"Kata" - an amateur's perspective

Discussion in 'Other Martial Arts Articles' started by AZeitung, Oct 1, 2004.

  1. AZeitung

    AZeitung The power of Grayskull

    For those of you who haven't read my post to the intro's section of the forum, which I assume is most of you, I'd like to start out by mentioning where I am in my martial arts development.

    When I was very young, I took Karate for several years, although it was through the park district, and I only went to practice once a week (you could go twice a week, but it would cost more). I was only a blue belt by the time I quit, due partly to the fact that I didn't attend a lot of belt tests, which were only held two or three times a year to begin with (I don't remember the exact number). I remember almost nothing from karate, but still feel minor influences from it.

    Starting in 7th grade, I began fencing, which I continued part until way through my senior year of highschool. At the time I never considered it a martial art, but since it involved sparring, and only sparring (after the first seven weeks), I believe that it has been beneficial to me, at least in that area.

    For a little over a year, I have been studying Kuk Sool Won at the University of Illinois. I train for about 12 to 14 hours a week, which is really all I can do, given my current belt level (there's an advanced practice on Sunday's), unless I can get some people together to practice informally on off days. I'm currently only a bluebelt.

    I wouldn't consider myself a very competent fighter at this point, and I know that most of the Goshin Jitsu guys at our school (many of whom have been practicing regularly and intensely for around 6 years) could give me a severe beating, despite the fact that I am continually trying to improve abilities.

    That being said, I am probably not the best person in the world to be discussing martial arts in depth, since I have not yet learned the intracacies of my art. However, after reading some discussions on this board, I would very much like to throw in my two cents on forms, or "katas" (Kuk Sool Won uses the Korean word "Hyung" for forms, so I will probably use that terminology as well throught this article).

    First of all, I'm sure almost everyone will agree that the best way to learn to punch or kick isn't by sparring. I would like to begin here, and slowly work my way toward discussing forms. It is easy to see that practicing certain techniques in a live match isn't usually as beneficial as drilling them by looking at ground fighting. If an opponent has full mount, and you wish to reverse your positions, so that you are on top and he is on bottom (despite the fact that he can still keep his legs locked around you), you might want to trap his leg and arm, then push up and over with your hips. This particular technique has much better success in people who first drill simply the movement, then with the added weight of a person on top, than it does in people who only practice it live.

    With regards to kicking, in addition to the fact that a first time kicker is unlikely to have much success against another opponent, drilling kicks in the air forces the kicker to work on several other things as well.

    First of all, there's the matter of power. No matter what kind of sparring you practice, I doubt anyone ever deliberately tries to kick his opponent with full force, using the best kick that he possibly can. Such practice would be dangerous. Most kicking in the air should never be done with full force either, but when a kick is in the air done well, I believe you can achieve at last a little bit of what karate practitioners (sometimes) call "Kime", which is supposed to be the power to make a strike deadly enough to kill with one hit. Although I don't think I've ever done a kick quite that good, I often kick in a way, into the air, that I feel is powerfull enough to severely hurt anyone who is in its way.

    Second of all, there is a matter of balance. Many of the kicks we do in Kuk Sool involve turning your back heel just slightly, relieve pressure from the back knee, and increase the power of the kick. Kicking into a punching bag, or another person, provides a repulsive force that actually makes such kicks easier to do, while remaining standing. When doing these kicks, I believe it is important to have good enough balance to rotate your heel, peform a quick, powerful kick, then rotate it back and return to your original stance. The controll necesarry for doing this is lost when you hit another object. I work on this on my own quite a bit, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, to see just how balanced I am, and just how much controll I have.

    Third of all, there is the matter of range of motion. I realize that in a fight, your range of motion will probably not be cut short by any more than it is when kicking a bag, or in sparring, but I believe it is also important to feel the full range of a kick, the way the joints line up, the way the power changes as the leg moves outward, and the way your balance shifts at the end. Who knows, perhaps some day you will have to kick someone who moves back farther than expected while you execute the kick, but you still want to hit him. Perhaps you will miss all together, and will need to stay in controll. Or perhaps, knowing how powerfull your kick is at different points, you will want to back up and execute a round kick from a different part of the leg/foot.

    Much of this can be applied to punching as well. Before I even hit a punching bag, I knew what a strong fast, fully extended (and probably bad for the elbows) punch felt like. When I started hitting a bag, my punches felt a little bit weaker than I would have liked, and I worked to emulate some of the feeling and motion that I had achieved while punching into the air.

    Having hopefully established the importance of drilling hand and foot strikes before trying them in sparring, I would like to move on to a discussion of forms.

    At the most basic level, forms are combinations of punches, kicks, and blocks. If nothing else, they should at least provide simple drilling of these moves. A kick in the air is a kick in the air, provided it is done well, and doing it in a form should be no less beneficial than doing it outside of one.

    In warmups, we often repeatedly practice our forms, after drilling individual kicks an punches. In this case, it becomes, in part, another way of drilling punches, kicks, and blocks, which have already been organized, so that you practice a wide range of techniques.

    Another reason that we often drill forms in warmups, is because they are good excercize. Key Cho Hyung, the white belt form, is quite long, and requires quite a bit of work. Going through it several times quickly gives you a very good cardiovascular workout. Going through it several time slowly, especially with low stances works your leg muscles, and gives you a very good lower body, anaerobic workout.

    The low stances, which we often practice our kicks from outside of the forms, have importance beyond pure excercize. I've heard it said on this form that super low stances lead to bad habits for street fights, and indeed I do agree that super low stances can be a hinderance in real fights, but they aren't always. Even in fencing, we practiced low stances, and when sparing (still in fencing), I used something very similar to kong kyo jase. When grappling, I often find myself in need of additional stability, which can often be achieved by dropping my stance lower. I know that in many instances a low stance can make it difficult to move, or easy to get hit, and I probably would never use quite as low of a stance in real life as I do in practice, but low stances can often mean stability, which is a good thing. And no matter how much I practice incredibly low stances, the kind of ridiculously low stance that would make it difficult to fight, will never feel natural, will always make me tired, and will never become my go to stance for real combat. Practicing stances that are "too low" probably won't develop bad habits.

    In addition to giving the practitioner the ability to excercize low stances, practicing low stances in the forms gives the practitioner the necessarry traning to be able to move in low stances. No matter how long you practice your horse stance sitting still, there is no garauntee that you will be able to ever move around in a stable manner from horse stance, and there is even a lower probability that you will ever be able to execute a good kick coming out of horse stance. Forms provide this practice. In real life, even though you may never need to do a kick from a really low stance, if you can do a kick from there, you can do it from anywhere.

    For example, in Joon Geup Hyung, there is a spin kick (dora chagi) which is executed from long stance. This is much more difficult than executing it from a more upright position, but the point is to improve the practitioner's spin kick. Now, I have a pretty lousy spin kick, but I do believe that practicing Joon Geup Hyung is helping me.

    But what's the point of practicing a spin kick, you might ask? Why do really high kicks that you should, and would, never use on the street? First of all, before I try to make my point, I would like to say that I understand the danger of high kicks, and head kicking. In a tournament last year, that didn't involve ground fighting, I accidentally knocked people down on more than one occasion, when they tried to kick my head, by either blocking, or attacking at the same time. That being said, I don't believe such kicks are completely useless.

    There is, of course, the argument that high kicks, and spin kicks help stretch your muscles, which is 100% true. Also, as with doing kicks from a low stance, I believe that working on high kicks improves your balance and mechanics in a way that makes low kicks much easier. If you can do a super high kick, doing a low kick should be no problem. However, I believe that working on high kicks may actually give you skills that you could use in a combat situation.

    Right now I don't feel skilled enough, but perhaps after 16 or 20 years of practice, I will be able to kick well enough, and judge well enough, to be able to perform head kicks, or spin kicks on my opponent. Say what you will about spin kicks, but a study was done, by measuring the damage of various kicks on cadavers, that showed the spin kick was the most powerull and damaging of any kick. In addition, especially when fighting more than one opponent, you may find yourself in a situation where your limbs are not in convenient places, but you still need to push someone away with a kick, or where you realize that an interesting opportunity has presented itself to do a complex kick. Such opportunities may be rare, but the ability to take advantage of them is probably part of what separates a great fighter from a good one.

    In addition, forms combine movements and attacks in a way that you may not have thought of before, and which is unique to your style. They not only give you ideas on how to combine various strikes and kicks, but give you practice in the execution of something which might be a very effective, but very difficult combination. At the very least, experiencing the movments of forms gives you experience in the type of movements that are supposed to be effective in, and which are unique to, your martial art. Before I began studying Kuk Sool, I moved like a fencer. Now, I move like a Kuk Sool Won practitioner. I have gotten used to more fluidity, and less linearity in my movement, and feel like I can combine attacks and blocks in a way that I never could before.

    Even if I had found that forms didn't work for me, I would still not be very quick to dismiss them, since they have been in use, and produced quality fighters, since at least 1000 B.C., from when there are records of Greek Pankration fighters using a sort of dance to hone their combat abilities.

    This may be a modern era, but that doesn't mean that we necesarrily have access to better ways of learning how to fight. We may have pads, which allow us to do harder sparring without getting hurt, but in the past, often times people didn't care about getting hurt. I have heard that Korean warriors used to practice in such a way that a mistake on one person's part could lead to him getting killed or maimed by another. Sparring isn't anything new, and I don't believe that it can truly be a substitute for forms.

    Similarly, I don't think that forms are a substitute for everything else, but my point is that they are an important, incredibly useful, part of training.

    And finally, no matter what, I will always love foms. They are beautiful and intriguing, and even if someone here can prove to me that they are of no value whatsoever, I will continue to practice them. Many people may find them to be a great source of enjoyment, and if you are one of those people, that is a good enough reason to practice them.
  2. TheMightyMcClaw

    TheMightyMcClaw Dashing Space Pirate

    Interesting stuff.

    I always view forms as a type of record. Since writing a manual isn't nescessarily an option, a form allows you to put complex techniques in a way that can be easily tought to and remembered by others.
  3. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    AZeitung...amen, i'm with you man...
  4. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    What I'm about to say is nothing that hasn't been said before millions of times on this board, and some may find it offensive due to the art they do. I will be as polite and respectful as I can but this is my honest opinion.

    IMHO... the problem with katas, air hitting and similar methods is that they're dead training drills with no resistance. This means that techniques develop in ways which aren't applicable to fights without varying them beyond recognition, and useful instinctive habits are not developed. I'll give the example of my old TSD club; although of course your school may work very differently, I believe I probably used similar methods to you.

    The first drill we did in a lesson was "air basics" like you discussed, walking up and down the hall practicing stepping forward and punching/blocking/whatever. The fact that there was no resisting opponent in front of us meant that this dead training became a focus of our lesson, and here it was shown in the overcomplicated movements involved in executing simple attacks and blocks. The basic techniques were too complicated to call on instinctively in a fight and too slow to be effective, as a direct result of a dead training method. Had there been a live opponent in front of us, the habits would have been forced to develop differently.

    The second drill we did was forms, and this suffered from the same problem. Aesthetic "coolness" seemed to be the order of the day, and practical effectiveness was confused with looking good.

    The third drill was three or one step sparring. Both of these drills involved an "opponent" moving towards you with an attack, then you blocking and countering. IMO, the crucial skill with blocking (if you're going to do it) is being able to do it fast enough to deflect a fast incoming attack, with any damage you cause to the limb as a side effect if anything. This drill did not teach you to block quickly as your opponent made poor telegraphed punches which you defended against with slow hard blocks. You could make the most ridiculous counter attacks this side of the WWE because your "opponent" wasn't following the attacks up with anything else.

    A fourth drill was speed kicking. Being an art with a korean basis, TSD put a big emphasis on kicks, and speed kicking was where your partner held a kickbag for you and you had to hit it 50 times with each leg. The result of having to hit it so many times in a short time limit was that people would barely touch the bag and their technique suffered horribly.

    Free sparring was the only training drill we did with any element of aliveness. Even it had its shortcomings, and big ones at that, but at least it developed reactions. What was worthy of note was that, when people found themselves in a situation with a moving, resisting opponent, TSD techniques were thrown out of the window. The stances were higher with different hand positions, everyone did jabs instead of reverse punches, everyone did simple soft brushing blocks rather than hard blocks... I'm sure you get the picture. They found that, in a live situation, TSD was too slow and too impractical.

    Of course, you should learn to do the basics in the air first, otherwise you'd be groping around in the dark trying to work out what you were supposed to be doing. But this kind of training should be kept to a minimum IMO, just enough so that you get the idea so that you can then apply it in fighting. If the technique is so complicated that it takes loads and loads and loads of practicing it in the air to get it right, you're wasting training time that could be spent on applying more simple, practical and realistic techniques.

    The big wake-up call for me was starting judo. This was EXACTLY how they trained - you learn the move, then you spar, and you spend far more time sparring than learning the move because it's a far more efficient use of training time. You can throw all kinds of accusations at judo, it doesn't contain striking (at least not these days), it's just a sport, etc etc, but it is good at what it aims to do because the people practice what they are supposed to be doing i.e. grappling. It's just like anything else, practice makes perfect. Any other hobby which requires skill is best learned by practicing, what's different about martial arts?

    Let's be more specific for a moment. Let's take your theory that sparring isnt a good drill for developing punching technique. I would say that provided you receive guidance from a coach it is an EXCELLENT drill for improving your punching technique, and by that I mean the punching technique that you will actually have in a real fight with the adrenalin going and some thug giving you grief. In sparring, you practice performing the technique under pressure against someone who isn't just going to let you stand there and do it to them. Your ability to perform your technique well in other situations means nothing if you can't perform it well in sparring.

    Of course, your aim in martial arts may not be to become an effective fighter. To each their own. But live training drills with realistic conditions will IMO develop far more applicable fighting habits than dead training drills against the air or a compliant partner. Practice makes perfect.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2004
  5. Gary Crawford

    Gary Crawford New Member

    AZietung, First let me compliment you on writing so well.I wish I could communicate as well as you.The thing that got my attention is your fencing experience.You must have exelent footwork.I sounds like you are definatly enjoying what you are doing now and you are articulate and open minded.Don't change that.If you ever decide to expand past your current style,I'd say you have outstanding potential for Jeet Kone Do.I came from an extensive Kenpo background and found that learning JKD didn't take anything away from those skills.I just became a better fighter.Learning the fencing footwork was (and still is after 5 yrs) the most challenging part for me,but each time I sparr,it feels more natural. Even though JKD has no Kata's,I still enjoy them.I think they are a fundemental part of learning basics.That's why I never recommend JKD to students with no previous martial arts. Spin kicks-Keep working on them.If you like to see how well they work for someone who is extremely quick,go watch a USTU/WTF Teakwondo tournament.If you are quick enough,they are a very good weapon(especially from a close distance).Just my two cents.
  6. Ikken Hisatsu

    Ikken Hisatsu New Member

    jeez louise that was a long post.

    quite right. the best way to DEVELOP your punching is by sparring.
    yep, again you hit it on the head, and then missed out the crucial part- once you know the technique you will only get better at it by practicing against someone who is fighting back.

    speak for yourself.
    funny, because if you go to any muay thai camp thats how kicks are delivered. maybe slightly less force than if they were in a fight, but if I didnt block a headkick from my teacher I would be out cold.
    uh sure. ever seen someone killed by a head kick in any martial sport? doesnt happen, unless you weigh 300 pounds and are fighting off a 12 year old girl.
    you feel? you dont KNOW though do you? so why not find out? spar in a realistic manner and you will quickly find out how much hurt you can do with a kick. continue kicking air, and you will continue to "feel".

    . of course you have to know what to do when you miss. part of the reason for shadow boxing in muay thai is so that you can control your leg if it misses. this is not the only way to develop balance though, it is a secondary manner. you know the best way? kick a moving target that is trying to kick you. that way you will learn timing and knowing when to kick will become instinctive. this applies to your next point as well so we will skip that.

    to a much lesser extent than kicks (if you continually fall over throwing punches its your technique, not your balance). and of course they felt weaker, because you are stepping up a level from punching air.

    doing a set of moves is not a bad thing. doing them in a completely static way, against the air, is. in muay thai, we will be hitting pads as hard as we can as fast as we can. the footwork changes, if you slip a little it doesnt matter- you will remember what made you slip next time and correct it. doing a static form, EXACTLY the same way each time, teaches nothing that could not be taught better through basic partner drills.

    I thought so too. when I did kung fu, our higher level katas were quite tiring, lots of spinning and jumping about. however doing a pattern of attacks as fast and hard as you can on a pad is leagues above it. i was one of the fittest people at my kung fu kwoon- when i went to muay thai, I was nothing compared to them.

    anything to convince me or is this rhetoric? I see absolutely no advantage to training in a low stance. if you want leg endurance, go running. you want power, go lift weights. a static low stance makes you flat footed, slow, and a very easy target.
    yes but you are in that stance for a short amount of time arent you? you arent just sitting there in a low stance (unless you enjoy people using you for leg reaps)
    riding a cycle will prepare you for riding a motorcycle. you obviously dont see what is wrong with this statement if that is your attitude. to me, i would think- "well why not just ride the motorcycle to begin with?"
    yes it will. when the adrenalin hits we resort to what is ingrained in us. if you always practice low stances thats what you will go into, simple as that. you practice how you play.

    interesting how you use the term "real life" to divide what you do from what would actually happen. thats false by the way, for the same reason i stated above. learning to kick from a regular fighting stance will teach you to kick. learning to kick from a stance you will never be in in a fight will only hinder you.

    while high kicks are dangerous, they can pay off. higher risk=higher payoff (or at least thats the idea). I agree with you here.

    again we come to the fact that you think but dont know because you have never tried it. muay thai and kyokushin fighters are renowned for their leg kicks. how do you suppose that is? because they practice low kicks? :shock horror:
    the mechanics of a high kick and a low kick are different. practicing high kicks makes you good at high kicks, not low kicks. very simple.

    thank god it doesnt take anyone who gets into the ring that long.
    ok whoah. on cadavers? how old exactly was this test? and power has little do with usability. how many knock outs do you see by a spinning kick compared to a plain roundhouse kick on combat sports?
    true. being prepared for anything makes you a good fighter. preparing a move you will probably never use when you could be developing a move you use often makes you a dumb fighter.

    even better way to develop combinations? put on some gloves and practice with an opponent. god this is too easy.

    so you think we should go back 3000 years in our training methods because you once saw an inscription on a wall with wrestlers dancing?

    and back then, life was cheap. you can practice like that if you want to develop arthritis at age 40 and live in pain for the last 30 years of your life. you say it cant be a substitute? funny, because I look around and all the pro fighters of today seem to think otherwise.

    quite right. you do it because you enjoy it and so long as you do, theres no reason to stop. thats the overwheliming reason behind everything- enjoyment. if you dont enjoy life, you lose.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2004
  7. Jang Bong

    Jang Bong Speak softly....big stick

    Tim - a very nicely returned 'opposing view' to AZeitung's well presented thoughts (far more civilised than some of the comments in the "Kata - why the hate?" thread :D)

    The highlighted words in this quote allow everyone on MAP to get along - good work.

    After saying that - I'm still PRO-kata, as I am looking to learn an art and not just how to fight well. If I become an effective fighter as a side-effect of that, then so much the better ;) if I'm ever unlucky enough to need to use these skills. :(

    Other arts (you mention Judo in a 'sporting' sense) where active competition is expected as part of taking up the 'art' means that students already have a combat mentality. Nothing derogatory - they simply know going to class number 1 that at some point someone is going to try and knock their block off. There are others learning these arts (like me) that would be quite happy going through life without ever raising a hand to someone.

    I use our kata like the scales and finger-exercises from my childhood piano lessons - between them they contain all the basics, from which I can pick out the specifics I need. By learning them and disecting them, we have a blueprint we can return to without having to memorise x-dozen individual drills (so as not to miss a technique).
  8. Melanie

    Melanie Bend the rules somewhat.. Supporter

    I have to say some very valid points were brought up. But most importantly:

    "you do it because you enjoy it and so long as you do, theres no reason to stop. thats the overwhelming reason behind everything- enjoyment. if you dont enjoy life, you lose."
  9. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission


    Fair enough!

    I think the crucial thing about judo is that, in the lesson and in compettition, you learn it as a sport. It's a physically rough but fairly safe and very fun game and many people enjoy it purely for this. Therefore, the combat mentality you mention is somewhat different, as you often feel like you're training for a sport rather than a martial art. This is also why sports martial artists are generally not the knuckleheads they're made out to be (I'm just saying, I know you're not suggesting that they are). However, judo is both, and my real-life grappling skills are developing well by playing this "game".

    OK, I have three questions here.

    1) How much training time do you devote merely to practicing the kata, rather than applying its techniques?
    2) Are the techniques you use in kata the same as the ones you use in live drills?
    3) If I have the right idea here, what you're saying is that your kata is like a reference book full of information on the basic techniques. Therefore, they would be impossible to remember by doing things like pad drills alone, compared to boxing where there are only four basic attacks. If this is the case, is this multitude of techniques really necessary when you could simply use a few that work and do live drills with them?

    IMO this is one of the biggest problems created by complex arts. You learn several techniques which perform the same purpose, so they're too confusing to do live drills with. Many are also too dangerous to do live drills with. If you can't do a live drill with a technique it's highly unlikely to be reliable, especially given the very small target areas of such techniques (eyes, throat) which require pinpoint accuracy. However, if the art is designed to be simple and practicable from the outset, rather than simply learning as many ways to hurt someone as possible, training time is spent far more efficiently and good habits develop through live training. I really believe this was the core problem of the TSD I did - there was too much emphasis on simply "knowing" millions of techniques as a means to effective fighting ability and as a result the applicability of the art as a whole suffered horrendously.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2004
  10. ubermint

    ubermint Banned Banned

    Yes, but here's an important detail: We go from dead drill to alive drill to full out sparring within the course of about an hour. One class.
    The technique is always immediately applicable. That's aliveness in a nutshell.

    This doesn't apply to Muay Thai. The MT kicks are first learned with a bag. When shadowboxing you have to kick in the same manner as if you were hitting a person, which entails commiting yourself fully to the kick. Muay Thai kicks are so commited that a missed kick will cause you to spin around or land awkwardly, so it's best to start with something to impact.

    Nope. With good equipment, you can hit with full force. Not all the time, but it can be done.

    "One strike, one kill" is a myth.

    Again, you think. Not to be rude, but it's a large assumption. If you don't regularly spar with these kicks, your likelyhood of being able to hurt anyone with them is very low.

    This article explains things a lot better than I can:
  11. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    kime is firmness, not one-hit kills, it is achieved by tensing only the fist so that the movement comes out strong but does not slow down.
  12. Infrazael

    Infrazael Banned Banned

    I believe that forms should be learned, then completely destroyed by the practitioner, who then puts it back together, piece by piece, slowly examining every piece, and weighing the effectiveness, power, and practicality behind each piece.

    If i truly believe a technique is useless, i'll not practice it with drills. however, those techniques/combos in which i find to be extremely powerful and effective, i will practice over and over again.

    I believe that all forms are ONLY good if you systematically analyze it, and practice it TO YOUR FORMAT, NOT to the format in which it was taught.
  13. tswolfman

    tswolfman New Member

    I Agree with the Last Post in that you have to Analize Each Part of the Forms for the Best Benefit. Although Forms were put together for particular reasons and you should look at those reasons along with what the indivual techniques are.
  14. Jang Bong

    Jang Bong Speak softly....big stick

    1) This needs to be directed to the guys in class who get to 2 or 3 of the sessions per week rather than my measily Sunday morning session. Sunday is a mixed bag, and is the main source of the 'weapons' element - the other two sessions have a far higher proportion of sparring and bagwork. (Different training venue - different equipment)

    The forms are used to mark belt progression - we learn and memorise them, and use them for solo workouts (without equipment). Our instructor is more likely in class to set up a senario, give us a 'technique' to use, and then ask "Which form?" - reminding us that everything is there in the 'reference book'.

    2) The techniques are directly from the forms for the 'perfect attack' ;) but we are then moved into adapting to the real world where very little is perfect. So a move will start the same way, but could move 2 or 3 ways depending on 'what happens next'.

    3) We have 'favoured' techniques for 'real life' problems - these we drill more regularly and agressively than other techniques. After saying that - the origins of the 'arts' must have taken decades to develop into a form that can be passed on as a whole. (I know - some MA's are fairly recent as far as forms etc are concerned, but I'm talking about the old stuff :) )

    This is my difference in view between 'learning to finish a fight quickly', and 'learning the whole of an art'. It takes a full knowledge and a great deal of ego to say "I don't think we need this part - I'm not teaching it - let it die".

    We drill in a safe manner using techniques / targets that will work - but are then instructed in the minor adaptations that would make them dangerous. An example from our last class (before Christmas) involved a takedown with a kick to the back of the leg. We drilled it by kicking the calf muscle - but were then told how to make the technique devistating if we ever needed to. If in real life we 'followed the drill', then it would work to an extent - we simply know that it could do a lot more damage if we pick our target differently.

    We talk a lot about the affects of adrenaline / fear / surprise. My instructor believes that if you do not put yourself in danger on a regular basis, then in a 'real life' situation you will only remember 1 technique in 20. If you only know 20 techniques, then you'd better hope the 1 you remember is the one that counts. If you have learned (over the years) 200 techniques, and seen even more, then your chances increase in proportion. (It is always possible that the situation you end up in actively reminds you of the correct answer)

    Hopefullly in this wide world of MA - there is something for everyone. You pays your money and you takes your choice.
  15. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    I don't agree with this. If you're used to using techniques in live sparring then all the ones you need will come to you instinctively. Boxers don't forget how to do right hooks.
  16. Jang Bong

    Jang Bong Speak softly....big stick

    My instructor has far more life and combat (MA competition, and possibly other) experience than me, so I'm not going to contradict him ;) His wisdom is a combination of personal experience, and accumulation of information over the years - including work with the prison service (staff and inmates).

    Since you told me there are only 4 attacks, I should hope they don't :D:D This example does step aside my idea of people who are 'not used to fight situations' - boxers are used to it and actively seek it.

    Taking my musical analogy in a different direction... I learned quite a few guitar chords back at school - and I can follow a list of chords and make the music sound like it should. I am neither a guitarist nor an entertainer by my view of things.

    There are some people who learn 3 or 4 chords, practice them again and again, and go out making lots of money - good luck to them. Then there are others who learn all the chords, and a variety of styles of strumming, plucking, and in other ways 'twanging' the strings. They play from a wide variety of musical styles, and can adapt to changing situations. Technically speaking, both groups are 'guitarists' and may even be 'entertainers', they simply followed different directions along the same path.

    If everyone decided that 3 or 4 chords were enough to make music, and that is all anyone learned, then everything else would die out. Fortunately there are an infinite variety of musicians, and an equal number of 'martial artists' - all good, all valid, and no degradation to any of them.

    Regarding the 'numbers of techniques needed' - another bit of wisdom is that every technique has a counter. [Please don't bombard me with "well how would you deal with...." because I'm just learning :)] If you meet someone who knows the counter to each of your 2-3 dozen good techniques, then you're in trouble :D
  17. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    He has a lot more than me as well. But, with all due respect, I don't think we should start slinging credentials at each other, otherwise we'll all just start quoting "experts" and the discussion will be boring and fruitless :p

    Why not actively seek it but with mitigations for safety?

    I do see your point, but playing guitar is different to fighting. You can afford to plan ahead with what you're going to do and simply put the plan into motion, whether you use 3 chords or 30. It's not the same kind of skill. Fighting is different, you need quick reactions with reliable techniques.

    Simply knowing the counter isn't enough. Being used to applying the counter is what is needed.
  18. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    Well, to be fair, this is the articles forum :p
  19. Gyaku

    Gyaku Valued Member

    A polite thread on kata. Nice and refreshing.

    What do people think about the analogy between kata and shadow boxing?
    I often think the aspect of shadow boxing that makes it effective is visualisation. Could the same measure of effectiveness be applied to kata, if visualisation techniques were also used?
  20. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    If the moves people did in katas were the same as the moves they really planned to fight using, yes, otherwise the visualisation would be unrealistic.

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