View Full Version : THE PROGRESSION

Gabriel Suarez
08-06-2018, 04:58 PM
The more I train these pistol katas, the more value I see in them. The goal is mindless execution of a correctly applied technique. You won't get there shooting a piece of cardboard. In fact, the shooting part is almost irrelevant, or at least an afterthought. The progression is this.

Learn the specific technique. By technique I mean a take off and draw...as an example.
Drill it with a cooperative partner to physically memorize in context of application.
Pressure test it periodically, but not always. Pressure testing is not pressure drilling.
You cannot learn something when under high pressure. For learning to happen the pressure must be lightened.
Drill the technique in combination with other techniques to learn contextual movement, and true balance and agility.
Take the technique and deliver true force with it...in this context, take the method out of the kata and do live fire with it.

live fire without all the preceding work is really just a waste of time...kinda like somebody punching the bag without knowing how that punch is applied in a real fight. Thus the kata feeds the deveolpment through drills and the drills feed the thinking behind the kata. And both build the sort of fighter that is a truly dangerous package.

Brent Yamamoto
08-07-2018, 08:17 AM
There was a time when I did not get much value out of kata. I did not see the point. The techniques in the Casa we’re not very useful for sparring, and we practiced our basics meticulously anyway. The emphasis was on perfect performance...for competition. My first instructor taught me to move with precision, something that has helped me to this day. However, no one had taught him any real application or deeper meaning to the kata. We did not have access to the resources we have today, and without instructor is willing or capable to share this kind of knowledge, it simply wasn’t available.

Around 1993 or so, my school hosted a big tournament. We brought in the head of our system from Japan, along with several of uis high level black belts. The tournament was fun, but my favorite part was training. Getting to train with people demonstrating karate at this level was a true joy. In our last session before they headed home to Japan, the master spent a few hours teaching us applications to several of the Kata. This was what I had been waiting for! To my amazement, even his top black belts had not even seen this material; honestly, based on their reactions I’m not sure it’s something that even occurred to them. (it was us Americans who had asked sensei to teach us the applications.)

Much as it pains me to say it, looking back at that experience I cannot think of a single application he shared that I consider realistic or worthwhile. I teach better stuff to brand new students the first month that they train with me.

In my competition days, we trained hard and fought hard. We wore armor and beat the shit out of each other. It was good training but even at the time I knew something was missing. The karate I trained at that time was simply focused on competition, And it had the insidious effect of blinding us to a much deeper and richer world.

We were always told that “Kata is the soul of Karate”. I think we all believed that in a generic sense but did not understand it at all. Much like the boy who has read about sex but has never been alone with a woman.

The kata is the recipe book. And you can cook without a recipe book but unless you are intuitively gifted you will never be a master chef. There is a method that goes much further beyond simply following a list of steps.

Kata contains the DNA of the fighting system. Not only the fighting techniques but also the methods to ingrain them. Think on this deeply, as Musashi would say.

I have been practicing kata for over 30 years. They still teach me new things. I will watch a jujitsu or aikido instructor perform a technique, and I will recognize movements straight from kata, applied in ways I had not considered before. I will be practicing a training drill and kata movement will come out without thought or preplanning...which is really the whole point. Mindless execution of correct and effective movement in response.

Applying the same idea to gunfighting is so clear and self evident to me now. And I would say this is something we should have done years ago (we have been thinking on it a long time), but things like this happen when they are supposed to.

Greg Nichols
08-07-2018, 08:25 AM
Exactly. Take a simple, clear, and practiced movement and it always works. The environment and impulses change the application but not the hard wired performance of that simple move. Muscle memory + creativity and need = applicable use.

11-04-2018, 04:48 AM
People will naturally gravitate to more Kata training once the focus shifts away from competing and more towards self defence.

only then realizing that they have simply being scratching the surface-Able to perform one/two applications for each Kata so they can pass a grading and move up to the next belt level. The only requirement being that they remember the correct sequence when working with their partner and that the techniques "look strong" and that they show "enough spirit." Using these same 2 standards to judge the effectiveness of their Katas in class and on Grading days.

The next logical step then is to seek help-further knowledge from the instructor. If the instructor has never being exposed to any other training except the styles (Becoming a Black Belt and being allowed to teach) way of applying techniques he will be unable to add to the students knowledge/guide them in the right direction.

People will start to conduct their own research and broaden their knowledge base "studying" their katas for the first time. Learning the apply the techniques in a realistic manner THAT WORKS FOR THEM-Starting to think critically about technique for the first time instead of simply going through the motions just "performing" the Katas.

Their training then turns into daily Kata practise working on their own useful techniques having designed a Drill to do so. And adding only the Katas from their own style/other styles the find useful-Their training basically consisting of using Kata.

If the Style also has Dojos in different parts of the world they simplify things further by having only one way of applying Kata techniques and executing Katas so that the different instructors can recognize the techniques and Katas and then being able to grade students.

Sadly instructors like Ian A. are not readily available to the average person seeking realistic Karate training. Leaving people with no other choice but to acquire the knowledge on their own. Using the long roundabout way of figuring it out on their own. Leading to a lot of false starts and wrong turns-Bad news.

The Good News-Even having to "start over" a couple of times it is still possible to start making "your Karate" effective (Working out on your own) Until you get the opportunity to train with somebody like Brent and Ian. Either training at a Dojo a couple of days a week/Weekend courses that become available.


Johnny C!
11-04-2018, 06:38 AM
Another grenade.

Thanks for sharing & stretching me.

I will need to read this many times and
attempt to apply it to me.

11-04-2018, 07:43 AM
It`s my pleasure Johnny.

Remember to enjoy the journey and don`t be to critical on yourself.


Ted Demosthenes
11-04-2018, 12:10 PM
Kata contains the DNA of the fighting system. Not only the fighting techniques but also the methods to ingrain them. Think on this deeply, as Musashi would say.
Applying the same idea to gunfighting is so clear and self evident to me now. And I would say this is something we should have done years ago (we have been thinking on it a long time), but things like this happen when they are supposed to.

One must believe Musashi would agree that [skilled warriors have] thought deeply on this. Clearly, that is done and this IS the time.

Kind of like the code to open a large door with a complex lock; you need the right [knowledgeable] "characters" aligned to cause the tumblers [the vision] to fall into place.