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FinalLegion
5/29/2014 9:59pm,
In my very limited MA experience, I've noticed-and I could be quite wrong here-that most striking arts use forms/kata as a training tool.

I've always wondered: do grappling arts have forms or kata? Are there striking MAs that don't teach forms/kata? Are forms/kata as prevalent in MAs as they seem to me?

ghost55
5/29/2014 10:30pm,
Judo has kata.

Permalost
5/29/2014 10:57pm,
Boxing and muay thai don't really have katas. Yeah, I know there's kata type muay boran like in Ong Bak, but I'd say a small minority of fighting gyms do that stuff. People will argue that combinations are kata, I'm one to disagree that four moves chained together on the bag is the same as doing 50 synchronized stylized steps in the air. Some karate styles put less emphasis on kata in favor of striking other people (kyokushin) or striking inanimate objects for conditioning (uechi).

As mentioned, judo has kata. These are 2 person drills (as most grappling "kata" will be) where you toss each other around. Japanese jujutsu and aikido certainly have kata, and they might be considered grappling arts, but they're 2 person drills. Scott Sonnen's grappler's toolbox has a lot of squirming around on the mat solo drills that might be considered like solo grappling kata.

I feel that the guys who are always insisting that bagwork and push ups and bunkai drills are all just kata, are kata appologists who are overemphasizing the value of kata by saying its things that it isn't. I believe part of this comes from insecurity from those who want to feel like accomplished fighters when really they're accomplished form practitioners.

Krijgsman
5/30/2014 1:58am,
I'd argue that kata is a tool and a product of a particular cultural context. That's part of why it is found in Asian martial arts more readily than Western. The Asian martial arts created kata as a record of technique and a style of drilling. Western martial arts has manuals of technique all the way back to the Renaissance (possibly earlier). Different cultures using different methods of passing knowledge. And those things are great to learn as long as you keep doing the important live drilling and sparring. They don't teach the timing, pacing, rhythm or range that live drilling and sparring do.

goodlun
5/30/2014 3:25am,
Sort of kind of but not really.
BJJ does have drills that can be done by oneself. You can sort of think of them as kata like.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXjP50SOwK4

Resonance10
5/30/2014 5:29am,
I'd argue that kata is a tool and a product of a particular cultural context. That's part of why it is found in Asian martial arts more readily than Western. The Asian martial arts created kata as a record of technique and a style of drilling. Western martial arts has manuals of technique all the way back to the Renaissance (possibly earlier). Different cultures using different methods of passing knowledge. And those things are great to learn as long as you keep doing the important live drilling and sparring. They don't teach the timing, pacing, rhythm or range that live drilling and sparring do.

Plenty of manuals in non western styles. Same/very similar methods I would argue.


Posted by Permalost
People will argue that combinations are kata, I'm one to disagree that four moves chained together on the bag is the same as doing 50 synchronized stylized steps in the air.

Agree with this but would say if you remove the bag and 'stylized' the difference is moot.

MMAd MMAx
5/30/2014 8:24am,
In Seido-Juku Karate we have many kata's and a huge syllabus that doesn't appear to stop at any Dan grade. A lot of our Kata's are similar to Kyokushin.

If anything it's used to drill techniques and for fitness. Sometimes we would do a kata and on each blocking technique we would perhaps do a small set of press-ups (1-5+ or double-up) and on each strike we would do sit-ups. So if your Kata has 21+ steps it can get pretty tiring.
By studying Bunkai (Studying the application of Kata, I may be wrong on the term) you're supposed to learn how to use aspects of a kata in a 'situation'. I find some of it interesting (some unlikely) and in general it's supposed to be a kind of manual that's been handed down - some of the translations may have gotten lost.
Our instructor's would make us do it to see our level of concentration, fitness and confidence (i.e. does the student rush it to get it over and done with, are their stances low enough, has the student learnt the correct set of techniques, etc..)

Some competitors will compete in Kata competitions.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiiznDpoapQ

We also drill Kihon-Kumite. This is when two of you 'perform' a fight with set techniques, you each know what's coming and you're supposed to go at each other harder and faster as you become more comfortable with it - I have found some of these techniques useful when sparring (Kumite).

I have also been attending Judo at least once/twice a week. I have asked one of the Sensei's there about Kata and he said that there is some "but I just can't be arsed to learn it".

Hope this helps =)

Ming Loyalist
5/30/2014 8:34am,
as usual there's a fair amount of language based misunderstanding as well. in japanese, the term "kata" can refer to many types of practice, including what we are talking about as "kata" in this thread, but also some types of compliant partner drills and solo practice.

as japanese arts spread around the world, more restrictive ideas about the meanings of "kata" and "randori" were developed by instructors who were not native japanese speakers with a prejudice based on how their sensei had used the term in their practice.

an example of this would be a judoka who thinks that aikido randori is "not real randori." in his experience, it's not, as it doesn't look/feel like any judo randori that he has seen, but in fact it is absolutely still randori in an aikido context.

Mor Sao
5/30/2014 9:21am,
The word itself, Kata in Japanese or Xing in Chinese (形) means form, shape, appear, look, contrast.

You are talking about shapes, forms, ways of moving the body.

Everything can be looked at as form.

Concepts are taught within forms, and sometimes you have to figure them out. Others are easy to see.

But people latch on too forms and think they are the Holy Grail when they are just another tool to learn how to move and react and act.

NeilG
5/30/2014 9:28am,
I have also been attending Judo at least once/twice a week. I have asked one of the Sensei's there about Kata and he said that there is some "but I just can't be arsed to learn it".
Most judo federations require that you demonstrate kata at dan gradings. Therefore I should hope your sensei was arsed to learn it at some point, as you will also be required to learn it if you continue.

Krijgsman
5/30/2014 10:01am,
Plenty of manuals in non western styles. Same/very similar methods I would argue.




Of course. I am sure there are things that resemble kata in Western martial arts as well (broadsword cutting sequences come to mind). I was just making a sweeping generalization in an attempt to make the point that kata is a tool and not inherently good or bad but rather part of a larger system of teaching combat.

BKR
5/30/2014 11:17am,
What Ming said...

Kata in a judo context is simply prearranged practice, be it solo or in pairs. Judo has only one "formal" solo kata, and it's rarely practiced and probably even more rarely understood (I don't do it and until a couple of years ago never had done it).

In judo, there are training methods. Kata, randori, lecture, and question and answer. That's right, lecture and question and answer...judo was supposed to be a "complete" education method so included something other than physical exercise.

Kata technically is any sort of per-arranged practice, where both participants know what is going to happen ahead of time. Randori is the opposite. Of course, you can blend the two together as well/hybridize them. Both are useful.

BKR
5/30/2014 11:19am,
I'd argue that kata is a tool and a product of a particular cultural context. That's part of why it is found in Asian martial arts more readily than Western. The Asian martial arts created kata as a record of technique and a style of drilling. Western martial arts has manuals of technique all the way back to the Renaissance (possibly earlier). Different cultures using different methods of passing knowledge. And those things are great to learn as long as you keep doing the important live drilling and sparring. They don't teach the timing, pacing, rhythm or range that live drilling and sparring do.

I'd have to disagree a bit with your last sentence. More accurate to say not all kata do so. Part of the problem is how kata are used, in Judo at least, as more of a demonstration rather than a training tool.

I have limited exposure to koryu arts, however, from what I witnessed timing, combative spacing etc are addressed pretty thoroughly via kata.

Tetsumusha
5/30/2014 11:25am,
Yes, kata are everywhere in Asian martial arts. Despite what many people seem to think, Okinawan arts, Southeast Asian arts, and Chinese arts have a quite clear understanding that forms were developed as a way of practicing partner drills when you don't have a partner. Unfortunately there have been many things, including the Japanization of Okinawa, WW2, and the Wushu movement in China, which have caused a major loss in knowledge of what those drills actually were. This means that we have to piece together what is still known, and try to work out what has been forgotten.

Could we just work the drills and techniques we still know, and drop the kata? Sure, but then we would be losing a piece of history that also serves as an exploratory tool. Even though we may know an application for certain movements, we can still explore different ways of using the same/similar movements. It keeps you actively engaged in your art, and constantly trying to find better ways to do things. That analysis (which is what "bunkai" actually means, by the way) also serves as a way to potentially re-discover the drills and techniques that have been lost, so the system can be restored. I thoroughly enjoy this process, and so I will continue to practice and analyze my kata.

All that said, I believe that if you do kata just for exercise/balance/meditation (as is often advocated by Japanese stylists), then you're wasting your time. You're better off just drilling and sparring, and working your drills and combinations in the air will be your kata.

tl;dr - Kata can be useful if you want them to be. If you don't want to study them, then don't do them.

Permalost
5/30/2014 11:50am,
In FMA we call them "sayaw" which means dance. The ones in my system are very structured and progressive, so once you learn one the next one is basically a more complex version of the same one. Some arts have forms that are totally different from each other and to me seem like a random mishmash of various moves (granted the more one trains in them the more sense they seem to make).

There's a 2 person FMA flow drill called carenza (or karenza) where one person methodically feeds attacks while the other evades and counters, all to the beat of drums (and/or kulintangs). One of the things I really like about it is that it progresses from a by-the-numbers approach (carenza de numero) where the attacks are predetermined, to a freestyle approach where the attacks are at random (carenza libre). I am much more amicable towards forms when they progress into a less structured 2 person flow once the basics are achieved. The randomness more closely mimics fighting and is just a lot more fun IMHO. Carenza is also used to describe what's basically shadowboxing with weapons, when done as a solo drill. All of the carenza I can find on Youtube seems to be the 1 person solo stuff.

Krijgsman
5/30/2014 1:59pm,
I'd have to disagree a bit with your last sentence. More accurate to say not all kata do so. Part of the problem is how kata are used, in Judo at least, as more of a demonstration rather than a training tool.

I have limited exposure to koryu arts, however, from what I witnessed timing, combative spacing etc are addressed pretty thoroughly via kata.

Good point. I guess my first thought was how little application of my crappy TKD kata was to actual sparring. And good point about Judo kata. I haven't done a huge amount of them yet but I think they have helped me at least with the mechanics of throws.