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View Full Version : ON KATA - AND A FEW OTHER THINGS



Gabriel Suarez
03-23-2018, 07:42 AM
So Barnetmill asked about this on the other thread. The concept of Kata is universal. You see it in many martial disciplines (I hate the word "art"). Here is the concept applied in a very simple and basic manner...by US Soldiers...

https://youtu.be/tHi0fk4-zHY

Its a way to codify, memorize, and repeat movement patterns extensively in a memorable and dynamic manner. Doing five cuts in a kata has more application and is more interesting than simply standing there and doing five cuts. Moving on.

As I said in the video...just as dry practice is not an end to itself and is training for live fire, kata are for fighting. The modern understanding of kata by the martial clowns and gymnasts is that kata is an end onto itself and exists as a gymnastic demonstration. Nope...wrong.

Modern kata all originated in Okinawa. Anything originally taught in Okinawa, then to Japan, and then to Korea, has roots in Chinese fighting systems. I studied Kyokushin Karate, and then a couple of other systems...then a non-Taekwondo Korean system...and with minor variations and names...all the kata were pretty much the same. That is no accident...it shows lineage. To really get to the bottom of this you need to leave nationalism behind and Asians are terrible about this. Koreans hate Japanese and both hate the Chinese and as far as the Okinawans...all of them look down on the Okinawans. Do a Korean version of Kushanku and its called Kong Chiang Chin...at it looks...the same as the Japanese Kanku Dai. So there.

Incidentally - there were three major schools or groups of schools on Okinawa. These were the Shuri, Naha, and Tomari. The Bassai (alternatively known as Passai, Bassai Dai, and Patsai) is Shuri and Tomari-based. I practice kata from all three schools as they each have attributes worthy of having. If there is interest, perhaps Brent and i will do a few here.

The original Kata as taught in Okinawa and in fight-centric schools outside Okinawa (Goju-Ryu as one example, and the Kyokushin that developed from it) featured lots of strong hand techniques, tight tall stances to allow for movement changes, and low kicking. It was, as i said...preparatory for hand to hand combat.

When Itosu (Okinawa) and Funakoshi (Japan) introduced Karate into the respective school systems of each location, they did so largely as a physical fitness matter, not a fighting matter. And the forced transition from Jutsu to Do by the Japanese government focused the combat system into areas of sport, self-perfection, etc. The low stances, the high kicks, the military organization, were all added at this point and absent in original karate. Also added at this point were the training uniform (Gi- Do Gi, Doebok, or whathaveyou) and belt rankings...AND...the inevitable competitions.

Original Okinawan karate was taught informally in street clothes, no belts were given, and competition was non-existent. Here is a short clip of Yamaguchi, one of the founders and originator of Goju-Ryu. Yamaguchi, incidentally was no theoretical guy as he did well in real fights. Hardly the "flash and spectacle" of a "modern hollywood karateka'.

https://youtu.be/hKt3RGavWUw

And here is Oyama doing the same

https://youtu.be/bqQ8Bqq9UAs



To present an analogy closer to home, imagine what we do...gunfighting.

It is a good name - GUNFIGHTING. It is for killing other men in fights involving firearms primarily, but covers other forms of attack as well. Our discipline (Suarez-Ryu) encompasses proactive and reactive, at various distance intervals and includes a hand to hand segment intended to regain the initiative and access the pistol. Primarily a pistol system, we also use rifles and shotguns and PDW/SMGs in a similar framework. We have segments teaching fitness and tactics and mental/spiritual aspects dealing with mind set, attitude, warrior ethos, verbal articulation, and other similar matters. Rather than Buddhist or Taoist, our underlying core principles are Christian (although perhaps not the sort of christian most picture when they picture an american christian). That in a nutshell is our system.

Now imagine you tasked with using that to teach liberal-snowflake middle schoolers to concentrate better, to become agile and fit, and to learn hand eye coordination. Would you include all of the above? Unlikely. That is what Funakoshi and itosu did. And much of Real karate was lost as a result.

Korean "Karate" is the same. Modern competitive Tae Kwon Do has as much in common with street combat as foil fencing has with knife fighting...but the roots are basically Okinawan with hallmark kicks added.

As a student of combat, it is incumbent on you to know the roots of what you study. By knowing where it all came from, and why something was taught a certain way, the all-importnat "WHY" becomes evident and not only do you gain a greater understanding of things, but you become a better warrior as a result.

jmoore
03-23-2018, 08:51 AM
I want to see the next gun kata filmed under a waterfall.

Everything said above matches my experience. I started with Tang So Do and was taught everything originated in Korea. I swithced to Shotokan and was taught everything originated in Okinawan. My son's kung fu teacher tells me it all originated in China...


Everything originated on the Internet.

geezer john

Brent Yamamoto
03-23-2018, 09:15 AM
I’m doing some filming this weekend. Besides the second gun kata, perhaps I will film a couple comparisons between Okinawan and Japanese kata. We also plan on doing a couple weapons kata from Aikido.

barnetmill
03-23-2018, 09:16 AM
Excellent summary and someone for sure why not you Gabe needs set up a formal system of gun fighting. You are correct that the term martial arts is not a good concept and I used it knowing that. But that is what is being taught by most and not real fighting systems. My Korean instructor Mr. CH Choi openly told us he was not teaching street fighting. He knew the difference.

Instead of using asian vocabulary, why not use western terminology for what you wish to develop. But I do understand that there is more mystique using asian vocabulary instead of the latin and greek. I am sure that the Romans trained their soldiers via 'kata'. The modern Spanish and Portuguese words for army include the word ejericito which I believe means exercise.

I would like to see you set up 'kata' for the scene that you do in the shoot house in the close gun fighting video.

Gabriel Suarez
03-23-2018, 09:52 AM
Well...I like the word "Kata" because it acknowledges our lineage. I am fortunate to have met Mas Oyama, as well as Jeff Cooper. An example. If you look at a Marine uniform (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniforms_of_the_United_States_Marine_Corps), everything there speaks of martial heritage and lineage. So to call the project an "exercise" missed the point as much as calling "Diagonal Lines" by "Taikakusen". Some things must remain traditional while others do not. There is an art to that I suppose.

My goal is not to create fifty kata, a very complicated system, and have everyone call me "Sōke". The whole rank thing was outgrown a very long time ago. but there are concepts and strategies that really should be kept separate. For example...Diagonal Lines has a constant theme. The Kata that Brent is working on has a similar theme but different positional start, and lines of movement. I can see five or six of these and that will likely cover what we need to encapsulate and memorialize. This has been in the development and planning stages for a long time...and now its time to let this develop fully into what it has become.

Sgt. Psycho
03-23-2018, 09:52 AM
I’m doing some filming this weekend. Besides the second gun kata, perhaps I will film a couple comparisons between Okinawan and Japanese kata. We also plan on doing a couple weapons kata from Aikido.

Looking forward to your videos. I have only ever done Okinawan Goju Ryu kata, and I would like to see the comparisons/differences.

Gabriel Suarez
03-23-2018, 10:14 AM
Incidentally...from a book on Korean karate -

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Gabriel Suarez
03-23-2018, 10:15 AM
Looking forward to your videos. I have only ever done Okinawan Goju Ryu kata, and I would like to see the comparisons/differences.

Did you do Saifa (Saiha) or Seienchin?

Brent Yamamoto
03-23-2018, 11:49 AM
Martial disciplines evolve over time. This can be good, bad, or indifferent. I would argue that the evolution of MMA has been very healthy. It really started as an essentially ground only system from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. But I would argue that it has evolved into a full-fledged system that is very complete for it’s limited competition purposes.

Karate has largely devolved into different branches of competition that have very little self-defense or fighting value. But there are many people like me, Iain Abernathy, etc. who have works very hard to bring it back to its roots. Studying the Kata, the old texts, researching and experimenting. Today there is no way we can know the applications of Kata that the originators intended. But we can use our common sense and knowledge to reverse engineer, creating applications that work in the real world. Many things will not be exactly as intended but that’s fine as long as it works.

Look at this picture of Gichin Funakoshi, the founder of Shotokan karate.
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Compare to this picture of his son, Gigo.
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Which one looks like the modern practice of Shotokan today? And that was just one generation of evolution, from father to son. And Gigo had the benefit of training directly with his father!

Shotokan an is not my lineage, though I did start with a system that was very similar. Today I would argue that Gigo did not understand what he was doing. For all I know if he practiced diligently and with good intention...but he did not understand the karate of his father.

Many karate systems perform their basics and kata with these low, deep stances. But nobody actually fights with them. I would argue that these kind of stances are YOGA, not Karate. Good for a work out but not for for fighting. In my view, kata should be performed exactly as one would fight with them.

There are several reasons for this evolution to deep stances. My theory is that it is a lot easier for the instructor to see. If you have 80 students in class, it’s a lot easier to tell that their balance and structure is “correct“ when they are performing exaggerated stances. Much more difficult to tell when they are standing in more natural postures.

Also, for the beginner it is a lot easier to hit with power from those low, deep stances. It takes longer to develop real power striking from a more upright stance.

This is not to say there are no times for low, deep stances; they are absolutely appropriate for certain applications. One of which you will see in a future pistol kata. But generally speaking these very formalized deep stances are for Yoga pants, not a Karate gi.

In my not so humble opinion.

barnetmill
03-23-2018, 11:50 AM
My Japanese born judo teacher that was trained in a Jujitsu like style in the late 1940's told us that the introduction of guns had a lot to do with people not being so interested in learning the traditional styles of Japanese fighting. He said what he was training in had a lot of low kicks and close in punches. In high school his school not having any boxers entered him into a boxing match. He keep starting to raise his leg to kick and the crowd started laughing. Finally he become exhausted and in desperation grabbed his opponent around the neck with one arm and punched in him in the face and was disqualified. Real fighting was what some styles of jujitsu were like.
Final scene in Yojimbo fighting a man with a gun. Watch Yojimbo get off the X.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8ByAzPe38Y

barnetmill
03-23-2018, 01:33 PM
http://www.warriortalk.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=55290&d=1521830101
What type of sandals is he standing on and why?

Ted Demosthenes
03-23-2018, 01:37 PM
http://www.warriortalk.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=55290&d=1521830101
What type of sandals is he standing on and why?

Geta...with off-road lift kits, IIRC.
;-[[

Gabriel Suarez
03-23-2018, 01:40 PM
The medieval Japanese version of Vibram Soled boots.

barnetmill
03-23-2018, 01:46 PM
Just a guess on my part, but it looks like what someone would wear when working in rice patty or other soft terrain. If you can keep your balance in those and fight, you are good. For me a problem has also always been balance.

Ted Demosthenes
03-23-2018, 02:08 PM
If you can keep your balance in those and fight, you are good. For me a problem has also always been balance.

FWIW, as one becomes more seasoned and of higher mileage, the more important leg strength (lifting, hiking, pedaling, rowing) and controlled movement (kata, dancing, yoga) become to improving. May seem obvious to most, but you must up your participation and be consistent. Karate provides me with both as a daily reminder of need and benefit.
Thanks Brent, Craig, Randy, and the dojo tribe for the immersion, encouragement,and patience.

Great time to be on the Suarez-Ryu launch-mat!

Benjamin Liu
03-23-2018, 09:40 PM
Just a guess on my part, but it looks like what someone would wear when working in rice patty or other soft terrain. If you can keep your balance in those and fight, you are good. For me a problem has also always been balance.

You can still buy them. I have a pair that I'd occasionally train in. I probably should take them out of storage and practice with them again.

They are traditional outdoor footwear and not martial arts-specific footwear.

barnetmill
03-23-2018, 10:25 PM
You can still buy them. I have a pair that I'd occasionally train in. I probably should take them out of storage and practice with them again.

They are traditional outdoor footwear and not martial arts-specific footwear.
Is it just Japan or are they worn in other parts of Asia?

Benjamin Liu
03-23-2018, 10:36 PM
I don't know if other countries wear them. I don't recall seeing them in the Philippines.

Papa
03-24-2018, 04:36 AM
FWIW, as one becomes more seasoned and of higher mileage, the more important leg strength (lifting, hiking, pedaling, rowing) and controlled movement (kata, dancing, yoga) become to improving. May seem obvious to most, but you must up your participation and be consistent. Karate provides me with both as a daily reminder of need and benefit.
Thanks Brent, Craig, Randy, and the dojo tribe for the immersion, encouragement,and patience.

Great time to be on the Suarez-Ryu launch-mat!

The will is everything. My father made up his mind he was going to be old, and act like an old man, this last spring. Now he is in hospice.

Better this:

"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

-Dylan Thomas

Ted Demosthenes
03-24-2018, 07:02 AM
Better this:

"Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

-Dylan Thomas

Amen to that one brother! There’s another out there that says something like “...sliding to a stop in a heap of parts (or brass?) burned out and used up...”

Sgt. Psycho
03-24-2018, 03:55 PM
Did you do Saifa (Saiha) or Seienchin?

Yes. The order of the kata I was taught as best I remember was:

Elbow strike (empi or hiji in the name, I forget the name of it). We called this one a drill, not a kata, but it was very much like a kata.

Gekisai Ichi

Gekisai Ni

Sanchin - considered "advanced", but we were taught it early, and expected to improve in ways beyond just the movements as we advanced in rank. Sanchin was the root, or foundation - you could not expect to master anything else without strong 'roots' and a proper foundation. Everything from your breathing to how your feet grip the floor is important, with a constant emphasis on the solidity of the lower tanden (core muscles of your abdomen and back). I remember this one best, probably due to the constant emphasis, and I still do it as part of my morning workout.

Seiyunchin - spelled differently than yours, I may be spelling it wrong, or it may just be a different spelling in Kyokushin than Goju. Our Seiyunchin worked from siku dachi to pull your opponent off balance while striking him.

Saifa - avoiding or escaping your opponent by moving/shifting one's body in the siku dachi stance, then retaliating with hard strikes.

Shisochin

Sanseru

Sepai

Sesan

Rokkishu - I'm told this one is called by another name, but I don't know it.

There are a couple more I cannot recall the names of at the moment. There were 12 kata that a student had to perform correctly as part of achieving the Shodan rank. Other than Sanchin, I have not done much kata in many years. I did not encounter kata as a fundamental part of the training when I branched out into Boxing, Bando, BJJ, and Muy Thai. Bando did have drills that might be considered similar to kata, but we were taught them as drills. The Gurkha Kukri drills in Bando were sort of a weapon kata to train blocking and striking with the kukri, but they were also called drills.

Now I am thinking of working (and re-learning) the Goju kata back into my training.

Brent Yamamoto
03-24-2018, 04:15 PM
I practice one called Roppo Hiji-ate - “Six Elbow Strikes”. It is from the Naha family but it isn’t in the Goju-Ryu curriculum to my knowledge. Perhaps they are the same. I will film it tomorrow.