Karate theory: tense kata vs loose kata | Page 2

Discussion in 'Standup Technique' started by Hotora86, Mar 15, 2017.

  1. panamaican Steel Belt

    panamaican
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    Since I never trained in a super traditional dojo, I can't speak to the specifics of how those places train. When I learned, we learned the entire Heian series at once and drilled them as a group from the beginning. Then we learned Tekki Shodan and then Hangetsu. That was our foundation. And since it was very small group of people training, class tended to have lots of variation in the kihon and lots of partner drills beyond the standard 1-3-5 step sparring.

    My perspective on the value of the repetition for muscle memory comes from my sparring experience outside of karate. When I went out and sparred outside of karate, I found that I was able to improvise and apply techniques/defenses that I had never formally drilled because I had drilled them in the katas so many time.

    Things would happen and I'd find myself flowing into kata sequences because they just naturally worked. Not 6 steps sequences with turning on the heel and yada, yada, yada but 2-4 step sequences.

    It was eye opening. Was it a substitute for drilling specific techniques over and over again? No, it was a complement to them. Specific drilling would have refined those techniques. But you can't drill every thing every class. There just isn't enough time in the day to handle your fundamentals then drill every technique presented in a dozen or more kata and then actively apply them via sparring.

    Let me lay out how i would teach it to illustrate my point. In the ideal world, I'd take a kata (say Bassai Dai since I referenced that earlier), and teach the kata in it's entirety. My kihon would be specific sequences from the kata to reinforce those movements, the balance, transitions, etc. Then partner drills on specific applications from those specific sequences. Then sparring. And that would be the only way you teach for a year or more. But that can't work in a large class with multiple mixed belts learning different katas at the same time. Kihon ends up being less kata relevant because everyone isn't doing the same kata, even if they're doing the same kihon.

    My experience showed me that just the constant repetition of kata was making me a better fighter. Are there better ways to drill specific techniques? Absolutely. But, to me, the kata should be treated as the foundation for the specific techniques you're drilling that day. Do the kata, drill the techniques from the kata including the transitions, repeat the kata. Go spar. But for the techniques that you're not drilling, doing the other kata is a way to get some of the repetition in that will improve the techniques later.

    But that's my experience. Everyone's karate journey is different and the more traditional the dojo and the larger the classes, the less relevant my experience seems to be.
     
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  2. panamaican Steel Belt

    panamaican
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    @Hotora86 @Azam

    Have you ever experimented with aspects of the katas that people take for granted?

    For example, something I've done which I've found very insightful is changing the stepping direction of certain movements. For example, in the Heian series, I open by stepping away instead of stepping forward. Like in the opening gedan barai of Heian Shodan, instead of stepping out/forward with the left foot into the movement, I step backwards with the right foot into the movement (same ending stance, left foot forward gedan barai facing to the left). Then move forward into the tzuki. It completely changes how you generate power and your sense of balance.

    I do the same thing with the kokustu dachi's. So in Heian Nidan, after the first kick, you execute 3 backwards shutos and then explode forward for the nukite. Or in Yondan, 3 backwards morote uke's then explode forward for the knee strike.

    From a fighting perspective, performing kata this way is often more analogous to actual fighting where you have to quickly shift from moving backwards defensively into a forward attack. Or in other cases, a series of forward attacks suddenly shifting backwards into defense (Such as in the 2nd straight line sequence of Nidan suddenly shifting backwards into the morote uke).

    EDIT: Jion starts exactly like that, with a backwards step before moving forward.

    I've often wondered if whole sequences of kata are not moving in the right direction (by constantly moving forward, even when the kata indicates the back stance) and that becomes a large reason why they are ineffective for many people in many circumstances. That, in my opinion, is a very good reason to abandon kata altogether.

    Anyway, try it sometime and let me know what you think.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
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  3. IndyCovaHart How is red belt higher than BLACK???

    IndyCovaHart
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  4. Hotora86 火虎 空手道

    Hotora86
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    Hey, appreciate Your input, thanks. :)

    I've done kata with the 3 blocks in place (instead of moving forward) but not moving backwards - it's an interesting concept.

    I'm generally a proponent of doing an entire kata "for reference" but then focusing on 3-4 step fragments as solo and partner drills. I also like what Iain Abernethy is doing. Like for the 3 shuto - nukite part of H-Nidan:

     
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  5. Hotora86 火虎 空手道

    Hotora86
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    OT: Browsing YT I found this gem (note that Naka sensei references kata a lot):

     
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  6. Azam Purple Belt

    Azam
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    I think that sounds pretty traditional. Most karate classes at least in the UK involve largely kihon and then kata/kumite. Also usually you never do one kata or a group of kata together until you get them down. Usually it's a mix of different kata done in a sporadic fashion. At least this is what I've experienced.

    Your ideal way of teaching kata is perfect to me. I agree that's how it probably should be done. For some reason though it's rare to find karate instructors that teach this way.

    Personally I don't believe there is much benefit to rinsing & repeating whole kata sequences. I think though it's important to keep in memory so that's a reason to practice it. It serves as a great way to preserving the basis of karate - for those reasons I would rinse & repeat. I think the benefit of kata really lies when you break apart kata sequences & repeat and drill. You don't really need to learn whole kata sequences to learn proper transitions/balance work. I think we both agree on this - as you've said 2-4 step sequences you'd automatically flow in to. This is the point I was making in the prior post - maybe I didn't word it as well.

    Doing an entire kata for reference as @Hotora86 mentioned is how I view kata. Whole kata sequences aren't there to provide muscle memory, retention of technique or shadowboxing benefits - it's just a reference. If you want muscle memory drill segments of kata - not the whole thing, if you want retention of technique best to do more kihon imho (with good technique & proper weight distribution) or ido geiko if you want to do techniques while transitioning - and shadowboxing is best done by actually doing shadowboxing.

    You won't get optimal benefits of all three of these things by practicing entire kata sequences. That's all I was saying.
     
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  7. panamaican Steel Belt

    panamaican
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    My only disagreement is that I don't think you can or should separate the 2, kata and kihon. I'm not sure that breaking out the sequences without the kata themselves provides the optimal benefit. I think you need both and minimizing either creates karate that isn't as effective as it could be.

    There is a benefit to the constant flow and sequence of kata. It's a different benefit from drilling short sequences as kihon. Again, just my opinion but I'll use a basketball/soccer reference. I don't know if you play either but have you ever just slipped into a zone with the soccer ball or the basketball where you just flow around the pitch/court doing things without thinking. It's a very different feel from deliberate execution of a move or pass. It's more unconscious movement than conscious thought. I think one of the benefits of kata is that it helps create that "flow". Drilling kata until you don't even have to think about sequencing creates the mental state where you can't just move and fight without over thinking.

    Drilling technical sequences are great but they don't really prepare you for flowing from 1 technical sequence into another technical sequence unless you're constantly drilling the transition. Instead, you're drilling how to execute 1 sequence. Reset. Execute another sequence. Reset.

    The value over shadowboxing comes back to technical proficiency. We all know that in sparring or competition, technique isn't always executed perfectly under stress. So training should focus on perfection so that is what's grooved into memory. When shadowboxing, it's easy to let little technical flaws creep in unless there's something/someone stopping you and correcting you.

    Anyhoo, that's opinion. I think you have to have both kata and kihon because they reinforce each other.
     
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  8. Hellcat93 Orange Belt

    Hellcat93
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    Haven't read the thread but I'll give my two cents real quick.

    Every kata has its own style. Some call for more fluid movement, and some call for hard tense movement. A good instructor will be able to tell you when to use which. In addition, more advanced katas often switch from being fluid to tense to fluid ect ect...

    Generally speaking though, I would say on most movements you want to start light and fluid and right at the end of the technique you should be strong and tense.
     
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  9. theTKDguy Blue Belt

    theTKDguy
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    Exactly. The whole idea of a kata or poomsae is the simulation of a real fight. So you ought to be fluid in your movements but tense when you strike.
     
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