Friday, December 11, 2009

Why Learn Kata Anymore? (Part I)

News flash: kata isn’t as popular as it used to be. There’s hundreds of reasons for this, so here’s a few of them along with reasons why they really shouldn’t be.

The rise and evolution of MMA

Thanks to the rise of events such as the UFC, Pride, and similar ones, MMA has probably done the most to give people reason that katas are no longer “valid.” While it can be easy to see why, the one advantage that katas have over MMA is that kata were originally (and still is if done correctly) taught with an “anything goes” mindset. While MMA is about as close as you can get to a real fight, there are still rules, unlike a real fight in which anything really goes.

Traditional but non-kata based styles such as Brazilian Jiujitsu

The Gracies and their Brazilian Jiujitsu brethren were the main catalysts behind the martial arts community realizing the importance of ground fighting, using the premise that most fights wind up going to the ground. Anyone with any realistic fighting background (talk to any bouncer, bodyguard, military personnel who’s actually been in combat, etc.) and they will tell you, while it’s good to be adept at ground fighting, you would be foolish to actually do so on purpose, as many grappling experts advise. When taught correctly, there are numerous grappling applications taught in the katas. (On a side note, check this title out from Iain Abernathy)

The rise of reality-based martial arts

The argument I hear most from this school is that people today don’t fight like they did centuries ago when most traditional kata were invented. No argument from me on that point: times have definitely changed. However, certain truths taught in katas don’t change: a knife hand to the throat hurts just as much today in the 21st century as it did in the 8th century.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with most of the techniques done in kata but it's perfectly doable to teach them in drill-format instead of a series of prearranged moves like in kata and more conductive to learning (more repetitions in a shorter time-period). I've never seen any groundfighting-moves in kata so it's clear they do not contain a complete curriculum for fighting. My main beef with kata is that alot of instructors don't even know the proper applications of kata so they never get taught, not properly anyway. If you're just going through the motions without knowing perfectly well what you're doing you're never going to learn anything. Kata should be taught to the higher belts, first you should learn the applications then you can string them together not the other way around like they do nowadays. Kata is visually appealing and good for developping concentration and spatial awareness but not for becoming a good fighter. Effective training should consist of basics, combinations in attack and defense and sparring to learn how to use them in practice against an moving opponent who actually fights back. Kata is interesting and good to practice on your own but not essential for becoming a good martial artist or fighter.