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  1. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Resonance10 View Post
    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.

  2. #12
    BKR's Avatar
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    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.
    Falling for Judo since 1980

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  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krijgsman View Post
    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.
    Falling for Judo since 1980

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  4. #14

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    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.

  5. #15
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    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.

  6. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by BKR View Post
    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.

  7. #17
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    Wow...a lot of great answers so far and a plethora of information. I really appreciate the time that everyone has put in to answer the question of a beginner like myself.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krijgsman View Post
    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.
    Nage No Kata has some pretty deep lessons in it, not all of which I've ever understood or had shown to me. I do know that the longer I've done Judo, the more sense it makes. Not the be all and end all of Judo, but a useful part.

    I think Kano was trying to balance two "extremes" in training, randori and kata...random versus prearranged training methods. Kata definitely can impart a different mindset than randori, at least so I've noticed in myself. Doing the Goshin Jutsu with someone who is good at it, and really wants you to try to hit/grab them is pretty exhilarating and fun, same for Kime No Kata.

    Along your "mechanics" remark, over on Judoforum I recall a discussion of kata and it's uses. One historical aspect that a poster brought up was that once judo got popular and into the Japanese school system, there was a dearth of qualified instructors. The Nage No Kata was used as a sort of mnemonic for throwing, something that everyone could use or refer back to in training, regardless of their level of Judo.

    Anyway, if you are doing a prearranged drill with a partner, it's a type of kata training. I use them all the time when I teach Judo.
    Falling for Judo since 1980

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  9. #19
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    Interesting book here dealing with how kata informs everything the Japanese do. I haven't read it myself but I have a recommendation from one of my nisei friends along the lines of "nodding at every page".

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeilG View Post
    Interesting book here dealing with how kata informs everything the Japanese do. I haven't read it myself but I have a recommendation from one of my nisei friends along the lines of "nodding at every page".
    Well, there 'ya go, gentlemen.
    Falling for Judo since 1980

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