GivingDecember 18, 2017
The Proper PlacementJanuary 29, 2018
I have had some discussions with a friend on the merits of, and/or lack of, kata. There are those who have said to me that the people who learn martial art through kata are inferior in results to those who are either natural fighters, or learn through full contact fighting or grappling. I have heard arguments on this going back into the 1960’s. My position is that kata is an extremely important and efficient means of teaching/learning martial art.
First, I think it is important to look at what a kata is. The people I have heard give negative thoughts about kata talk about the kata that is a series of moves combining kicks and punches, like a dance. In the 80’s and 90’s I judged many kata competitions and this was often what I saw. While there are some benefits even here, if the student does not know the application of the move and has no snap to the techniques, no moments of concentration, no proper variation in timing, they are at a serious disadvantage.
Still, a kata does not have to be a series of moves. If one trains a sword response to a sword thrust, it may be one move to those observing. A boxer who trains a combination such as jab cross. He is doing a kata. Each individual movement a martial artist makes can be so deep and complex in its entirety yet seemingly simple to the observer, that even one move can be a tremendous training tool.
No matter how skilled the ‘natural’ may be he can always get better as a fighter through diligent kata practice. Often I have seen individuals who had some natural ability simply hit a wall in training as problems became more complex. As an individual learning a martial art one may get to a point where they realize that their teacher didn’t teach them an important lesson, kata did .If one trains with a diligent instructor in the depths of what a kata is and what one can do with it, and learn from it, and uses it in application against resistance, one can become a better martial artist.