Tag Archives: karate kata

Practicality of Combat Style Karate Kata, and…

…What a Modern Classical Karate Kata Looks Like

With the advent of Krav Maga, Systema, Sanshou, Jeet Kune Do and MMA people don’t fight like they used to, and one has to examine the functionality of Combat Karate Katas.

People are faster, more vicious, more likely to use power base kicks rather than simple jab type front kicks, and worse they like to go to the ground.

What does this mean for the traditional combat style kata?  Does this mean they are useless?

Personally, I don’t think so.  However, other people do.

While I do not suppose I can speak for him,  Kancho Joko Ninomiya, the founder of Enshin appears to feel that kata are necessary but the old ones don’t quite cut it in the modern world.

If you are unfamiliar with Enshin, here is a quick run down on it.  Kancho Joko Ninomiya won the 1974 All Japan Karate Championships (a Kyokushin bare-knuckle full contact championship).  Then he moved to America and founded his own karate style, using his own bare-knuckle tournament to evolve the style.

When he started to create his own kata, he kept the traditions of kata, but made them fit the new style.  He also didn’t bother with fancy names, instead the names are things like “shiro obi no kata”, or “ao obi no kata”, literally they are “white belt kata” and “blue belt kata” respectively.  However, they include things that were heavily used in Kyokushin, but don’t exist in the original katas like Sanchin and Seisan, things like boxing style jab/cross combinations.

So, this is what a modern kata looks like, and following that are its bunkai (application).

Interested in more combat style Karate? Check out Temple Karate at MonsterMartialArts.com

Martial Arts Kata, Prison or Essential Tool?

Martial Arts Kata, Good or Bad?

in the Martial Arts Kata are often translated as martial arts forms, so I use the terms interchangeably.

Bruce Lee said in “The Tao of Jeet Kune Do” the following about forms:

“Too much horsing around with unrealistic stances and classic forms and rituals is just too artificial and mechanical, and doesn’t really prepare the student for actual combat.”

karate kung fu pa kua chang martial arts book

Click on the Cover!

Is this true? Or is it meaningful, do forms actually teach you combat? Certainly looking at Pinan/Heian 1, or Kenpo Long 1, you have to wonder, is this meaningful? Are they honestly expecting me to drop the opposite hand when I block and punch?  And why are they having me drop my hands when in sparring they tell me to keep my hands up?

Even with something so entrenched as Sanchin, or the Sil Lum Tao those that lack correct teaching have to wonder, “how is this teaching me to fight?”.

In stark contrast are kata such as sanseirui, where it is very apparent that the kata is truly a combat scenario that captured and formalized into a form. This is evidenced by the lack of symmetry in the form, you don’t have “do the exact same thing on the other side” or “first do it on the right, then on the left”.

But do any of them provide you with anything useful? Or do they lock you into a routine.

Bruce was an incredible man, certainly what he said must have some value.  Besides, if not for forms, how do we transmit the style, untarnished, to the next generation?

The problem with Bruce, is that he was amazing. He was so amazing that somewhere along the line he seems to have forgotten that you have to explain to a new student how to make a fist, not to punch with the flat part of your fist, to line up the bones, to add CBM.  We can see that he knew this, for he said (paraphrasing here) “before I learned to punch, a punch was just a punch, while I was learning, a punch was much more than a punch.  Now, a punch is just a punch”.  However, he repeatedly wanted to throw away all the tools that are used to learn basics.

To quote my sensei, “you have to have a set of basics before you start learning to break free of the forms”.

I feel that all forms are intended to serve a purpose, but what is that purpose?

Let us start with the so simple that they are obnoxious forms, like the early Kenpo forms and the Pinans.  They are not meant to be combat forms, they are meant to be a way to train symmetry, and to familiarize you with the “alphabet of movement” that your system trains.  Think of the movements in these forms as “this is my footwork, these are my blocks, these are my strikes,  there are many like them, but these are mine”.  Symmetry is important, you need to be able to block, thrust, flick, parry and strike on both sides, these forms teach you exactly that, and they force you to practice equally on both sides.  Bruce may have been so good that he only needed five techniques and only those on his lead side, but that doesn’t account for most people, nor does it address what you are supposed to do if you get injured during combat.

So basic, boring forms have a purpose, even if it is only training.  However, when we go back to the question of dropping the hand, you do have to stop and wonder why practice something that we would never want to do in combat.   This is where I personally feel that some of these forms are less valuable than they could be.

Sanchin appears to be one of these boring beginner forms; however, it is an exceptional kata, Please see the earlier article I wrote on Sanchin (add a link to the other blog post).  My sensei was fond of saying that he could tell your belt level by watching your performance of Sanchin.

The Sil lum tao, is also a form that appears to be on the boring scale, however, it is a very internal form. It is meant to isolate the hand movements used in Wing Chun so they can be practiced separately from any foot movement, and to build Chi power.  These 2 aspects mean that it can be practiced and improved on for the rest of your life, just like Sanchin.

None of the seemingly boring kata teach you to fight, not even sanchin.  They may teach you many critical elements of fighting, blocks and strikes that you can combine, a clear calm mind, the ability to take a hit and continue. These things and more can be learned from kata.

Learning to fight from a kata though?  That is tough, there are people that have been reputed to have done so, I have a very hard time believing that.

In my mind the only way to improve reflexes, and learn to handle unexpected things is to get into sparring (at all contact levels) with as many different people as possible.  Try to get with people of different levels, different arts, and no arts.

In my personal opinion, I feel kata are very important, both for handing down the style, uncompromised. They are critical for training your body to use all the different tools in the styles toolbox.

I do not feel that they are a prison, rather an encyclopedia of motion and much more.  In my mind all kata should give you as many tools as Sanchin, Sil lum tao and Sanseirui.   However, if the form teaches you to do dangerous things, like drop your hands, you might want to re-evaluate the validity of that particular form.

If you want to align and make logical your Martial Arts Kata, check out the Master Instructor Course at MonsterMartialArts.com.

How to Fix the Martial Arts

Matrixing the Martial Arts to Make them Work.

As you know
the internet is a great place to share ideas.
I recently ran into a thought,
rather well stated,
and certainly believed in by many,
concerning one of the moves in Pinan 1.

In that form,
specifically in the movement
where you are going up or down the center of the form,
you reach the end,
and you are expected to turn the head
and look to the side,
then spin the body the other way to handle a threat.

I disagree with this
for the simple reason
that it is important to trust what you know,
to build ‘knowingness’
not to turn the head in the wrong direction
and waste time looking
when you should have been doing.

So,
here is my response.
It is on the ‘Martial Arts’ group
on Linkedin.
I like this group because they are pretty smart,
they say things well,
and they do make lots of good points,
and they seem to be really thinking about stuff.
Anyway,
here is my response,

….If you look, then you didn’t know, and that means you weren’t doing karate. Real karate is when you know what is going to happen, or, worse case scenario, you move without knowing and what you do is still correct.

If you smack granny in the gums then you were reacting, not knowing, or doing something other than Karate.
Or just doing Karate from a beginner’s viewpoint.

People with reaction time look.
People who trust their ‘knowingness’ don’t react, they are intuitive.

You can actually break this thing of reactivity to knowingness on a scale.
A white belt sees, then thinks, then reacts.
A green belt sees, then reacts.
A brown belt reacts.
A black belt acts.
A master acts before. Or…acts between the time thought becomes action on the part of his opponent.

A great analogy to this is the fielder who takes off ‘at the crack of the bat.’ Not after he sees where the ball is going. He takes off because he has assimilated enough data and knows where the ball is going.

It is actually easy to get from having to look to knowing, but most martial arts I see are not that advanced yet. All my courses are designed with this in mind. The idea is to align the postures and motion correctly, thent he mind can start to assimilate fast enough to become intuitive.

For instancet…let’s consider that first move of a beginning form where you look before you leap, or turn and block.

If you look first, then you have instigated action in the wrong direction, you have turned the wrong way with one body part, and now you have to fix that and make the whole body go in the other direction. Thus, this first screws up the coordinated motion of the body.

And, to be honest, the move is stupid anyway. Who, among you, is going to see somebody to the right and go BACKWARDS to the left? Honestly, the old master who thunk that one up didn’t put on his thinking cap.

The correct way to do it,the way to fix this bad motion, is to push with the leg that is bent (not the leg that is straight out behind), go to the left, AWAY from the attack. This increases distance, which gives time (time is distance), and enables better strategy and positioning.

And, my points having been made, we judge harshly those who don’t turn their heads in the wrong direction and breaking up their coordination by splitting the directions they are going in, and acting with lookingness instead of knowingness.

Okay. I’m done. Got some toe balm if I’ve stepped on any, and I’ll even apologize if I have said this all too impolitely.

But consider my points, do the motion, figure out the difference between physically looking and spiritually knowing.

Have a great work out!
Al from monstermartialarts

There you go,
thoughts in action.
The thing is
this stuff is on one of my courses.
Don’t remember which one,
but what we are trying to do here is enlighten.

There are a LOT of people who do things like this,
looking the wrong way and then spinning,
and not really understanding what the move means,
and they aren’t bad martial artists,
but they have just bought into martial arts systems and thinking
that are lacking in logic and other details.

Okay dokey,
don’t mean to type and run,
but trying to get out of town for the weekend.

So check out Temple Karate.
I fix a LOT of the classical moves.
It’s how I look at the forms after almost fifty years in the arts.
Mind you,
I am gentle in correcting classical forms.
I believe in classical forms,
but mostly I believe in fixing them.
That’s what matrixing is about,
fixing things.

Here’s the link to Temple…
http://monstermartialarts.com/martial-arts/temple-karate/

So have a GREAT work out!
And I’ll talk to you later.
Al

Do Karate Kata Work? Or Is It a Waste of Time?

Are Karate Kata a Waste of Time?

This story, or what happened to me while learning Karate Kata, is absolutely true.

I was a first brown back about ’72, and one day a bunch of us young belts were talking about whether Karate Kata worked. The instructor, a fellow name of Ron Maletti, who nobody has ever heard of, heard us talking, and he got a tight grin.

best karate kata

Endless blocking drills backed up our Karate Kata.

He lined us up and freestyled us, one at a time, and said he would only use applications from the Pinans. For the next fifteen minutes he hit us, kicked us, threw us, using nothing but EXACT applications of the form. Maybe a wiggle of motion to set up his response, but he used only applications exactly as we practiced them.

Then he said, “This is too easy. Name a karate kata.” So when we freestyled we would bow, name a form, and he would defeat us using an exact application from the form we named. Pinans, sip su, kima chodan (horse form or tekki), or whatever, he knocked us down and laid us out, and at the end of the time he wasn’t even breathing hard. And two things to note: one, he had maybe five or six years experience, and was a third degree black belt. And, he wasn’t the best upper belt in the school. He just happened to be the one to hear us in our heresy.

So, do karate kata work?

They do when they are taught properly by people who know what they mean, who know the drills that go along with them, who are dedicated to learning the system and don’t bother with all the new stuff coming along. Unfortunately, I don’t see the martial arts being taught in this manner, and people have pretty much forgotten the drills and real applications. Guarenteed, this is a true story, it happened to me personally. Have a great work out! Al from MonsterMartialArts(dot)com.

That’s the way it was at the Kang Duk Won, and that’s the system this site is dedicated to. The real system that resulted in real power, fantastic fighters, the ability to take a strike anywhere…and it was, is, FUN to do!

Click here to check out why you should study karate kata.

I Got Your Karate Lessons Right Here…Only $2!

Karate Lessons for Only $2?

How much Karate can you learn for $2? Eh?

Well, maybe a lot, especially if you have $2 to spend on the Best Online Karate Lessons in the World.

This Karate Lessons are actually a course, and it takes a person right from white belt through black belt.

karate lessons

This guy hasn’t heard the news!

The question is…is it worth the money.

Consider the contents of the first of the karate lessons, the white belt to orange belt level. On that lesson you get a check list to go through. The checklist is thorough.

You get a section on how to do warm ups.

You get a link to a section on Karate basics, all done in video.

You get advice on how to do Martial Arts Katas and techniques.

You get a part on how to do the first Karate Kata, or form.

You get a section on how to do the applications so they will REALLY work.

And, you get a BONUS section on how to translate the movements into the methods used by the original founders of the art. This BONUS section itself is worth gold! It takes you back to how and why Karate was invented, and what the original moves had to have been.

And, the thing makes so much sense that you can’t argue!

And, even if you are slow to think and do wish to argue, you can’t stop thinking about this totally original take on what Karate is!

Now, with this much quantity, and, to be honest, this much quality, why is the price so low?

Because there are a lot of people out there who a) believe you can’t trust the net, b) believe that you can’t learn the martial arts off the internet, c) that the thing is a scam!

But who can argue if it only costs two bucks to find out?

The good news is that this lesson isn’t a ‘cheapie’ to entice to learn and then gouge, it is representative of a sequence of prices that are UNBELIEVABLE!

And, the ulterior motive here?

To teach people good, solid Karate. To make them think, to realize, to get strong and powerful.

To make the weak strong, and the bullies into non-bullies.

And, who knows, you might get to loving this spectacular art so much you order other courses!

Of course, it’ll cost you $2 to find out.

Al Case has near 50 years of Martial Arts experience, and was a writer for the Martial Arts Magazines. This course can be found at $2 Karate Lessons!

Basic Karate Form Stands Martial Arts World on Ear!

Basic Karate Form New Method for Teaching old Martial Art!

Let’s face it, most basic karate forms are boring, and couldn’t boredom be the reason many people quite the martial arts early on?

With this in the back of my mind, I decided to create a better basic Karate form. Simply, Iwanted my karate class to be…not boring. I wanted a karate kata that would be fun to do, include all the basics, and actually involve the student.

best karate form

Does your karate form look like this?

Before we get into the form itself, consider that most forms are simply step and block. Step and punch. A piece of a karate move, and not the whole thing. Thus, in addition to being boring, the forms have little value except for indoctrination into how to learn things rotely when in a mass of people.

Can anybody spell first grade?

How about behavior modification? Both good reasons to leave aside long used methods and find a better way of teaching Karate, and the martial arts.

beginner karate

Or does it look like this?

In creating the basic form called ‘House’ I elected to use three basics, the low block, the outward middle block, and the high block. Those are easy enough for a beginner to remember, and real enough for simulated fighting.

I then placed these blocks on a line, and put a punch after each of them.

Thus, there is stance change, weight shift, basics, and the idea that you can actually block and then offer a karate punch, or martial arts strike of some kind.

Now, to tell the truth, Chinese Kenpo, as presented by Ed Parker, had a good idea in their short one basic karate kata. Unfortunately, while the idea of facing all four directions was good, it needlessly complicates the basic function of this kenpo form.

So, in line, three blocks, punches right after each of the blocks, and you have something that means something in real fight simulation, and can be learned quickly and easily, and, here’s an important element, can be upgraded into a more difficult version.

Let’s say you start the student on the first step, a low block and strike, and he can’t quite get it. That’s okay. The martial arts are new to him, and he’s confused. Let him be confused, drill him only on that one move until he gets it, then give him the second move.

Then, drill him on the first and second move till he gets it, his own confusion will keep him entertained, and, finally, he can move to the third move.

Thus, the karate student learns the whole form.

Now, want to keep him drilling? Want to make sure he does the form enough to get the deep down meaning of the moves?

Have him drill it in two man kata fashion.

This is just like one step blocking movements done at the beginning of a Karate class, except that it is a two man form, and the reality of the situation, that is to say the form, is being re-inforced with every single punch. More important, it takes no excessive instruction, you just have the student do the basic karate form and feed it punches.

He will have realization within moments concerning how to do this, and he will be off to the races!

The Karate student thinks he has it?

Ask him to go faster.

Ask him to do it without stepping, in place.

Ask him to do it with weapons! The possibilities are endless, and this simple, basic karate form is suddenly opening doors that are refused to students who learn in the same old same old mass education methods.

If you would like see how this kata works for yourself, click on Basic Karate Forms, if you would like to learn an entire karate system taught in this manner, go to Matrix Karate at Monster Martial Arts.

Martial Arts Training Gives a Great and Hard Body!

Martial Arts Training is the Way to Go!

The truth is that Martial Arts Training will put you in the best physical condition you’ll ever be in.

Doesn’t matter if it’s kung fu or karate or taekwondo, or whatever, the fact is that physical conditioning is part of the program.

I’m 61 in the above vid…and martial arts makes me young and fast!

So, do you want to grow old? Or are you ready to get good!

Now, here’s the key: when you do Karate kata, or Kung Fu forms, or whatever, you are doing physical conditioning. Take a look at the first Kata in Karate: Pinan One. When you do that form you are doing some twenty forward stances. That means you are doing twenty lunges! Furthermore, by doing the lunges on either side, and with the body balanced different ways for different punches and blocks, you are going to get different muscle groups working.

Now, beginners might repeat the form ten times. That’s 200 lunges!

And, when you figure in the different stances, a horse stance is a squat, a kneeling stance is a different type of lunge, and so on, then you end up with an amazingly well rounded and powerful set of legs!

Want to improve the upper body? Hold weights while you do the punches and blocks.

Now, here is the glory that traditional martial arts have, you can do them and do them and do them, and the risk of pulling muscles or otherwise injuring yourself is greatly reduced.

And, IT IS NOT BORING! I can’t tell you how many times I have heard guys complain about the long, boring work out. Well, it’s not boring in a martial arts training center! It’s exciting! Furthermore, in this day and age, you need the self defense training that comes along with this type of conditioning!

I tell you, this type of training will put you in the best shape of your life, and the competitive edge martial arts builds is absolutely cutting edge!

And, here is a great, little bonus! If you don’t feel like going to the gym, you can get yourself some martial arts training videos and really pump up the volume! You can not only work out and get in the best shape of your life, but you can experience all sorts of different martial arts training routines and patterns. Kung Fu, Karate, Aikido, or whatever.

And, here’s something you might like…the best martial arts training videos are available at MonsterMartialArts.com.

zen martial arts