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  1. #1
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    Default DOES A KATA NEED TO BE PHYSICAL?

    For a while now we have discussed the importance of the physical memorization of physical skills. As Iain Abernethy has said so eloquently, physical movements are best memorized and recorded in the physical medium. Not only does this teach and ingrain the feel of something, but it gets the couck warriors on their feet and away from youtube.

    The essential of this is that those who want mindlessness develop it by being mindful. Those who want formlessness develop it by internalizing form. Lazy westerners cannot will these things into existance...they must pay the "iron price" as my son calls it and put in the time and the work. The result is what we have discussed. The proof is in your instructors. Some have commented on how I move and how Brent moves. This was not wished on a Sunday afternoon after watching something on a video. We have put in the time to attain the physical. What we know now maybe wasn't known then...or explained properly...but we have some shortcuts now. The proof is also with one of our new staff that won a gunfight earlier this year using these very concepts and methods of mind and body (we don't praise survival, we praise victory).

    But now I want to open an area of discussion - does a kata need to be physical? And if a kata is not physical, but rather mental, what form does it take? And what attributes does it build for you?
    Gabe Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  2. #2
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    I practice kata physically and mentally. I'm not just memorizing dance steps, I'm fighting the battle in my mind which translates to my movements. No different than when I'm practicing live fire, but less restriction in range of motion etc.
    Jon Payne
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    Suarez International Law Enforcement Instructor

    Owner of Ray's Pawnshop in Bridge City TX

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  3. #3
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    If we're talking physical fighting methods, absolutely it must be physical. We strive for natural, intuitive, instinctual movement, but humans have forgotten how to be good animals. Most of us need a lot of practice and must learn to move like that.

    Animals don't need to go to the dojo to learn to run, move, hunt, fight and kill. They must still learn these skills of course, and they do so by playing with their litter mates, watching mom...and lots and lots of practice. A hungry wolf becomes a good hunter.

    Maybe we became physically stupid when our brains developed beyond other animals, who knows. Whatever. We need a lot of practice to move well.


    But physical movement and fighting ability are not our only goal.

    To progress in anything (business, relationships, health, you name it), we must consistently improve our BEHAVIORS. We improve our behavior by DOING and ACTING. That usually has a physical manifestation but it can be purely in the mind.

    A simple example... Want a better marriage? Then model behaviors that make you a better man. Model behaviors that make your wife smile. Do things to make her happy. This is as much a mental exercise as a physical one. It starts with the mind.

    Better example... Much of what we do in a martial context is based on a thought process. How we process information we receive, how we evaluate and prioritize. How we decide what to do with that information. The more experience we have, the faster that processing happens.

    A new fighter pilot does not process information as quickly as a steely old fighter jock.

    The OODA loop is both physical and mental. We ALL go through that OODA loop, there is no way to side step it. But those with more experience go through the steps of the loop much, much faster. The first three steps, Observe, Orient, and Decide...those are all mental and are only translated into the physical when we Act.

    Visualization is a mental kata, and can be applied to damn near anything.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

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  4. #4
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    So here is where I am going with this - a physical kata teaches physical movements in context with human aggressive movements. its not about predicting what an adversary will do, but having conceptual strategies based on natural human movements. An attack coming from the high right line will require a response that addresses that line, and it won't matter what the attack is. train the responses sufficiently - in context - and memorize the action physically - in context - and the response will happen effortlessly...mindlessly.

    That is the physical.

    Now can that be done with thought only for strategic problems being presented before any physical action is called for? And can it be done with thought only for strategic problems being presented after physical actions have been concluded?

    Hint - It is not about punching, kicking, drawing or shooting.

    Hint - The Flowchart Of Justified Lethal Force is one of them.
    Gabe Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  5. #5
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    Martial kata are just as much a mental exercise as a physical one.

    I found some quotes from Choki Motobu. He was a guy who knew a thing or two about kata and how to apply it to someone's face. I don't know if he really wrote these things, if they were translated correctly, or if these are just bullshit. But sharing them since they're relevant to this discussion.


    "Kamae is in the heart, not a physical manifestation."

    "Kamae" refers to the fighter's position. Most people think of it simply as being in a stance, with your guard up. But it can be any position of readiness. Think of a cat, poised to pounce on his prey. "Heart" in this instance doesn't translate directly to English. It's more like an amalgamation of mind, spirit and heart. Think of it like "He has a lot of heart", or "the wolf rising in the heart". So this phrase is really about the hunter's intent, his willingness and readiness to strike. This is a mental position, a decision, a state of readiness. It necessarily precedes anything physical. It is your mind already on the starting blocks, ready to begin the sprint.




    "It's interesting, but when I just think about performing a kata, when I'm seated, I break a sweat."

    Some may find this one fanciful, but I believe it.




    "When punching the face, thrust as if punching through the back of the head."

    Again this is manifested physically...but the INTENTION is mental. A good punch needs correct physical performance, but if it's truly to be viciously applied, that requires intent.



    All things start with a decision.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

    Upcoming classes:
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabriel Suarez View Post
    Now can that be done with thought only for strategic problems being presented before any physical action is called for? And can it be done with thought only for strategic problems being presented after physical actions have been concluded?
    Yes. It's a thought process. That process is made smoother and faster by repetition of exercising scenarios in your mind.

    Though I will say that the end result will still be manifested physically with our response.

    The evaluation of Intent, Means, Opportunity and Preclusion is a mental exercise. Something we should practice in our minds. When presented with a real threat, we go through that evaluation in the time we are given, whether that is a split second or develops over an extended period. The more we have performed this in our minds, the faster and more sure our evaluation will be in reality.

    The articulation of Intent, Means, Opportunity and Preclusion starts as a mental exercise, but we of course have to practice this out loud.

    I think of those as an example of mental kata.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

    Upcoming classes:
    Zero to Five Feet Gunfighting

  7. #7
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    I think Gabe is getting at something that is literally mental. If its where he is going with it I agree. I have heard it called visializing, war gaming and a few things I can't recall. More or less ita thinking your way through some sort of stimulus and deciding before hand how you are going to react. With repititions a mental pathway can be made to provide a ready response to just about anything.
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  8. #8
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    Mine in bold -

    I can't imagine that the three of us are the only guys on WT with a martial arts background and do wish more would participate in the discussion.


    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Yamamoto View Post
    Martial kata are just as much a mental exercise as a physical one.

    I found some quotes from Choki Motobu. He was a guy who knew a thing or two about kata and how to apply it to someone's face. I don't know if he really wrote these things, if they were translated correctly, or if these are just bullshit. But sharing them since they're relevant to this discussion.


    "Kamae is in the heart, not a physical manifestation."

    "Kamae" refers to the fighter's position. Most people think of it simply as being in a stance, with your guard up. But it can be any position of readiness. Think of a cat, poised to pounce on his prey. "Heart" in this instance doesn't translate directly to English. It's more like an amalgamation of mind, spirit and heart. Think of it like "He has a lot of heart", or "the wolf rising in the heart". So this phrase is really about the hunter's intent, his willingness and readiness to strike. This is a mental position, a decision, a state of readiness. It necessarily precedes anything physical. It is your mind already on the starting blocks, ready to begin the sprint.

    In some of my studies I learned that physical expressions and positions have a direct effect on the mental state. In Stealing Fire, the author writes about how a "power position" (The superman pose - chest out, hands on hips) lead to a direct rise in testosterone for those in the study. And that it allowed them to score higher in certain tasks. The kamae in karate do the same things and once internalized show no physical manifestation. A fighter's posture is a mental posture. As an analogous anecdote recently discussed, the weird dude in the trenchcoat with the backpack at the burger joint where I was having lunch. I didn't jump up into a low ready or a crane stance...but I was mentally in a posture of aggression without any physical manifestation. In essence floating between the "D" and the "A".


    "It's interesting, but when I just think about performing a kata, when I'm seated, I break a sweat."

    Some may find this one fanciful, but I believe it.

    The old phrase...what the mind can conceive, the body can achieve...


    "When punching the face, thrust as if punching through the back of the head."

    Again this is manifested physically...but the INTENTION is mental. A good punch needs correct physical performance, but if it's truly to be viciously applied, that requires intent.


    All things start with a decision.
    Gabe Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  9. #9
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    Might want to check out Maxwell Maltz Theatre of the Mind, basically mental movies you go over and over usually while in a meditative state.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dorkface View Post
    I think Gabe is getting at something that is literally mental. If its where he is going with it I agree. I have heard it called visializing, war gaming and a few things I can't recall. More or less ita thinking your way through some sort of stimulus and deciding before hand how you are going to react. With repetitions a mental pathway can be made to provide a ready response to just about anything.
    I don't want to call it what others have used to skim the surface because old names have connotations and baggage that we do not have nor want to carry. So I am calling the Mind katas. There is a mind kata to get to the shot, a mind kata to move through the shooting with grace and elegance (and yes...if you see yourself doing it a certain way, you will), and a mind kata involving the time after the last bang. There is not a physically set pattern for these like Diagonal Lines or Changing Levels, but there is a mental template and flowchart for each, one of which we have already revealed on the blog.

    You mentioned "With repititions a mental pathway can be made to provide a ready response to just about anything". This is essential. Building the path. That may be the title of this in book form one day. It is something even sport shooters are familiar with as they mentally game a "stage", or practice their speedy draw. It is why physical kata are so important to develop physical responses. And we can do the exact same thing with our thought process and event analysis. I did it on the beach in 1991 when I went after the active shooter, and I did it while Iwas eating my grass-fed paleo burger earlier this year.

    This material is very "Beyond the Wall" stuff and skirts the edges of things with which many westerners are very uncomfortable.
    Gabe Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

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