Articles

Kata Doesn’t Work In A Fight

Ann Steve

“If you want to learn how to fight, don’t study kata.  The only way to learn how to fight is to engage in the ‘real’ thing.”  

This opinion is often expressed by those who hold Karate in low regard.  Their opinion is often formed from movies, online videos, or some out of context training. The statement is as naïve as thinking that a boxer goes into a ring to fight with his skipping rope.

You could say that a martial artist is not a ‘fighter’ as ‘fight’ intimates a struggle between two people, a martial artist is a ‘peacekeeper’.  His function is to re-establish a peaceful environment through long and arduous training.

Peace is earned, if your mind and emotions are weak, you are more likely to cause violence or respond negatively to it.  People that have to respond to violence on a regular basis such as police officers and security personnel are taught to remain calm and to deal with a situation ‘appropriately’ to re-establish and keep the ‘Queens Peace’ and a martial artist’s response should be the same.

The problem with people that constantly create ‘aggressive and violent situations’ in which to train is that they are still not ‘real’ – you know it’s your mate acting, and if anything engenders fear of the ‘real’ thing, and makes people neurotic by focusing solely on ‘reality based’ training.

The paradox is that to deal with confrontation and dangerous situations of any kind you need to be calm and keep your wits about you; developing wisdom and strategies for all kinds of situations.  You also need to have a vigorous, sustainable health and fitness regimen; this is different from an athlete’s fitness, as they have to produce that extraordinary fitness for specific events, whereas martial artists need all round health and fitness to apply to different kinds of situations.

Is kata a good training tool to produce that fit, versatile and well controlled martial artist?

Traditionally kata and forms have a trinity of development.  That trinity is:

  •  Health
  • Skill
  • Application

Health
Kata teaches:

  • Postural alignment
  • Breathing technique
  • Mental clarity
  • Tension reduction
  • Fluid motion
  • Internal connection
  • Core strength
  • Connected movement
  • Body awareness
  • Energy movement

The mind/body/breath connection is a powerful one with kata like Sanchin dedicated to it.  The connected core strength of the body, coupled with postural alignment and mental clarity gives that rude health and natural strength that we all admire in a good martial artist and gives the adaptability to deal with changing situations.  The natural skeletal alignment and smooth, powerful myofascial movements prevents stiffness and unnatural strain on the body reducing injury and problems later in life.  The health side of kata training gives a yogic kind of health but not in a static way, it’s in movement and within combative strategies.  In old age the martial artist also maintains an excellent training method to assist in the healthy enjoyment of life and extended longevity.

Skill
A martial artist has to learn the basic fundamentals of movement to encourage good health and then gradually chain those together into the fluid motion of martial technique.  The strategies of the art have to be employed within those techniques and these have to be mastered to a reasonable level before being put into natural combinations and practiced two-man drills.  When put into combination, the beginning and end of each technique changes to accommodate the former and subsequent move.  This requires an element of adaptability and the ability to ‘think on your feet’.

From the health training, a natural power will arise with the ability to utilise postural alignment, breath, mind, core strength, and internal connection and these should flow naturally through the strategies and technique within the connected movements.

In kata all this is taken into a more advanced form of training.  Different kata serve different purposes in training.  Some focus on the health aspects, some on power training, some are complete training systems and some are ‘filling in’ skills that may not be trained elsewhere in the system.

With an element of mastery over fundamental and basic technique, some combinations with different entry and exit to and from technique in fluid motion and basic application to the movements, it’s time to ‘up the ante’ in skill training.

Kata is specifically designed to enhance skill training, the combinations might not be what you would typically find ‘in a fight’ but they will train and enhance those combative skills in a way that takes the practitioner to a very advanced level that could not otherwise be achieved.

Notice how kata cover the entire range of body movements and how you move from high to low, from one direction in the most difficult way to another, how the powering of one technique is enhanced from the previous movement and then the motion can add power to the next (if you can move fluidly).  See how specific skills are categorized so the kata can act as a mnemonic reminder of the system.

When many kata were devised, most people were illiterate, there were few books, no DVD’s, no internet, not much travel, people communicated long distance by minstrels and storytellers, information was passed down through the generations in dances, songs and rhyming poetry so that it could be accurately remembered.

After 30 years of training I decided to try and invent a kata that summed up all my knowledge, when putting together all the strikes, blocks, locks, throws and dislocation techniques and strategies for entering, sticking, blending, redirecting, breaking down and destruction I discovered that the basic body skills and movements behind all of them came down to eight principle ideas, as long as these were rigorously practiced, they could be adapted into all the techniques.  This made me look at he existing kata with new eyes as I realized that I was ‘re-inventing the wheel’!

It is the skill training that is fundamental, the more advanced that training becomes – the more skilful and powerful the practitioner will be.

Application

By looking at kata through the equally important eyes of health and skill, the plethora of applications becomes apparent.  It’s like unraveling a knot, you examine the skills and see how they can be applied to striking, blocking, locking, throwing, dislocation, evasion and entering and you realize that what you have is a method of training a complete skill base that can be unraveled into a complete arsenal of techniques.

Even the ‘health’ kata is full of skills that are essential for three hundred and sixty degree self defence.  The ‘boxing’ applications of kata will not work properly without knowledge of the health and skill aspects as they permeate and empower every part of the application of technique.

The word bunkai means ‘to break down and explore’.  So when working on bunkai it is essential to understand the trinity of kata and examine each part to get to the ohyo (practical application).

The ohyo are the peacekeeping skills that enable an experienced practitioner to re-establish and keep the peace, even if the situation is life threatening.

Kata is an invaluable tool in training in Karate and will certainly help develop your skills to prevent you from having to ‘fight’ with anyone and will enable you to deal with violence and confrontation more skillfully.

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13 thoughts on “Kata Doesn’t Work In A Fight

  1. All I can say is that for those who don’t understand kata can they say kata doesn’t work in a fight. Many times I have used Kata in kumite and it live situations. You should practice Kata until it becomes you and you become the kata. Too much emphasis is on tournament kata than what kata was created for. OSU

    Like

    • jaiden Legacy says:

      Back in the 1800’s Sokon Matsumura was the kings bodyguard I don’t think for a minute that the king made him perform a kata he made him fight.

      Like

  2. Brian M. says:

    I know about bunkai, but what you fail to mention is that most teachers either don’t know it because they left their teachers too soon, or their teachers didn’t know it. Also, some kata have been altered for tournament purposes. They don’t know the ko-ryu, the aincent way, or original forms. In Okinawa, kata was a way to pass information from village to village without the occupying Japanese suspecting anything. Kara-te was designed to destroy the Samurai, which in.many cases it did. You also didn’t mention the 12 renzoukuken, which predate and influenced kata.

    Like

  3. davidhoyledavidhoyle105 says:

    Of course you can’t fight if you don’t train to fight. I did muay Thai, judo, and jujitsu for 3 years. All of those involve live action. Adrenilane and fear have to be controlled. Pain is conditioned out of you. If you think you’ll save your life by applying techniques you’ve only practiced without applying you’re wrong. In judo, we practice throws thousands of times. Throwing a dummy and a resisting aggressor are different. I’ve done both so I know. Any kata purist can’t say that. As for live action being acting, say that to my nearly broken nose I got sparring, or the black eye I gave a guy. We have guys who have beaten thugs on the street, so its not like there’s any debate we are effective.

    Like

  4. Stu Gray says:

    I’ve been a practitioner of karate for almost 40 years. I started with, and have continued with Shorin Ryu, a kata based system. I have notice that over the last 20+ years, the “hidden” and “implied” techniques” that were not generally taught ( whether they had been lost or just dropped ), have been rediscovered, and are now flourishing. Those techniques include locks, chokes, holds, and throws, thus demonstrating, that karate, though known primary as a stand-up art, was really one of the first “mixed” and “blended” systems, and contrary to some, is indeed a complete system. This article was a brilliant breakdown of the absolute importance of kata, and kata training. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Arakawa Tenshin, Shifu says:

      Early Chinese Martial Arts ( before Japanese change )
      ________________________________________________________

      During Ancient times, Chinese Masters were actually few in number. Traditions and Lineages were based on family members and outsiders were never taught the true Secrets of their Lineage Transmissions. Many of these ‘ Sifu ’ or ‘Sigung’ ( the Master or Teacher ) were illiterate themselves ; that is, from a stand point by today’s educational systems. Therefore, the Teachings of their Martial Art Lineage, were handed down from the Master, to only his chosen of all Students. This is the manner in which had been done for centuries. Virtually nothing was ever placed on paper or
      documented into historical accuracy. However, for others, some documented their Techniques by simple drawing but little has ever been discovered as Ancient text because many of these Transmissions have been destroyed over many centuries by brigands who looted and burned down many Temples.

      Today, there have been releases of Training Manuals by several that date back as for as the 1300-1600 hundreds CE. Of course, they are reprints from released copies or re-written copies that are just now being published. There is one particular publishing company ( not certain at this writing if it is in China or the West ) whose on-going project is to reprint Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals as they are discovered and make them available to those interested, in modestly priced editions.

      I am one of these who wish to contribute information I have obtained through several of my past Masters, now deceased, but certainly, not forgotten. Their vocal distain for the use of fallacy, myth and folklore. the hypothetical and culmination of Theory, was scoffed by them in holding true the Traditional of Ancient Teachings of Ancient Martial Arts Lineages.

      Chinese Martial Arts

      In order to better understand Chinese Martial Arts and their Ancient Masters, , I want to provide some background about Chinese Martial Arts in general.

      Chinese martial Arts today are known in many generic terms including ‘Kung Fu’ & ‘Gung Fu’. Basically, the terms Kung Fu and Gung Fu are one-in-the-same; that is, Kung Fu is a term representing the Northern Chinese dialect or ‘Mandarin’ and Gung Fu term representing the Southern Chinese dialect or ‘Cantonese’. Both disply or demonstrate the use of “ Chinese Boxing ”. Native speakers of Chinese use the term ‘ Wushu ’ which literally translates to ” Martial Methods ”, much like us using the Japanese term, ‘ Ryu ‘.

      In the duration of Chinese Martial Arts history, a number of other general terms have been used, some of which one will appear in the English language of discussion when referring to Chinese Martial Arts. These terms are: ‘ Quanfa ’ or ‘ Chuanfa ’ ( literally : Boxing method ) and ‘ Guoshu ’ or ‘ Kuoshu ’ (literally : National Art ). Yet another terms hardly used or heard in western martial arts circles is ‘ Jiji ’ ( literally: Combative Techniques ) .

      Various Chinese Martial Arts

      Chinese Martial Arts are not one thing, rather, comprised on many entities. The basis, stemming from Ancient Monastic Chuanfa was comprised of some of the following:

      Physical /External Spiritual/Internal
      Physics ( the Study of Micro-dynamics Buddhism
      Analytical & Geometric Study Meditation
      Grappling Holistic Study
      Weapons ( early monastic were un-forged weapons)
      Balancing & Weight distribution Accu-Puncture/Pressure
      Forms Energy forms /Exercises
      Yoga Sadhana Study of Yogic Principles

      . . . and much more !

      Of course, we cannot forget the basics of all Martial Arts practices; Punching ( Strikes) , Blocking ( Guards & Jamming), and Kicking. All of the above was just the tip of the iceberg as they say, with every bit of this taking the student literally years to master, before being accepted into the house of the Master for higher learning.

      These systems today’s Kung Fu, can be roughly divided into three (3) broad categories: Striking , Grappling & Weapons Training. A large variation that in Ancient times.

      Chinese martial Arts systems that are striking orientated, place an emphasis on Hand Strikes, Punches, Kicks, Elbow & Knee Striking.

      Grappling systems place the emphasis on throwing the opponent, joint-locking opponents limbs, or Choking out his opponent.

      Weapons systems have their emphasis on one or many of the Traditional Chinese Weapons. In some cases, a particular system may include weapons, grappling, and striking Techniques; however, most systems tend to focus their attention on one of the three areas of training.

      Each of these many different Chinese versions of Martial Arts “ Systems or Methods ” of Training, has a name. ( i.e : Bai Shaolin , Bok Mei , Hung Gar , Zhang Xing Shi Kuntau , Paqua Quan, Choi Li Fut, Niajiaquan, Taijiquan, Taiji, Liu Ho Pa Fa , etc. )

      WHAT INTRIGUES ME MOSTLY is the Three entities of FORMS, YOGA SADHANA and the Study of YOGIC PRINCIPLES.

      When talking about these three areas of Study, if one is Practitioner of Ryukyuan Japanese, Kyushuan-Japanese and Mainland Japanese we begin to associate this information in Japanese manner . . . ” K A T A “.

      The subject that Rowe, Sensei has offered up for discussion is one area in particular I love to talk about so here goes.

      ” KATA ” is an area most common to each of us. One could not identify himself as a serious Budo-ka in martial arts circles without knowing how to perform Kata. BUT, is performing Kata all there is in knowing and understanding its main function(s) within each Lineage of martial art ?

      Call it ‘ Kata ‘, ‘ Hyungs ‘, ‘ Poomse ‘ or just simply, ‘ Forms ‘, there IS more to this Practice than most may ever imagine.

      To many Practitioners and Teachers alike, depict Kata as merely a mimicry of a person or multiple persons in an attack situation. An imaginary confrontation be -tween assailant and we, the victim in a struggle of life and death, using offensive and defensive strategy to demonstrate … well. whatever the imagination. To others, it is nothing more than an obnoxious – monotonous mean to the final gain in their study program, of reaching that most exalted means of ” Black Belt “.

      As attainment of Yudansha is a worthy inducement for being a part of ‘ The Program ‘, it certainly makes me wonder just how many Yudnasha in today’s modern-day Programs, actually know what it is they are doing other than knowing the ‘How To’s’ in administering and executing their Waza; and certainly, do thy know how to gage or monitor their Waza to fit each situation that may occur on the street. Surely, Kata Teaches or Informs us ONLY how to unleash our ultimate Punch, Kick in a manner befitting any possible outcome; that is, rendering our adversary Comatose, Brain-dead, Crippled, and the most extreme outcome being, Death ! I for one have to believe the Creation of Kata, was the very foundation of all Martial Arts, and that its initial Creation was for additional uses other than today’s Combative Stratagems.

      There are two ways in which one might logically deduce that there is much more to this area of Study : a. Be taught Ancient information by your Shilo-Sensei or
      b. study for extensive years actually being under the direction of Master level Teachers who can offer you information relevant information and whatever he does not know, one can actually extract from the Universe.

      O.K. now, I’ve gone and done it ! I can feel that some of you are beginning to experience the early stages of ‘Nose Bleeds’ as you are now embracing the notion that ” he is totally way out there ” OR perhaps, if you have any vision at all, I may have gotten your attention as to wondering, “what is coming next” !

      As I too am one of these Budo-ka who at a early point in my Studies, during the 1950’s and 1960’s through the middle 1970’s, felt there was little, if any relevance in my practicing Kata; I must be honest in stating that I found it rather boring, uneventful and nothing more than a pain in the . . . well, you get the picture. None-the-less, I had determined long past that I was in for the ‘ long haul ‘ ( although I never imagined I would be Studying almost my entire lifetime ) and pushed eagerly to always impress whomever my Teacher was. I can say here and now, reaching ‘ Kuri Obi ‘ was never in my plan initially as there were few who factually were ever awarded ‘Yudansha’ in the early days there were the few that could only be found in the larger cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Southern cities were virtually non-existent !

      Since there were actually few legitimate Black Belts with a ‘ Menkyo’ ( Teachers License ), if actually any here in the U.S. directly following WW II, it stands to reason that few, had informative Teachings regarding what they had studied Overseas in such a short time during U.S. occupation of the Japans. What we know today comes from those who decided to make ‘The Path’ their occupation
      and would return to the Japans in furthering their education in the Martial Arts.

      I could write for days literally on this as a particular subject of mine but there again, this would take up far too much time and energy and I would like NOT to stray too far off our main topic; that is, ‘KATA’.

      I have stated for many years in which some ‘get it’ and of course, others ‘do not get it’. The statement goes such as this:

      “ Martial Arts IS Yoga and Yoga IS Martial Arts ”

      If you ‘get it’, then we can continue onward; if you are one who ‘does not get it ’, please bear with me and hopefully , you will ‘get it’ as we continue further on.

      If one thoroughly understand the Principles & Philosophy if Ancient Yoga Sadhana, then as I further offer you full details as to the relevance and parallels of Yoga Sadhana as it pertains to Kata Practice, you ill come to know what we are doing in each of these kata we perform.

      To integrate the term “ YOGA” into our Martial Arts practice,, sends a clear photo in ones mind as to what we see here in the West. One tends to think in manner of all of these lean-trim-muscled toned women, who execute beautiful contortion postures that most probably, most of us can never accomplish. If the facts be known, most Ancient Yoga ‘ Yogi & Practitioner’ alike, involved little in the manner in which Yoga is viewed today. Again, a ‘Modern-day’ filtered down version, much likened our Martial Arts practiced in the U.S. or should I say, throughout the Western World !

      PRACTICING YOUR KATA

      O.K. I may have a lot of nothing or frankly, too much in totally confusing you the reader . So it’s get down to what Kata actually is.

      Each Kata, no matter an introductory or Novice level ( Yokasei ) onward through years of study in reaching Black Belt, are very – VERY important. One might say that yes, this is true but the Yokasei Katas are nothing compared to those Elevated kata of say, ‘ Seisan’, more so, ‘Sanchin’. You may be totally incorrect in making such a statement.

      What IS kata then you may be asking yourself ? Basically, Kata is nothing more than a ‘ Moving or Walking Meditation ‘. Each Kata contains each of the SIX ELEMENTS:

      a. Fire b. Water c. Wood d. Metal e. Air f. Consciousness

      That’s right, I did say ” SIX ELEMENTS ” ( although you may only be familiar with FOUR or FIVE ).

      In addition each Kata performed has each of the Four Virtues of Meditation :

      a. Mudra b. Mantra c. Yantra d. Mandala

      At this point, I would like to explain that there are many different kinds of Meditation in which many reading this material, may only view meditation from a Sitting ( Lotus) or Kneeling ( Seiza) position. On the contrary, there is Tantric Meditation in a more reclined or lying down position, there is also Walking Meditation. Others I need not mention as I am wanting to simply make a point in using these Virtues as components in Kata Practice(s).

      If there is any Truth in my statement that ” Martial Arts IS Yoga & Yoga IS Martial Arts “, the outcome of thought related to this material might answer a question some of you are asking yourself. ” What’s the point ” or ” what is the reason(s) behind these statements in relationship to our Kata Practices “. Each would be a very reasonable question to ask.

      IF, you want to know and experience what the Ancient Masters meant in their designs regarding their creation of Kata ( forms ), you must think like an Ancient Master.

      If you were introduced to some or any of their Ancient Forms, you would find that the expression associated with their Forms were first and foremost created for ‘ Self-Therapeutic ‘means and secondly, created so that the Practitioner coined his Technique to be used as ‘ Energetic means of Self-Defense ‘.

      Yoga’s introduction of use of the Elements along with the Virtues of Meditation and the creation of the utilization of combining these along with Offensive and Defensive maneuvers, WAS the point of establishing the ‘ FORM ‘ as a complete ‘ Wallking or Moving Meditation ‘.

      The FORM had a formula embossed into the fabric of its very core or foundation – –

      MOVEMENT + MOTION + MOMENTUM + FREQUENCY = ENERGY

      Call it, ‘ Chi ‘, ‘ KI ‘, ‘ Prana ‘, ‘ Lung ‘, ‘ Kundalini ‘ each of the above are major factors in the administration and execution of our Kata.

      If Kata is Taught in Principle and Philosophically sound in manner of SCIENTIFIC APPLICATION, ADMINISTRATION & EXECUTION, then YES is the answer to Lowe, Sensei’s question. However, if one merely studies their particular Discipline as mere a Martial Art and not a Martial Science, then my answer will always be YES & NO.

      Does Kata work in a given altercation ? YES, it can work ! No it can not work ! The answers totally depends on the Practitioners application. Do a survey of those whom you know, have studied with, friends in the Study of The Path. If you can redeem honest answers and not answers from one’s Ego. then I’m a firm believer that Statistics will always provide the Answers to our questions .

      May those who read this be Blessed,

      Arakawa Tenshin, Shifu
      Tenshin Ryushin-Ji Buddhist Temple

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Arakawa Tenshin, Shifu says:

    Early Chinese Martial Arts ( before Japanese change )
    ________________________________________________________

    During Ancient times, Chinese Masters were actually few in number. Traditions and Lineages were based on family members and outsiders were never taught the true Secrets of their Lineage Transmissions. Many of these ‘ Sifu ’ or ‘Sigung’ ( the Master or Teacher ) were illiterate themselves ; that is, from a stand point by today’s educational systems. Therefore, the Teachings of their Martial Art Lineage, were handed down from the Master, to only his chosen of all Students. This is the manner in which had been done for centuries. Virtually nothing was ever placed on paper or
    documented into historical accuracy. However, for others, some documented their Techniques by simple drawing but little has ever been discovered as Ancient text because many of these Transmissions have been destroyed over many centuries by brigands who looted and burned down many Temples.

    Today, there have been releases of Training Manuals by several that date back as for as the 1300-1600 hundreds CE. Of course, they are reprints from released copies or re-written copies that are just now being published. There is one particular publishing company ( not certain at this writing if it is in China or the West ) whose on-going project is to reprint Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals as they are discovered and make them available to those interested, in modestly priced editions.

    I am one of these who wish to contribute information I have obtained through several of my past Masters, now deceased, but certainly, not forgotten. Their vocal distain for the use of fallacy, myth and folklore. the hypothetical and culmination of Theory, was scoffed by them in holding true the Traditional of Ancient Teachings of Ancient Martial Arts Lineages.

    Chinese Martial Arts

    In order to better understand Chinese Martial Arts and their Ancient Masters, , I want to provide some background about Chinese Martial Arts in general.

    Chinese martial Arts today are known in many generic terms including ‘Kung Fu’ & ‘Gung Fu’. Basically, the terms Kung Fu and Gung Fu are one-in-the-same; that is, Kung Fu is a term representing the Northern Chinese dialect or ‘Mandarin’ and Gung Fu term representing the Southern Chinese dialect or ‘Cantonese’. Both disply or demonstrate the use of “ Chinese Boxing ”. Native speakers of Chinese use the term ‘ Wushu ’ which literally translates to ” Martial Methods ”, much like us using the Japanese term, ‘ Ryu ‘.

    In the duration of Chinese Martial Arts history, a number of other general terms have been used, some of which one will appear in the English language of discussion when referring to Chinese Martial Arts. These terms are: ‘ Quanfa ’ or ‘ Chuanfa ’ ( literally : Boxing method ) and ‘ Guoshu ’ or ‘ Kuoshu ’ (literally : National Art ). Yet another terms hardly used or heard in western martial arts circles is ‘ Jiji ’ ( literally: Combative Techniques ) .

    Various Chinese Martial Arts

    Chinese Martial Arts are not one thing, rather, comprised on many entities. The basis, stemming from Ancient Monastic Chuanfa was comprised of some of the following:

    Physical /External Spiritual/Internal
    Physics ( the Study of Micro-dynamics Buddhism
    Analytical & Geometric Study Meditation
    Grappling Holistic Study
    Weapons ( early monastic were un-forged weapons)
    Balancing & Weight distribution Accu-Puncture/Pressure
    Forms Energy forms /Exercises
    Yoga Sadhana Study of Yogic Principles

    . . . and much more !

    Of course, we cannot forget the basics of all Martial Arts practices; Punching ( Strikes) , Blocking ( Guards & Jamming), and Kicking. All of the above was just the tip of the iceberg as they say, with every bit of this taking the student literally years to master, before being accepted into the house of the Master for higher learning.

    These systems today’s Kung Fu, can be roughly divided into three (3) broad categories: Striking , Grappling & Weapons Training. A large variation that in Ancient times.

    Chinese martial Arts systems that are striking orientated, place an emphasis on Hand Strikes, Punches, Kicks, Elbow & Knee Striking.

    Grappling systems place the emphasis on throwing the opponent, joint-locking opponents limbs, or Choking out his opponent.

    Weapons systems have their emphasis on one or many of the Traditional Chinese Weapons. In some cases, a particular system may include weapons, grappling, and striking Techniques; however, most systems tend to focus their attention on one of the three areas of training.

    Each of these many different Chinese versions of Martial Arts “ Systems or Methods ” of Training, has a name. ( i.e : Bai Shaolin , Bok Mei , Hung Gar , Zhang Xing Shi Kuntau , Paqua Quan, Choi Li Fut, Niajiaquan, Taijiquan, Taiji, Liu Ho Pa Fa , etc. )

    WHAT INTRIGUES ME MOSTLY is the Three entities of FORMS, YOGA SADHANA and the Study of YOGIC PRINCIPLES.

    When talking about these three areas of Study, if one is Practitioner of Ryukyuan Japanese, Kyushuan-Japanese and Mainland Japanese we begin to associate this information in Japanese manner . . . ” K A T A “.

    The subject that Rowe, Sensei has offered up for discussion is one area in particular I love to talk about so here goes.

    ” KATA ” is an area most common to each of us. One could not identify himself as a serious Budo-ka in martial arts circles without knowing how to perform Kata. BUT, is performing Kata all there is in knowing and understanding its main function(s) within each Lineage of martial art ?

    Call it ‘ Kata ‘, ‘ Hyungs ‘, ‘ Poomse ‘ or just simply, ‘ Forms ‘, there IS more to this Practice than most may ever imagine.

    To many Practitioners and Teachers alike, depict Kata as merely a mimicry of a person or multiple persons in an attack situation. An imaginary confrontation be -tween assailant and we, the victim in a struggle of life and death, using offensive and defensive strategy to demonstrate … well. whatever the imagination. To others, it is nothing more than an obnoxious – monotonous mean to the final gain in their study program, of reaching that most exalted means of ” Black Belt “.

    As attainment of Yudansha is a worthy inducement for being a part of ‘ The Program ‘, it certainly makes me wonder just how many Yudnasha in today’s modern-day Programs, actually know what it is they are doing other than knowing the ‘How To’s’ in administering and executing their Waza; and certainly, do thy know how to gage or monitor their Waza to fit each situation that may occur on the street. Surely, Kata Teaches or Informs us ONLY how to unleash our ultimate Punch, Kick in a manner befitting any possible outcome; that is, rendering our adversary Comatose, Brain-dead, Crippled, and the most extreme outcome being, Death ! I for one have to believe the Creation of Kata, was the very foundation of all Martial Arts, and that its initial Creation was for additional uses other than today’s Combative Stratagems.

    There are two ways in which one might logically deduce that there is much more to this area of Study : a. Be taught Ancient information by your Shilo-Sensei or
    b. study for extensive years actually being under the direction of Master level Teachers who can offer you information relevant information and whatever he does not know, one can actually extract from the Universe.

    O.K. now, I’ve gone and done it ! I can feel that some of you are beginning to experience the early stages of ‘Nose Bleeds’ as you are now embracing the notion that ” he is totally way out there ” OR perhaps, if you have any vision at all, I may have gotten your attention as to wondering, “what is coming next” !

    As I too am one of these Budo-ka who at a early point in my Studies, during the 1950’s and 1960’s through the middle 1970’s, felt there was little, if any relevance in my practicing Kata; I must be honest in stating that I found it rather boring, uneventful and nothing more than a pain in the . . . well, you get the picture. None-the-less, I had determined long past that I was in for the ‘ long haul ‘ ( although I never imagined I would be Studying almost my entire lifetime ) and pushed eagerly to always impress whomever my Teacher was. I can say here and now, reaching ‘ Kuri Obi ‘ was never in my plan initially as there were few who factually were ever awarded ‘Yudansha’ in the early days there were the few that could only be found in the larger cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Southern cities were virtually non-existent !

    Since there were actually few legitimate Black Belts with a ‘ Menkyo’ ( Teachers License ), if actually any here in the U.S. directly following WW II, it stands to reason that few, had informative Teachings regarding what they had studied Overseas in such a short time during U.S. occupation of the Japans. What we know today comes from those who decided to make ‘The Path’ their occupation
    and would return to the Japans in furthering their education in the Martial Arts.

    I could write for days literally on this as a particular subject of mine but there again, this would take up far too much time and energy and I would like NOT to stray too far off our main topic; that is, ‘KATA’.

    I have stated for many years in which some ‘get it’ and of course, others ‘do not get it’. The statement goes such as this:

    “ Martial Arts IS Yoga and Yoga IS Martial Arts ”

    If you ‘get it’, then we can continue onward; if you are one who ‘does not get it ’, please bear with me and hopefully , you will ‘get it’ as we continue further on.

    If one thoroughly understand the Principles & Philosophy if Ancient Yoga Sadhana, then as I further offer you full details as to the relevance and parallels of Yoga Sadhana as it pertains to Kata Practice, you ill come to know what we are doing in each of these kata we perform.

    To integrate the term “ YOGA” into our Martial Arts practice,, sends a clear photo in ones mind as to what we see here in the West. One tends to think in manner of all of these lean-trim-muscled toned women, who execute beautiful contortion postures that most probably, most of us can never accomplish. If the facts be known, most Ancient Yoga ‘ Yogi & Practitioner’ alike, involved little in the manner in which Yoga is viewed today. Again, a ‘Modern-day’ filtered down version, much likened our Martial Arts practiced in the U.S. or should I say, throughout the Western World !

    PRACTICING YOUR KATA

    O.K. I may have a lot of nothing or frankly, too much in totally confusing you the reader . So it’s get down to what Kata actually is.

    Each Kata, no matter an introductory or Novice level ( Yokasei ) onward through years of study in reaching Black Belt, are very – VERY important. One might say that yes, this is true but the Yokasei Katas are nothing compared to those Elevated kata of say, ‘ Seisan’, more so, ‘Sanchin’. You may be totally incorrect in making such a statement.

    What IS kata then you may be asking yourself ? Basically, Kata is nothing more than a ‘ Moving or Walking Meditation ‘. Each Kata contains each of the SIX ELEMENTS:

    a. Fire b. Water c. Wood d. Metal e. Air f. Consciousness

    That’s right, I did say ” SIX ELEMENTS ” ( although you may only be familiar with FOUR or FIVE ).

    In addition each Kata performed has each of the Four Virtues of Meditation :

    a. Mudra b. Mantra c. Yantra d. Mandala

    At this point, I would like to explain that there are many different kinds of Meditation in which many reading this material, may only view meditation from a Sitting ( Lotus) or Kneeling ( Seiza) position. On the contrary, there is Tantric Meditation in a more reclined or lying down position, there is also Walking Meditation. Others I need not mention as I am wanting to simply make a point in using these Virtues as components in Kata Practice(s).

    If there is any Truth in my statement that ” Martial Arts IS Yoga & Yoga IS Martial Arts “, the outcome of thought related to this material might answer a question some of you are asking yourself. ” What’s the point ” or ” what is the reason(s) behind these statements in relationship to our Kata Practices “. Each would be a very reasonable question to ask.

    IF, you want to know and experience what the Ancient Masters meant in their designs regarding their creation of Kata ( forms ), you must think like an Ancient Master.

    If you were introduced to some or any of their Ancient Forms, you would find that the expression associated with their Forms were first and foremost created for ‘ Self-Therapeutic ‘means and secondly, created so that the Practitioner coined his Technique to be used as ‘ Energetic means of Self-Defense ‘.

    Yoga’s introduction of use of the Elements along with the Virtues of Meditation and the creation of the utilization of combining these along with Offensive and Defensive maneuvers, WAS the point of establishing the ‘ FORM ‘ as a complete ‘ Wallking or Moving Meditation ‘.

    The FORM had a formula embossed into the fabric of its very core or foundation – –

    MOVEMENT + MOTION + MOMENTUM + FREQUENCY = ENERGY

    Call it, ‘ Chi ‘, ‘ KI ‘, ‘ Prana ‘, ‘ Lung ‘, ‘ Kundalini ‘ each of the above are major factors in the administration and execution of our Kata.

    If Kata is Taught in Principle and Philosophically sound in manner of SCIENTIFIC APPLICATION, ADMINISTRATION & EXECUTION, then YES is the answer to Lowe, Sensei’s question. However, if one merely studies their particular Discipline as mere a Martial Art and not a Martial Science, then my answer will always be YES & NO.

    Does Kata work in a given altercation ? YES, it can work ! No it can not work ! The answers totally depends on the Practitioners application. Do a survey of those whom you know, have studied with, friends in the Study of The Path. If you can redeem honest answers and not answers from one’s Ego. then I’m a firm believer that Statistics will always provide the Answers to our questions .

    May those who read this be Blessed,

    Arakawa Tenshin, Shifu
    Tenshin Ryushin-Ji Buddhist Temple

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  6. Arakawa says:

    Thank you so much for the opportunity Sensei Rowe. I apologize for all my incorrect spelling such as ” Shilo-Sensei” was supposed to be ” Shido-Sensei” and my punctuation, ARRrrrrrggggg, so very sorry ! Again, many thanks !

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  7. When sparring in the dojo, you never try to knock the opponents teeth out or brake their nose. Its all controlled! But when doing kata in the dojo, you are fighting an imaginary opponent. You should be trying to knock their teeth out and break their nose. Every time you punch, the next punch should be faster and more powerful!! This is the way you should train in kata at the elementary level! To many schools try to look PRETTY when doing kata! (SPORT) This is bull shit! You don’t get anything out of the kata by doing it this way! TIMING, POWER, SPEED is how you practice kata at the elementary level. This is what makes you a better fighter! Your kata is in your fight and your fight is in your kata! When you make BLACK BELT level, then your kata training focuses on the kata movement for it’s practical application
    based on a serious defense situation. The kata now is to understand the inner contents of protection techniques hidden in kata and use this principle to develop your protection skills! When I trained with Master Shugoro Nakazato, he would drill the students in kata until they were ready to fall over! When you weren’t doing kata you were in the back of the dojo sparring! He had some of the best fighters on the Island! (Okinawa)

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