location: uk
Styles: ex-Karate and Wing Chun Kung Fu

PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2003 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very well done, i enjoyed reading it?
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John G
Green Belt
Green Belt

Joined: 02 Jun 2002
Posts: 426
Location: Western Australia
Styles: ITF Taekwon-Do, Wing Chun

PostPosted: Thu Jul 03, 2003 1:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well written G95champ ,

Like someone once wrote 'Kata is like an onion, so many tears so many layers, but ahh the flavour'

..
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III Dan, ITF Taekwon-Do
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Karateka
Red Belt
Red Belt

Joined: 22 Jun 2001
Posts: 786
Location: North Vancouver, Canada

PostPosted: Wed Jul 16, 2003 12:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I did my last karate class; our Sensei, instead of doing the basic warm up of stretches and pushups, decided that we would run through some basic kata. Man, I sweat more doing that than I did regularly. I find Kata to be nothing like I have ever experienced before. True, for people who want to become great tournament fighters, it can seem outdated, and you can learn Karate techniques without kata. I use the kata to calm my mind, which is always necessary in self defence, because if you get angry, you lose control. Also, you can use the kata to set up scenarios in which people may come and attack you on the street. Finally, a lot of people who dislike Kata are people who have not been taught the meaning behind the movement, or Bunkai. This is fundamental in realising the true nature of how Karate works. In my opinion, of course.
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