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  1. SuperGuido is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/29/2005 10:55am


     Style: BJJ

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by ojgsxr6
    TekkaMaki, there are no hidden secrets in kata. Every technique or concept that makes up a style should be taught and walked throught step by step if necessary. There is no reason to search kata for chokes, sprawls, etc. They should be taught and drilled whether solo or with a partner.
    Even in Enshin they pimp the kata, saying it's a "fighting kata" or that techniques in kata are done as they would be done in real life. But it still remains that kata has been relgated soley to a grading requirment.
    I agree with you.

    BUT

    This takes into account that a knowledgeable, informed instructor is leading the class.

    What happens when you get an instructor that focuses purely on competition circuits and sparring techniques? Or an instructor that, while very good, wasn't taught all the applications within a kata? What if your instructor came from a line of "Sport Karate" instructors that taught kata PURELY for tournament grading?

    The applications get lost, confused, misinterpreted...or otherwise screwed up. A student that learned under one of these instructors is essentially **** out of luck, right?

    Not necessarily. If the kata was taught completely and without modification...then a student can conceivably "figure out the puzzle" on their own.

    Kind of like getting lemons and making lemonade, you could...in theory..."fix" your training and practice the application on your own after discovery.

    In addition, years of practicing the kata will make the technique more familiar than learning it from scratch.

    For instance, in the example I gave of Heian Shodan, EVERY student of traditional karate is schooled in how to throw a jodan barai. Yet...how often do we throw high blocks in sparring? Almost never...but, all that kata and high blocking creates a powerful "forearm strike", and a simple collar grab turns the jodan barai into a cross choke...moves that are creepy familiar even though the karate instructor never said, "Now this is how you do a cross choke".

    Of course, let state right now that KATA APPLICATION DOES NOT REMOVE THE NECESSITY OF ALIVE, RESISTANT TECHNIQUE TRAINING.

    Let me repeat.

    KATA APPLICATION DOES NOT REMOVE THE NECESSITY OF ALIVE, RESISTANT TECHNIQUE TRAINING

    Still...for those of us that actually like Kata, disecting and analyzing them can be a lot of fun. In fact, I was obsessively analyzing the Heian Series even while I was training in BJJ and MT...and I currently continue to do so as well.

    So...since everyone should know this kata...what type of bunkai could be found in Heian Nidan? ((pssst...highlight for spoiler if you don't remember the kata))

  2. hl1978 is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/29/2005 3:07pm


     Style: Aunkai

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by sweats
    I spent 13 years doing Shotokan and it's my opinion that katas are essentially useless. Of course my experience is limited to Shotokan and similar styles. I've trained with people who did Tang Soo Do, Kung Fu (yeah, I know it's not the correct term but they used it), Tae Kwon Do, etc., and I hold the same opinion about their forms. I feel that students, even beginners, are better served drilling techniques in isolation and quickly moving into dynamic environments. I don't buy into the whole "this teaches you correct form" argument. Yes, you do need to drill techniques in isolation so that people know what is supposed to be happening, such as how the hips are supposed to rotate where your feet should be etc. However, once basic control of the technique has been achieved, you need to learn how to apply it. Application practice doesn't have to be full contact sparring on your first day, but why not take out some pads and try that technique as someone moves the pad around without a pre-arranged sequence?

    As someone said before, you don't actually use the retracting arm when you're sparring or fighting. So why practice it? Train for what you'll actually use. I've never seen any non-laughable application for many of the techniques that appear in Shotokan kata. Many positions put you with a weak base and in a vulnerable orientation to your opponent (especially if that backfist to his sternum didn't take him out). If you know Baisaidai, you know what I'm talking about. Some of the off-balancing arguments that started this thread are interesting, but if you want grappling training most karate schools are not the place to go. If it's not directly applicable, I don't see why it should be done. If it's just for traditionalist purposes, fine, but I think it should be made very clear that it's done only for "preserving the heritage" and should by no means be mandatory in any serious training curriculum.

    I anxiously await the shitstorm of criticism and derision.

    Kata can be trained in lots of different ways. I would say it is far from useless, though I am more than happy to debate how much time should be spend on kata vs other drills/sparring.

    If all one does is kata on their own, there are certainly some usefull elements besides what you mentioned. Its good for learning some combinations, and even how to react in some rather specific situations (i encountered one while sparring a few years back and out of knowwhere found myself doing a rather complex combination out of seisan kata (a kata in isshinryu and shorin-ryu).

    When I teach a kata, i first go over the basic movements, then move it on to partner pratice. Basically pre-arranged sparring. Its great for a beginning student to really get their blocks down and timing down, rather than flailing about while sparring. As for your comments about doing the same sequence against pads, when it comes to blocking, I feel it is better to block against a partners body to really get a feel for the technique more than a pad. Plus it provides a conditioning aspect for both practicitioners.

    Going really going into the bunkai part of kata is something I found interesting. One can be as creative as they want when interpreting a technique, as is certinly a great way to challenge your students by thinking about what is going on here with a move, and what other approcahes they could use. There really is no one correct answer when training in this manner. Its a great enviroment for doing all sorts of "what ifs?" A lot of people don't really see the standup grappling moves found in the kata untill they train in this manner (since they don't train with a partner so they aren't readily obvious), nor do they really seem to understand what they are doing, or what techniques they are really blocking and countering against.

    As for standup grappling within kata, the kata are great for mixing both the striking and grappling at the same time, rather than training them separately and then trying to integrate them together later on. As mentioned earlier, doing some pre-arranged sparring first, within a partner kata setting, prior to doing free sparring, has in my experience reduced peoples tendency to flail about when they spar by some measure.

    Perhaps because the style in which I train utilizes a lot of upright, more natural stances, I can see a lot of the moves being more directly applicable than training in deep stances for conditiioining and learning body mechanics (which are admittidly very important as well).

    I have trained at various places which took different approcahes to kata, but the best ones where the places that trained kata with partners and with instructors who really understood the bunkai.
  3. sweats is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/29/2005 3:43pm


     Style: Shotokan & BJJ

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by hl1978
    Kata can be trained in lots of different ways. I would say it is far from useless, though I am more than happy to debate how much time should be spend on kata vs other drills/sparring.

    If all one does is kata on their own, there are certainly some usefull elements besides what you mentioned. Its good for learning some combinations, and even how to react in some rather specific situations (i encountered one while sparring a few years back and out of knowwhere found myself doing a rather complex combination out of seisan kata (a kata in isshinryu and shorin-ryu).

    When I teach a kata, i first go over the basic movements, then move it on to partner pratice. Basically pre-arranged sparring. Its great for a beginning student to really get their blocks down and timing down, rather than flailing about while sparring. As for your comments about doing the same sequence against pads, when it comes to blocking, I feel it is better to block against a partners body to really get a feel for the technique more than a pad. Plus it provides a conditioning aspect for both practicitioners.

    Going really going into the bunkai part of kata is something I found interesting. One can be as creative as they want when interpreting a technique, as is certinly a great way to challenge your students by thinking about what is going on here with a move, and what other approcahes they could use. There really is no one correct answer when training in this manner. Its a great enviroment for doing all sorts of "what ifs?" A lot of people don't really see the standup grappling moves found in the kata untill they train in this manner (since they don't train with a partner so they aren't readily obvious), nor do they really seem to understand what they are doing, or what techniques they are really blocking and countering against.

    As for standup grappling within kata, the kata are great for mixing both the striking and grappling at the same time, rather than training them separately and then trying to integrate them together later on. As mentioned earlier, doing some pre-arranged sparring first, within a partner kata setting, prior to doing free sparring, has in my experience reduced peoples tendency to flail about when they spar by some measure.

    Perhaps because the style in which I train utilizes a lot of upright, more natural stances, I can see a lot of the moves being more directly applicable than training in deep stances for conditiioining and learning body mechanics (which are admittidly very important as well).

    I have trained at various places which took different approcahes to kata, but the best ones where the places that trained kata with partners and with instructors who really understood the bunkai.

    Sorry, but I still beg to differ. If you have to think for a very long time about how to apply a certain movement from the kata, odds are it's fairly complicated. As such, I doubt it would be very applicable under high pressure circumstances. As far as drilling blocks go, using a block when the attack is pre-arranged is quite easy. You can anticipate where the attack is coming from and what it will be. It does require timing, but it's not very difficult. If you want to see what I'm talking about, try this simple exercise with your students. The designated attacker will attack with only a stepping punch. However, they get to randomly choose between attacking the face level and attacking the stomach level. Even at 50-75% speed, I'll wager you'll be surprised at how often your students miss the block because they anticipated a different attack.

    You're right, kata may teach you a pre-arranged response to a "rather specific" situation, but good luck waiting for that "rather specific" situation and remembering that pre-arranged response when a 6'4'' drunken redneck starts swinging because he thinks you were checking out his woman. Maybe, and I emphasize the qualifier maybe, there are unorthodox applications of kata that you could decifer and then diligently practice in sparring so that you could use them. However, that is probably the least efficient way to learn possible. You could spent hours contemplating kata, or you could have someone show you high percentage moves and then drill those. Which way do you think you'd progress faster? I prefer the latter approach.

    If you think kata is worthwhile, that's fine and it's your prerogative to practice it, but personally, I'd rather focus my training elsewhere.
  4. hl1978 is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/29/2005 4:04pm


     Style: Aunkai

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by sweats
    Sorry, but I still beg to differ. If you have to think for a very long time about how to apply a certain movement from the kata, odds are it's fairly complicated. As such, I doubt it would be very applicable under high pressure circumstances. As far as drilling blocks go, using a block when the attack is pre-arranged is quite easy. You can anticipate where the attack is coming from and what it will be. It does require timing, but it's not very difficult. If you want to see what I'm talking about, try this simple exercise with your students. The designated attacker will attack with only a stepping punch. However, they get to randomly choose between attacking the face level and attacking the stomach level. Even at 50-75% speed, I'll wager you'll be surprised at how often your students miss the block because they anticipated a different attack.

    You're right, kata may teach you a pre-arranged response to a "rather specific" situation, but good luck waiting for that "rather specific" situation and remembering that pre-arranged response when a 6'4'' drunken redneck starts swinging because he thinks you were checking out his woman. Maybe, and I emphasize the qualifier maybe, there are unorthodox applications of kata that you could decifer and then diligently practice in sparring so that you could use them. However, that is probably the least efficient way to learn possible. You could spent hours contemplating kata, or you could have someone show you high percentage moves and then drill those. Which way do you think you'd progress faster? I prefer the latter approach.

    If you think kata is worthwhile, that's fine and it's your prerogative to practice it, but personally, I'd rather focus my training elsewhere.

    I currently use two very simliar drills to the one you proposed.

    As for the situtatoin that occured for me, i didnt think, "oh yeah, now its time for this sequence of techniques." I just found myself doing it, and only afterwards realized that I had done exactly that set of techniques.

    What about my contention that it is a great environment for bringing together both striking and stand up grappling rather than training the two elements sepratly? I don't find many schools train this way, but it is how I teach, and how I had originally learned.

    Just two quick questions, when you were practicing shotokan, did you learn/spend much time on bunkai? In my own experience, I have found that most schools spend little time on it, and just do solo kata practice, rather than the partner use that bunkai requires.

    How much time of your class was spent training kata?

    Now what percentage of training time should be dedicated to kata, if you are inclined to train kata? For me its about 15-20% of class time, about the same as basics and warmup put together (15-20%), the other 60-70% used for the topic of the night, some combnination of drills, sparring, breakfalls, weapons, padwork etc. If one spends 60% of the time on solo kata, I can see it being of less value.

    Oh I agree entirely that it is a good idea to work on a few high percentage moves and that is the best way to get good quick (a point echoed often on bullshido, but entirely ignores the following:). The problem I see, is how do you advance beyond that point? Thats where I see the value of knowledge gained from kata, especially when supplemented by trying those techniques during free sparring.
    Last edited by hl1978; 12/29/2005 4:09pm at .
  5. sweats is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/29/2005 4:36pm


     Style: Shotokan & BJJ

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by hl1978
    I currently use two very simliar drills to the one you proposed.

    As for the situtatoin that occured for me, i didnt think, "oh yeah, now its time for this sequence of techniques." I just found myself doing it, and only afterwards realized that I had done exactly that set of techniques.

    What about my contention that it is a great environment for bringing together both striking and stand up grappling rather than training the two elements sepratly? I don't find many schools train this way, but it is how I teach, and how I had originally learned.

    Just two quick questions, when you were practicing shotokan, did you learn/spend much time on bunkai? In my own experience, I have found that most schools spend little time on it, and just do solo kata practice, rather than the partner use that bunkai requires.

    How much time of your class was spent training kata?

    Now what percentage of training time should be dedicated to kata, if you are inclined to train kata? For me its about 15-20% of class time, about the same as basics and warmup put together (15-20%), the other 60-70% used for the topic of the night, some combnination of drills, sparring, breakfalls, weapons, padwork etc. If one spends 60% of the time on solo kata, I can see it being of less value.

    Oh I agree entirely that it is a good idea to work on a few high percentage moves and that is the best way to get good quick (a point echoed often on bullshido, but entirely ignores the following:). The problem I see, is how do you advance beyond that point? Thats where I see the value of knowledge gained from kata, especially when supplemented by trying those techniques during free sparring.
    As far as training striking and stand-up grappling together, I say train them in a live sparring environment. You strike and if you clinch, you keep going, no one is going to separate you.

    When I did Shotokan, we spent a lot of time on bunkai. Several of my instructors always asked, what are you doing in that kata? What's that move mean? Why did you just do that? Believe me, bunkai was sufficiently harped upon. We spent probably about 30-40% of our time on kata in any given week.

    As per high percentage moves, after you've gotten a few high percentage moves down in say striking, you can learn some high percentage moves in standing grappling, after that you can learn some high percentage groundfighting moves, after that you can learn some high percentage stickfighting moves, etc. There are so many different ranges and ways of fighting that there is always somewhere else to go. You can spend years trying to make that reverse punch more perfect or maybe you learn some brand new stuff about fighting on the ground. It's all about being well-rounded. Yes, everyone has their natural inclinations and talents, but to go into Bullshido gospel here, you can't be uni-dimensional.

    You could spend your whole life analyzing one kata and trying to come up with every application imaginable, but that wouldn't be a good investment of your time.
  6. Odacon is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/29/2005 5:05pm

    Join us... or die
     Style: Bits and pieces

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    If the bunkai is too complicated to apply in live drills then it doesn't work. Period. If your being taught long drawn out techniques then your being taught rubbish.
  7. TekkaMaki is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/29/2005 7:06pm

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     Style: Jiu Jitsu

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by ojgsxr6
    TekkaMaki, there are no hidden secrets in kata. Every technique or concept that makes up a style should be taught and walked throught step by step if necessary. There is no reason to search kata for chokes, sprawls, etc. They should be taught and drilled whether solo or with a partner.
    Even in Enshin they pimp the kata, saying it's a "fighting kata" or that techniques in kata are done as they would be done in real life. But it still remains that kata has been relgated soley to a grading requirment.
    The issue here is that most instructors DO NOT explain every technique or concept that makes up the style. They just show the kata and consider it done. They don't explain it.

    I recall reading a book about kata which explained that they were supposed to be a way of practicing various techniques on one's own to develop muslce memory and practice the form of a technique without a partner. I have also heard many times about Bunkai, or the actual applications of the techniques within the kata that are supposed to make them applicable to fighting or SD.

    So, is "bunkai" just something that karate instructors made up to add value to their kata, or is there some real validity to it? If so, the bunkai seems to be left out of most karate curricula, and that is a shame.
  8. eyebeams is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/30/2005 12:12am


     Style: Kickboxing/Grappling

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by TekkaMaki
    The issue here is that most instructors DO NOT explain every technique or concept that makes up the style. They just show the kata and consider it done. They don't explain it.

    I recall reading a book about kata which explained that they were supposed to be a way of practicing various techniques on one's own to develop muslce memory and practice the form of a technique without a partner. I have also heard many times about Bunkai, or the actual applications of the techniques within the kata that are supposed to make them applicable to fighting or SD.

    So, is "bunkai" just something that karate instructors made up to add value to their kata, or is there some real validity to it? If so, the bunkai seems to be left out of most karate curricula, and that is a shame.
    People practice too many kata. Back in the 19th and early 20th century, though, there was a shift in thinking because Okinawans were seriously concerned that Meiji reforms were going to wipe Okinawan MA out. You had guys learning dozens or hundreds of kata just to keep them around, instead of learning one or two kata from a single teacher. Taikyoku and the Pinan/Heian sets did not exist, so those are 5-6 kata that weren't even around until relatively recently. Funakoshi passed on a kata-heavy version of karate because he, too travelled to different teachers and was a kata collector. Motobu was more "traditional" in that he only emphasized one kata. He probably knew others but his "style" was naihanchi, and he probably got more out of it than most karateka get from a dozen other kata combined.

    Kata are ultimately a combination of many elements that we consider to be separate skills in a Western (and somewhat more training-savvy) context. They included conditioning, and example of movement principles in action and some intentionally stilted techniques. The techniques are the way they are for mnemonic reasons and to add physical challenge. Proper bunkai is the part of taking movements from kata, getting rid of the "stilted" elements and studying them as general strategies or specific tricks. There are problems in that our knowledge of the body has progressed to the point where he can isolate and train specific physiological attributes better than a kata can train several together. This is where I have to admit "unscientific" thinking though, in that I suspect that combined training adds a little extra something.

    You must spar with heavy contact to know how to produce bunkai. If you do not, you do not know how to move and cover and do not know how to make a bit of the kata extended from general fighting ability.

    The "kenpo" in my style is (supposedly) Okinawan. It was 5 years before I started training a full kata, and I haven't seen anything that says that this isn't better than training them concurrently.
  9. FredGarvinMP is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/30/2005 9:54am


     Style: Koei-Kan, Aikido

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by eyebeams
    People practice too many kata. Back in the 19th and early 20th century, though, there was a shift in thinking because Okinawans were seriously concerned that Meiji reforms were going to wipe Okinawan MA out. You had guys learning dozens or hundreds of kata just to keep them around, instead of learning one or two kata from a single teacher. Taikyoku and the Pinan/Heian sets did not exist, so those are 5-6 kata that weren't even around until relatively recently. Funakoshi passed on a kata-heavy version of karate because he, too travelled to different teachers and was a kata collector. Motobu was more "traditional" in that he only emphasized one kata. He probably knew others but his "style" was naihanchi, and he probably got more out of it than most karateka get from a dozen other kata combined.
    I think I can see where you are coming from on this. However, that does bring up questions in my mind. If no one has access to a sensei that is insightful enough to pull that much out of just a couple of katas, then wouldn't we be shortchanging ourselves by not trying to bring in more forms? I would think one's training would get pretty stagnant and lacking without a very in depth instruction. For example, our naihanchin series was broken down into three smaller katas, with heavy emphasis on that stance. No one needs to tell me that that stance is not a practical stance. So without someone with that kind of indepth knowledge, what is one to do but to try to glean more knowledge from different areas?

    Quote Originally Posted by eyebeams
    Kata are ultimately a combination of many elements that we consider to be separate skills in a Western (and somewhat more training-savvy) context. They included conditioning, and example of movement principles in action and some intentionally stilted techniques. The techniques are the way they are for mnemonic reasons and to add physical challenge. Proper bunkai is the part of taking movements from kata, getting rid of the "stilted" elements and studying them as general strategies or specific tricks. There are problems in that our knowledge of the body has progressed to the point where he can isolate and train specific physiological attributes better than a kata can train several together. This is where I have to admit "unscientific" thinking though, in that I suspect that combined training adds a little extra something.

    You must spar with heavy contact to know how to produce bunkai. If you do not, you do not know how to move and cover and do not know how to make a bit of the kata extended from general fighting ability.
    I wish I could have stated it that well myself. However, I am always a bit leary of too much emphasis on the practised form being ingrained as a type of way to approach self defense or fighting. Based on the last paragraph I think that you think that as well.

    One thing that hasn't been talked about in regards to kata is how the dojo has changed over the many years. I was watching a seminar tape done by Morohiro Saito sensei (Aikido) in which he was talking about why he had spent so much of his time creating his many forms (read 'katas') for the jo (bo) and boken. In his training with O-Sensei, his was a lot of one on one with him. He was given a technique and he practiced it. Very old school as one would suspect. Saito simply said that there is no way O-Sensei's way of teaching would work in larger class sizes like that. In the later years of O-Sensei, as the popularity of Aikido increased, his larger classes became lectures and demonstrations. The proliferation of the art had demanded new ways of teaching. Saito came up with his jo and boken series to allow teaching to the masses (so to speak). I don't think it is a very big leap to think the same has happened with other mainstream arts. I think that katas are meant to also help in this area.
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