Steve Morris says all forms of Karate are useless

Discussion in 'Karate' started by ronki23, Mar 7, 2018.

  1. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    Okay, that's what I got from your earlier post, but your point seemed to be shifting in the last one.

    So, what would you say are the benefits of kata to fighting?
  2. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    You did? Please read it again. My opinion on forms training is not something I've made up in the twenty minutes between those two posts; it's an opinion I've held for years.

    I've spent seven years learning to fence. Forms training is not part of fencing training. I know darned well forms training is not a necessary part of building skill as a fighter in a combat sport. But I have found it a beneficial practice for me; Shotokan in particular emphasized it, and I didn't find it wasted time.

    I already listed the benefits I personally find in forms training in that previous post you mentioned, but to recap,

    For me, I find it helpful for me in developing body mechanics (keeping weight rooted in movement, synchronizing hip rotations with strikes, keeping elbows in instead of chicken-winging, proper use of breath, proper spine alignment). That's not to say it's the only way to develop those body mechanics. But it's one way to do so, and for me personally, I think it's been very useful.

    And because I enjoy them, I'm personally more likely to do forms training during a spare hour than a more monotonous drill that develops the same skill.

    I've got joint issues (some old injuries), and I find forms training easier on them than hard bag-work and hard pad work. That's not to say that I don't do hard pad work or hard bag work--I do it and I place extremely high value on it (in my opinion, padwork and bagwork are not just "useful" but "necessary"), but I don't think I could replace all the kihon and kata training I do in a week with padwork and bagwork without aggravating those old injuries. There's only so much punishment my shoulder and my knee are going to take in a week before they get mad at me.
  3. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    I think it was your comparing of professional fighters with amateurs doing kata that threw me off.

    I still think that you're using strange comparisons though - why compare kata to bag and pad work?
  4. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    I'm not the one who started that comparison. I was responding to a post that basically said that amateur hobbyists should just use whatever methods professional fighters use, and if professional fighters don't use X methods, amateur hobbyists shouldn't either. And I was saying that there might be very reasons that a particular exercise can be valuable to an amateur hobbyist even if it's not essential for a professional fighter, because the needs are not always aligned.

    Because of the common assertion that each chunk of time spent doing kata would be better spent doing additional bag and pad work. Like in the post I quoted and responded to, which said "Well logically if it made you better at fighting, fighters would be doing it.... religiously. Some fighters do forms but not all of them. All of them lift, all day of them hit pads, all of them spar."
  5. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    This needs quoting just because it's so damn valid. MMA is a multi-million dollar sport. If anyone created a system, training methodology or technique that turned MMA athletes into better fighters, it would have been adopted already and its creator would be doing show-and-tell on MTV Cribs (they still make that show, right?). The idea that something martial artsy isn't a feature of regular MMA training because it's too valid is absolute baloney. MMA is probably the most realistic quality assurance test for "real fighting" we can have outside of real violence.
    axelb likes this.
  6. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Valued Member MAP 2017 Gold Award

    I think the closest and most fair comparison is actually shadow boxing. And all fighters shadowbox.
  7. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    I hate Kata: you'll probably never see me doing one and that's been the case for about 13yrs.

    That aside, I appreciate mitlov's point and would agree with him.

    In my opinion the most charitable way to view Kata is as a suboptimal use of training time that is never-the-less not devoid of benefit.

    I honestly think the parallels between shadow boxing and Kata are hugely overstated, to the point of inaccuracy.
  8. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    In shadow boxing you tend to work on techniques that work for you in sparring and combinations you want to refine and use, its free form and do exactly from the stance you use in fighting

    Forms are non of the above really
  9. ned

    ned Valued Member

    Forms are necessary in TCMA to teach function ( as well as correct structure,stance,mechanics etc. ) to movements which otherwise
    would be empty.

    Therefore they need to be learnt along side drilling of applications, the form broken down into individual pieces,to understand how it feels 'live'
    and the individual form can also have this mental link ingrained.
    Chen also uses silk reeling and push hands to train the mental link and combine it with varying levels of contact but it varies between trainers.

    There are of course some folk's doing forms who are in essence just waving their arms in the air without fully being engaged with true function
    since there is a multitude of reasons (and more power to them) why people choose to learn taiji and other TCMA's
    and fighting is just one and more often than not a low priority.

    Shadow boxing has similarities i.e mental link,intent, correct structure etc. but has spontaneity which forms lack.
  10. Simon

    Simon Moved on Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    The correct question is, how good is your shadow boxing and how good is your kata?

    You should also ask yourself how good you are today against how good you were yesterday.
    Hannibal, axelb and Travess like this.
  11. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    I thought the question should be Is your training in line with your goals

    and is what you are doing helping you reach those goals in the most efficient manner
    Why get better at something that isn't helping you reach your goals??
  12. Simon

    Simon Moved on Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    Same question asked differently.

    If you train kata correctly it'll help you reach your goal.

    Likewise for shadow boxing.

    I'm sure we've both seen enough dross in either discipline.
    Hannibal likes this.
  13. axelb

    axelb Master of Office Chair Fu

    If you have learnt forms/kata as part of your beginning journey, then I can see it as a beneficial reference.

    For a professional fighter to then start learning kata, I believe the benefit would be negligible as much of the function will have been learnt to a high degree, and in some cases this can conflict with the method of technique execution you may have learnt.

    Many places that teach forms as part of their syllabus can spend a large part of class working on just the form. Not always the case, I have seen clubs that have a reasonable distribution of kata to drills, pad work or sparring, but a few I trained at spent 80% or more of the class times just doing forms, no breakdown (bunkai).

    I think that this reflects on the opposing sides observation on forms, as they can see people spend much time on form development over any other factor.

    In my time training I've learnt at least 15 forms that I can recall, most of which were part of the syllabus.

    On reflection of my journey, I could have spent a large part of that time on more effectively transferable skills, and I think many in the anti forms category see this happening to others in form based martial arts.
  14. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    In the states there's a trainer called David Ross he was a direct disciple of a man voted a national treasure in china, a man with lineage in multiple Chinese arts and a man who had killed people in various wars.

    Thiss master it would not be an exaggeration to say knew hundreds of forms and variations (he was a lneage holder in CLF, hung gar, lama, had trained in bak mei and so on, from the age of 7 and was still training with his main master when he was in his 50s.

    David Ross trained multiple nationals and world sanda champions and he never taught them a single form, he said he found a better way to instill all the theorises and techniques in his fighters by using the same principles as most sports use there was no need to use out dated methods to transfer information...

    When asked what his master thought of this, he said his master had fought in three wars he was all for training the most realistic and best way, he also said his master taught forms to whomever paid him to to not because he believed they were necessary
  15. Fish Of Doom

    Fish Of Doom Will : Mind : Motion Supporter

    I'm going to chime in as someone who loves kata but in great part agrees with what I've quoted from Knee Rider.

    Forms are solo biomechanics training, as are formal basics, or kihon-waza in Karate lingo, that is, standardized movements with specific, usually functional or descriptive names, and at the very least nominal purposes, although those are often ignored as the biomechanics are abstract and can be extrapolated to other uses. If you train them, you can and should do them as partner drills as well with a variety of intensities and contact levels, as part of a "controlled environment" sort of training, as a progression towards, and complement to, more freeform drilling that should be fed into by the formal basics and form training, which should in turn feed back into them for constant refining of both. This two-way feedback loop also MUST include both formal and freeform drilling of "applications", scare-quoted because I mean the training of movements derived from the biomechanics of the form, not "this move is and has always been X so we will do X against Y attack that justifies it", which is how you end up with ridiculous hogwash that just makes us all look silly as many forms and movements are so old (and mutated is varying ways) that few if any people actually know what the original version was and/or for what it was intended.

    Now, again, forms are a solo training method. If you have training partners available, choosing solo training over partner drilling is asinine. It's like calling up a pad holder and going off to do bagwork. Of course in a style with forms the forms must be learned, and the form's biomechanics practiced and corrected under supervision, which does take up training time, but there are HUGE differences between "doing" a form (practicing the sequence as-is), "performing" it (in the performance art sense, ala forms competitions), "training" it (exploring the biomechanics contained, trying out variations, focusing on specific sequences, rearranging them, etc), and training based on it (using it on someone else, against varying resistance, to see what works and what doesn't, and why, then fixing it).

    Regarding shadow boxing, I see them as a similar kind of thing, but not the same thing per se (to a degree that is perhaps irreconcilable). Shadowboxing when done right (we can all be Bruce Lee if we're going solo, of course) should reflect offensive and defensive movement principles as done when in a realistic two+ person context, ie it should not be entire abstract, even while isolated into a solo context. Kihon on the other hand is (in its standard form) entirely abstract. Each "technique" is an exercise or a piece of an exercise that teaches to do certain things with one's own body (that is, also isolated). Partner drilling removes some of the isolation while leaving much of the abstraction as techniques are exchanged instead of actions being performed. Kata is equally isolated, and abstraction-wise it is a sort of middle ground, as it's not quite composed of a collection of kihon-waza as-is, but rather is a solo interpretation of the bodymechanics of particular actions, or in some cases merely a pantomime of them, modified over time for whatever reasons, often becoming even more abstract (see: all the myriad things that are interpreted as a Fireman's throw and lack even the most basic lifting action that one would need for one, and all that's been lost due to insistence on things like keeping a vertical torso and generally looking tall and proud for performance art reasons). You can, as part of the training of a form, do "shadowboxing" sequences based on the form's sequences (as you should also do partner drills, padwork/bagwork, etc based on them), but the form itself is not a form of shadowboxing but rather a different, complementary tool, the classical forms of which have in many cases been badly mangled by a long game of telephone.

    I love forms and kihon-waza for their own sake because I find them enjoyable, and I have derived benefit from their practice, but it's been a judicious practice of select parts of all of it, all cross-referenced with free-form training and partner drills, not simply "I do kata therefore I can fight" (not that anyone's implied that, just clarifying my own thoughts). Could forms be of benefit to a high-level MMA fighter? I would mostly say "no, BUT". I would not go around teaching any MMA fighters any forms with the intent of them going and applying them in the cage, but there are such forms as are intended to mostly train many basic biomechanics sometimes in lieu of specific fighting sequences (for example the Sanchin/Saam-chiem/San-zhan family, the crane-derived kata Happoren, the Shotokan kata Hangetsu, etc), and such forms as are intended to train one's athleticism as well as involving fighting sequences (see Shotokan, Northern Mantis, Choy Lee Fut, etc), the concept of which at least is something that I think could have a place, using minimal training time, in improving someone's movement in general (of course improving someone's movement guarantees nothing, it is simply one tool among many, most of which are admittedly very obviously far better tested).

    As an aside, I've always wanted to create an "MMA kata" just for giggles, just to see what comes out of it :p
  16. David Harrison

    David Harrison MAPper without portfolio

    To me, this looks like adding an unnecessary step.

    I understand the argument for preserving the mechanics and principles of a system, but if you are being taught by someone who understands that then why do you need rote sequences to pass that on? Why add a level of abstraction?

    I've got nothing against people doing forms, if it floats their boat, but a lot of the arguments for it seem to boil down to tradition, rather than function, as far as I can see. I also would worry that it works against personal understanding and exploration, because you are always going back to the same sequences rather than developing a deep enough understanding to direct your own development. Like I said before in this thread: I see them as serving the system more than the student.
    axelb and Knee Rider like this.
  17. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Forms are traditional, not necessary there's a big difference between the two
    axelb likes this.
  18. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    No its really not the same question

    one is asking objectively are you getting closer to your goal and is what you are training optimal for the process of getting closer yo your goal

    The other is blindly training something and making it better and having no idea if it is helping you achieve your goal or not or if it is the best use of your time and energy
  19. BohemianRapsody

    BohemianRapsody Valued Member

    I think one of the primary functions of kata in the past was to pass on the syllabus of a style, or of a teacher. Kind of the same thing when you go back far enough. And that kind of transmission makes a certain amount of sense, especially in a time when most people were not literate.

    Coming from a judo background I can confidently say you can do all the solo judo training you want (a la shadow boxing with the correct mechanics) and not know the first thing about judo if you aren’t training with other people and engaging in Randori.

    So for me Kata aren’t so much a valid training methodology but a way or preserving the ‘art’ part of a martial art. So personally I’m not that into them, have to learn them because I’m training at a shotokan school, but I tend to find myself showing up for sparring classes and missing everything else. Grades be damned.

    On the other hand, there are people who train at the same dojo who never spar but love their kata practice. Efficient? No. Valuable component of training fighting skills? Not really. Gets them off the couch and into the gym a few times a week? Sure. Maybe just for that it worth preserving.
  20. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    Surely that would depend on the goal?

    Also the real question is 'does it reach that goal as efficiently as other methods?' and if not 'are you willing to make that concession and train it anyway for other reasons?'

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