Kata & Forms

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    Positives & Negatives of Kata
    What are the positive and negative aspects of kata? And when I say kata, I mean Karate kata, Taekwondo forms & patterns, Wushu Taolu, etc. For example, some of the positives of kata include solo training, muscle memory of different techniques, fitness aspects, etc. Kata negatives include imaginary opponents that "don't hit back", it can be too slow, etc.

    We have a lot of Karate and Taekwondo members so I am sure we can come up with many more positives. We also have a number of members who do not use and/or dislike kata... and I am sure that they can help with the negatives. :)

    The wiki has a page with some of the benefits and perceived drawbacks of kata but I would like to expand it with your help - http://www.blackbeltwiki.com/benefits-of-kata

    Remember this is supposed to be a friendly kata discussion... so please no attacks on anyone's beliefs about kata. Thanks!

    Will
    Black Belt Wiki
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      Nuria Macia TKD As all you guys have pointed out if we can't find the value of Kata/Poomsae is because they haven't been taught correctly, I couldn't agree more with that statement. I also think it depends on the maturity of the martial artist and how deeply involved wants to get in the martial art.
      Besides all the benefits mentioned in the wiki page which I endorse, I find poomsae a way of dynamic meditation. As they say in this article from The Journal of the International Association of Taekwondo Research - http://www.jiatr.org/archive/index.html?gubun=4&no=19&year=2016&vol=3&ho=1&page=26&ifv=1 "The training of poomsae has its own end; independent from kyorugi training, this end is found in healing and harmonizing oneself with the control of qi"
      However, so far I've never seen a Dojang teaching poomsae as dynamic meditation. What do you guys think about this aspect of Poomsae? I would be happy to hear your thoughts! Thanks!
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      Will - Black Belt Wiki Due to everyone's comments, I have added two more kata benefits to the wiki page - http://www.blackbeltwiki.com/benefits-of-kata

      1. Honor the ancient traditions of a martial arts since kata has been taught for centuries.
      2. Slow kata can be used a form of "moving meditation" or "dynamic mediation".

      Will
      Black Belt Wiki
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      PAUL (paldo) REYNOLDS Kata: my favorite past time ! meaning I highly support Kata and I've spend a live-time of it and still do ! I will repeat, as I've mentioned in many other threads, that kata is essential to the basics of karate development. Without kata development you will not be able to recognize a strike and defend against it in time. Most folks don't like kata for various reasons, but I think its because they arn't being taught correctly and they don't practice bunkei, the practicality of kata development. One, two, three to five step sparring drills are included. This takes time,( not weeks like a college course), to develop and along with your belt levels and belt degrees. Most advanced karate-ka understand its value when devoted to it and become proficient. The true value of kata comes when you have become very experienced and grasped the various entities in which you can combat the techniques much easily. Grappling is the furtherance of kata for locks, holds, and throws to truely understand the karate kata. Without kata development your development will be prolonged and depressive. Grappling moves are strong moves performing faster at the beginning then decreasde speed and increase tension. The reality is to grab your opponent quickly, then apply the lock or hold.This pertains to karate and not to other martial arts although I would include Taekwondo. Pros: memory increase, quicker reflections, cooler pace and more intelligent thinking in sparring, proficiencey in contact in withholding killing techniques, body and mind control and self-satisfaction. I also find solo kata without a partner my thing as to say, for I let in the spirituality portion of it in the quiet time of a dojo. This is where I perfect my contact, techniques without a bag or with a bag in control of killing techniques and controlling speed contacts. Kumite practice is the test of solo and partner practices while withholding any killing techniques. Hard bags develop your feet and hands and good for jumping techniques, and applying strong kicks and punches equalizing to breaking strength ! Hard bags should only be used for experienced karate-ka who have developed good techniques where injuries should not occur. Other Pros are: softer bags are used for those inexperience karate-ka where mistakes can be make without breaking bones etc. Kata can also be used in stress relief, body building, exercise, sleep depressions, and group or unit parrings (kata drills) for timing and coordination of movements in fast and slow paces.
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    Competition Kata - Improvement Techniques
    This year I've taken my first step towards competitions, see me in action on the Members Showcase, and I'm serious about performing Kata at competition.

    What I would like is tips on improving myself and techniques/skills for competition kata
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      PAUL (paldo) REYNOLDS Hi all ! KATA, my favorite past time! The question is what are the tips to improve. @ Andy & @ Will - Black Belt Wiki advice is real good. My addition is: know the meaning to the kata and emplify the movements to show its meaning. This is what judges look for besides the obvious things as timing etc. You must show CONFIDENCE in your presentation and complete focus. Confur with your higher level practictioners or sensei for periodic feedback while you practice, practice, and practice. The mental aspect becomes more of a challenge than the physical one. When you recognize it for your self, then you are ready to be judged in your next competition. Not to be redundant, but Andy's technical advice must be taken seriously adhered to or you fail technically. You must be totally prepared physically and most of all, mentally!! Good luck.
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      Andy Ok joking aside :)
      I agree with @Will - Black Belt Wiki and @James, to achieve fluidity (and avoid robotic transition which i still maintain is not inherent in ANY martial art when learned to a sufficient degree despite what some other members think!) break the Kata down into elements, practice the foot work separately focusing on the transition of the stance from one position to the next, practice the basic elements (the Kihon involved in the kata separately (as you do in everyday training, remember that Kihon and kata are not supposed to be separate elements but part of the whole), watch demonstrations of the kata you are going to perform by other practitioners on YouTube and in class (you can learn from more experienced practitioners by watching for the minute pauses in the relevant places and the overall execution of how they perform the kata and you can also learn from watching other less
      experienced practitioners by being critical and observing where you think they could have done things better).
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      Superamazingbadgerman How does it feel to do the form?

      I know judges don't tend to like my forms (I don't have "snap" or "power", whatever that means), but I've found that EVERYTHING works MUCH better when I don't care what it looks like and focus on what it does and how it feels instead.

      I noticed in the video you posted that you're always doing one of two things with your posture-- leaning forward or letting your torso sink backward. When you do that long stance, it's HUGE. When you do anything with your hands, it's very stiff.

      What that tells me is you're putting ALL the attention into your hands and arms or your legs and feet or your upper torso. You're SO focused on making your limbs show the judges what they want to see, you're forgetting about your center (dead center hips).

      That point is what holds EVERYTHING together. You literally revolve around it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      If you focus on controlling that point and you don't hurry or over extend yourself or think about any other part of your body too much (which creates odd, oversized stances and motions and off balances you as you experienced), it's gonna fix most (if not all) of those problems you had.

      If that doesn't work, imagine taking all your feelings of heaviness or stiffness or tension (whatever feeling unintentionally tensed up muscle groups give you) and letting it flow down into your legs. That's another way to accomplish the same thing.
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    Siljun Dobup "Real Sword Training" Art Forms (Kata)
    A sampling of Siljun Dobup Art Forms (Kata) - Set Ji (Earth), Set Soo (Water), Set Poong (Wind), Set Hwa (Fire) and Set Cheon (Sky).
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      David N Well done.
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      Ben Nice and efficient.

      Coolness...
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      Will - Black Belt Wiki [187953,Brandon]

      Nice! I like how you never take your eyes off the target.

      One question (asked as a non-katana person) - Why do you sheath your sword and then pull it out part way & resheath it a second time?

      Will
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    Tournament flops (and how to deal with it)
    I personally always strive for perfection. I pay as much attention to subtle details as possible. The turn of a the wrist, the shift of the hips, consistency of stances, etc. as a result, when I practice for a competition I am aiming to perform my best and let the judges determine how I fair amongst my competitors. No matter where I have placed I have always been satisfied with the results because I know I did my best.

    This weekend, that didn’t happen. Early into my weapons kata I knocked my glasses half off my face in what became a downward spiral of everything that you are NOT supposed to do in a tournament. Being left effectively blind, I focused hard on the kata—so much so, I forgot the first Kia in a very obvious place. When refocusing on my breathing and kias, I suddenly realized that I didn’t know what the last move I did during a segment change, so I didn’t know which part was left. Once I started again the damage was done as the pause was too long to be deliberate showmanship. Lastly, while finishing the kata my last step was too farceful and I visibly stumble to regain my balance.

    I was a white belt all over again and couldn’t have been more embarrassed.

    In the past month, my worst performance for that kata was the only one that mattered. It has been 2 days now and it still pains me to think about it.

    Have you ever had an experience like this and how have you dealt with it?
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      Kim Had a similar bad day once--missed a break, even after dropping down a board for the final attempt, then messed up my form, went blank, and just started making moves up. Got to the front of the form and could not figure out a way to get back to my starting spot (important in our style). I hope the judges didn't hear me cuss under my breath because that happened, too. My husband, parents, most of the instructors, and all the other adult class students were there, too, and it was really embarrassing. And it was 6 weeks before my first black belt exam (to earn my probationary BB). That tournament was a really bad day, but a really bad day doing something I love, that is fun, and that I'm thankful every day that I GET to do. It helps to keep it in perspective- it isn't life or death, and even as a hobby- I have probably done that form a couple hundred times in practice, class, or exams and not had any problems with it. It was basically one "at-bat" in my TKD career, and I screwed it up. Bad. But it wasn't my only at-bat... I have been able to do a lot more TKD since then.
      I wish there was something I could tell you to help you get over it. That night one of my instructors told me that the same thing happened to him in the same ring at that competition the year before and that everybody messes up at least once and it is ok. That helped and I just had to get back on the horse to get ready to test. I treated it as a humility check and went back to working hard. You will get past it. Keep working. :)
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      Michael Thank you everyone for your responses. I guess what I was really asking is if anyone has choaked to the point of being embarrassed and how they recovered from that (or even better, utilized that experience to be a better martial artist)

      I wonder watched a video from Jesse Encamp where he stated that no matter how he does at a tournament, afterwards he celebrates with Ice Cream, cause he deserved it.
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      Richie Tournaments are for your self-growth, learn from every loss and every win. Don't think about the whole event as a mistake and "bad" think about what you need to improve on. If you are going in expecting to be Mr. Badass and rule the day then I am sorry.

      "Just keep swiming, just keep swiming"
      Dory
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    Top 10 Ways to Practice Kata
    These are not originally written by me, but they are my top 10 favorite methods of practicing all of my kata. These are methods that I actively use in my own practice.

    1.) Practice kihon. By practicing these basic techniques (known as “kihon waza”), you will magically improve every single kata you know. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.

    2.) Practice smaller sequences of the kata. Narrow it down and just practice specific sequences in order to improve the whole.

    3.) Do the kata with just your lower body and then with just your upper body. Isolate the singularity of each movement.

    4.) Do the kata as slowly as you can with 100% singularity of technique. Focus on the feeling of total body movement with each transition.

    5.) Do the kata with your eyes closed. Shutting off a sense will significantly increase the awareness and focus of your other senses.

    6.) Do the kata in your head (visualize). Our brains are surprisingly bad at discerning whether something happens in real life or “just” in our imagination. Use this to your advantage to practice your kata on the bus, at the grocery store, in the shower, at work, in bed or wherever.

    7.) Do the kata in your everyday clothes. Shoes too. Are your movements suddenly becoming impractical? Why? That’s just silly. Make them practical.

    8.) Roll a dice. Do the kata as many times as the dice shows. Choose another kata. Roll the dice again. Et cetera. Repeat for a set amount of time.

    9.) Do the kata and pretend you’re “angry”. You’ll evetually dip into the limbic system (lizard brain) and actually become angry. That’s when things happen. You might cry. That’s okay. Nobody needs to see. It’s all about learning to ride your emotions, channeling them through the kata, eventually getting into the flow. With practice, you will be able to flip this switch instantly.

    10.) Lastly, just do the whole kata as if your life depended on it. No second thoughts. No looking back. No retreat. No surrender. Take no prisoners. If your gi isn’t totally messed up, and your belt isn’t on the ground next to a pool of vomit and a pool of sweat, then well, old sport, you probably just didn’t try hard enough. Try again. Refocus.
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      Aaron Bennett Osu!
      Thank you from a newbie. Numbers 2, 6 and 9 were super useful info. Perhaps the most useful I've been offered in my Kyokushin journey thus far.
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    Design the Perfect Karate Kata or Taekwondo Form
    If you were a wise old master or sensei, how would you design the perfect NEW kata or form for low level black belts? What would you put in this perfect kata or form?

    Would it consist of paired kata or solo kata? Would it be fast or slow? Would it be one minute or twenty minutes long? Would consist of multiple advanced moves or just a variety of basic techniques? Hundreds of steps or only 20?

    This question is NOT asking what is the best existing kata or form. Rather it is asking you to design a new form or kata. Create your own ultimate kata or form!!

    Please explain why you added certain elements to your perfect kata/form and why your kata/form would be useful for low level black belts.

    Will
    Black Belt Wiki
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      Andy [171668,Will - Black Belt Wiki], here's one I have been working on,
      From Shizentai (or natural stance), put your left leg in, left leg out, in out in out then shake it all about, do the hokey Kokey and you turn around and that's what it's all about. :)
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      Chris Ashcraft To answer the question, I would take a look at contemporary fights, against both experienced and inexperienced fighters. After studying these encounters, I would look at my roster of techniques, both striking and throwing, and put them into a natural flow. When the form is done, each section of the form would represent a type of encounter, and have several options of how to deal with the attach codified into the movement. This, it would be a series of forms, not a single form to represent the fighting philosophy.
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      Trent Zelazny LOVE this post! I want to give this a bit of thought :)
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    Low Roundhouse Kick Tutorial
    Since we are talking about low kicks, I thought you might be interested in this video. I will also post a Muay Thai low kick video in a second or two.

    Will
    Black Belt Wiki
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      Jonie Lynelle Spivey Enjoyed this tutorial. I used to do high roundhouse kicks always but it's better to mix it up. Thanks.
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    Help tracing kanji for kata
    In my spare time (laughing!!) I have started taking sho-do classes. This is partly to understand more kanji when I see it and help with Japanese in general and partly to help with a larger project I am doing to preserve the history of our style. Anyway I was wondering if anyone could point me to (preferably) kanji or otherwise kana (katakana I guess) for the following Kata: Surinja (and also what the word surinja really means), Empi Ha (as cf Empi) and tenshoa (as cf tensho) from USA Urban Goju Ryu, and Wanduan (as cf Wando if the kanji are different) and Hakkucho from Shorinji Kempo / Shorin Ryu (Okinawan). We have a lot of kata in our system as it is comprise of 3 systems (pretty much in their entirity!) so I want to get the Japanese right before I get stuck in too much further. Don't get me wrong it's going to be a fun project but I want it to be accurate. Thanks in advance.
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      Michael Keep in mind, many Kata names are a transliteration of Chinese (typically a Chinese person's name). For example, Empi Ha cannot be a Japanese name, as all consonants must be followed by a vowel (except "n"). Therefore the closest Japanese could be Enpi Ha. The only Enpi I found in Japanese is 猿臂, which means "monkey arm". In other words, I think you need to first find the origin of the name to find out if it can be represented in Kanji/hirogana or if katakana is needed (which would be the case for any non-Japanese word).
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      Andy Hi [172080,Rachel DS], sounds like an excellent project, I'm afraid my Japanese is rudimentary at best so I can't realy help, you could try this http://www.sljfaq.org/cgi/kanjiabc.cgi, though to be honest the results can be a bit hit and miss. On the subject of Kanji being changed to suit, the original meaning of Karate was China hand but the kanji for China (kara) was later changed to mean 'empty' (as in Karaoke which translates as empty box) so now karate is translated as empty hand (as I am sure you and many of our other members will be aware).
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      Rachel DS Hi - yeh....been kinda busy and about to get busier.....more on that later.....after it's all said and done. ;) Re the kata. I mostly want the kanji for the kata (I have gathered most of them); the ones I am missing are the really old ones (tomari-te based mostly so perhaps lost to the sands of time and then reinvented) and the newest ones (urban goju ryu - which were developed or modified by a westerner so his Japanese may not have been as good as a native speaker). There are also other random things that I have found in my research about masters just assigning random kanji and changing names / kanji as they saw fit....all well and good but makes tracing these things kinda tricky! In terms of our styles history I am focusing mostly from okinawan origins to the present day and the development of our style, but I will probably do something brief on Daruma (Bhodidarma)....depending on what I can find as I really think the poems he wrote are great and very applicable. Also Sho do is really great....there are lots of parallels between that and budo activities even some of the stroke names I found familiar ....probably why Bun bu ryo do is a thing - lol.
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    How to overcome stage fright when performing a kata...
    When practicing my kata at home I do ok – performing even in front of one person I tend to freeze up and forget everything….so frustrating.
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      Will - Black Belt Wiki You might like to read the articles below on how to deal with stage fright. They have some tips like "Give up trying to be perfect and know that it is OK to make mistakes", "Try to limit caffeine, sugar, and alcohol as much as possible", "Practice ways to calm and relax your mind and body, such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, yoga, and meditation", "Really know your content inside out and practice (preferably in front of a live audience) as much as possible to build your confidence", "Arrive Early Obviously, if you are late, this will only heighten your anxiety. Arrive early and acclimate to your surroundings", etc.

      http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder/treatment/conquering-stage-fright
      http://smallbiztrends.com/2015/10/overcome-stage-fright-speaking-in-public.html
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      Al W [213195,Jody] [171807,Andy] You never know, dutch courage may be what the Shihan ordered lol
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      Jody [199522,PAUL (paldo) REYNOLDS] , [171807,Andy] , @AI W, [212430,James] , [171668,Will - Black Belt Wiki]
      Thank you everyone for your suggestions - I'm going to try them all. :)
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    Which kata would you retain?
    If you had to disregard all of the kata that you have learned with the exception of one, which would you keep hold of, and why? What sets it apart from the other kata in your arsenal?
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      Andy Up until now I have refrained from answering this question, the reason why is simply because I can't! I believe that ALL kata and forms have something important to offer! I shall however post some examples of (in my opinion) excellent weapon kata as requested by @Will - Black Belt Wiki starting with https://youtu.be/APTur6EEqaY, https://youtu.be/STtxUDYjK74, https://youtu.be/uV3OKsvWDyA, https://youtu.be/HYQtwOVNrpA
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      timothy Up untill now I think that there are only karate katas mentoned. But another, in my opinion, truly beutiful kata is the Itsutsu-no-kata from judo. take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBv2lJdH7vc
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      Christopher Adamchek very thought provoking question
      id go with gekisai dai ichi
      its simple, covers different heights, blocks, ect. good self defense bunkai
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    Is Tai Chi a real, natural, instinctive martial art?
    Are there too many set moves and patterns in Tai Chi? Is Tai Chi becoming too rigid for a flexible martial art?
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      Richie I have used Tai Chi in a fight. It is all about getting away from your attacker by throwing/tripping and strikes to vital areas. As all things it is all about the Sifu/instructor. It is hard to find a true Tai Chi "Chuan" studio. I mostly see just Tai Chi which is just the exercise and not the martial apps.
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      Goldin Christie I think both, the stylists try to stick too rigidly to each style and by doing so they are starting to look like robots, not as soft as the arts are meant to be, an example would be, I punch with my left fist and you defend with cranes beak and then stop, reset and then you punch with your left fist and I will block with needle at sea bottom
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      timothy what do you mean with "rigid"? Because I don't think that if done correctly your body is rigid. Or do you mean the system is too rigid (not evolving(?)) for being a "flexible martial art"?
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    Is kata useful or useless?
    Some martial arts value and use kata (forms) extensively (i.e. Karate & Taekwondo). Other martial arts find very little value in kata (i.e. Boxing and BJJ).

    Do you think that kata has any value?

    Some martial artists think kata is useful because it teaches things such as memorization, balance, basic techniques, visualization, etc Moreover, they think it is especially useful for younger color belts and/or when used as bunkai (practicing kata attacks and defenses with a partner).

    Others are in the middle. They think sparring with a partner is much more useful. However, they see solo kata as useful if you have to train alone (i.e. outside the dojo). Similar to using a kicking dummy, solo kata is seen as a way of practicing techniques without a live partner.

    In contrast, there are many martial artists who feel that kata is a waste of time. They believe it is impractical because it does not teach students how to deal with a live and unpredictable opponent.

    On Black Belt Wiki, we have a poll that asks about the utility of kata - http://www.blackbeltwiki.com/what-is-your-opinion-about-the-utility-of-martial-arts-forms

    Most "voters" answered that they loved kata (almost 50% of the poll voters). Only 6% said that they hated kata and/or that kata was not practical.

    What do you think about kata? Useful? Useless? Or somewhere in between?

    For more information about kata, please visit the main Kata & Forms section - http://www.blackbeltwiki.com/forms

    Will
    Black Belt Wiki
    http://www.blackbeltwiki.com
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      (deleted) started off in shotokan. then kyokushinkai. i used to enjoy kata as a workout. but dropped it in favour of muat thai which has no kata. i turned pro as a boxer and thai boxer and did no kata for many years. i "rediscovered" kata after retiring from pro fighting and saw the value of having a foundation for your fighting system. some solid paterns to practice specific technique as well as the all round health benefits of doing kata. it is also good to look into the practical application(s) of the movements and techniques. i thought it was fun when i took up martial arts. forgot about it. then discovered the great value of practicing kata. it is incredibly important and stands you in good stead your whole life. obviously though it has to be taught properly...and ideally not changed by commanding ranks every couple of years. it also gives the practisioner a syllabus to work to when not at the dojo...or on holiday etc.
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      Kenneth Winthrop Another way to look at kata is to consider the following supposed you were in the far East in the 1800's and you came upon a martial art master who was willing to teach you techniques from his style. You spent some time with him and learned many techniques. How would you remember what he has taught you you ask. He says to you within the katas I have taught you there are all the techniques you have learned from me. I leave you with this wisdom. I also leave you with one other bit of information every move you have learned has within it both defensive and offensive techniques. All you have learned is contained within them. So keeping this in mind take a kata that you have learned and see how many self defense applications you can find. You will be amazed,
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      James Anderson Hi everybody,
      The great question of katas. There are techniques within katas that are very useful. If we look at basic blocks such as a high defend open hand. We know that it is useful. Basic front kicks, side kicks and round house are useful as well. These type of moves are incorporated into our katas, or at least some them. Right? After all being a black is only stating that you have or should have mastered the basics techniques in your art. If we are honest with ourselves full contact fighting shows us a good idea of what works and what does not in our art and our technique as well as our true skill level. I also was not talking about full contact on a professional level either. Amateur and novice full contact under controlled environments works too.
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    Kata prep for tournaments
    So what are some of the off the wall ways you practice kata for tournaments?

    My old dojo would take turns practicing the kata with various distractions.
    1. Loud music with people yelling (nothing mean, just noise).
    2. Blind folded or eyes closed.
    3. Throwing dodge ball at the person performing the kata to try and break their concentration.
    4. Doing the kata in a different orientation inside the dojo. You would be surprised how many people get put off by this.
    5. Of course we would go through how to bow into the ring and address the judges.

    These were real popular with the kids and the adults tolerated it until they messed up and then would get into it.

    ChuckD
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      Richie 4 for sure!!!
      Really just practice, don't change anything the week before. I got messed up once. Day of another sensei gave a tweek and I decided to change it, no good.

      Also, mark out the kata. People get messed up if there is to much room and more likely to small space. Last touney, I was at someone miss judged and had to kick over the judges. They were to green to adjust on the fly.
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      Michael Blindfolded?! 😳. That’s crazy to me. Props to anyone who can pull that off.

      I do 1, 4, and 5.

      We do some serious distractions a little more aggressive than #3 for black belt test, but that’s the only time
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    Most popular kata video with 6+ million Youtube views
    I thought that you might like to watch this extremely popular kata video from the 2010 WKF World Championships Belgrade.

    Two gold stars for the first member to identify this kata! :)

    Will
    Black Belt Wiki
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    Forms: Speed vs. Accuracy
    So in my dojo we always do forms toward the end of the night. However I noticed that a lot of people go very quickly through them and sometimes it seem like their speed henders their accuracy of the move. Some people mover quite slow but their moves are more accurate and precise.
    So which is better? To move and a decent pace and have more precise movements, or to move with great speed but lose some quality to the form?

    Thanks for your opinions.
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      Mark Merrill In my training style (Uechiryu) our first and foremost kata is Sanchin and we practice this form in three speeds. First very very slow for strength and breathing and the third as fast as you possibly can trying to hold your technique together. The second speed is the average speed a kata is done but this time with utmost attention to form. The goal is to learn to take your breathing and strength from the first slow kata and the speed from the third one and strive to perfect your form and technique in the second Sanchin kata. If your techniques are not sharp, strong and fast they won't work.
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      Christopher Adamchek if you cant do it slow, you cant do it fast
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      Taekwondo Ninja I believe it is better to do a pattern slowly and practice accurate movement, then to do it quickly and have sloppy technique. Once you have the technique down you can start speeding up your pattern.
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