Monday, February 28, 2011

Fighting Helps Kata (Not The Other Way Around)

It has been said by many instructors that better Kata equals better Kumite (Fighting). This is absurd. If this were true, then great Karate fighters like Fiho, Feitosa, Texiera, etc. wouldn't do all the running, pad/bag work, sparring, etc. Instead all you would have to do is practice you Kata moves and you can fight. Kata and Sparring are 2 different things. The better your ability to spar or fight, the easier it is for you to focus on your Kata. Those of us who fight know this. Ask the serious Karate fighters how many guys were great at Kata and Kumite, and they might name one that was equally talented at both. They require different skills. Kata is the aesthetic interpretation of combat. It is as beautiful as one can make their technique. That is hard to do. Back in the day when I competed in tournaments that had Forms and Fighting divisions, I never placed higher than 3rd in the Forms. To get first, you really had to be have beautiful Kata. The competitors who had good Kata would make you applaud. This sounds like I'm saying that Kata guy can't fight. That's not what I mean. But I will say that the martial arts provides a variety of areas that students will perfect and be better at. Some will be better at Kata and some will be better at Kumite. Now both type of students can learn and improve at both, but the ability to perform the 2 are almost never the same. The delivery of techniques are not the same. The transition between stances, the rhythm of movement, and the mental focus is not the same. In kickboxing, I will tell a new student to shadow box and they just fiddle around and throw punches and kicks. Their movements have no purpose. Then after they spar, their shadow boxing changes, because it has some intent. They remember that the got punched when their hands were down, and that they got hit for staying in the same place to long. It makes sense real fast to them. This is how karate should be taught. Kata is the art from of Karate and is the embodiment of technique perfection. It is moving meditation, it is formal exercise, and it allows us to pay respect to the originators of the art. So, continue to perfect your skills in both and enjoy them. I'll get back to the bunkai debate later. OSU!

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