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Form (martial arts)

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Form (martial arts)

For other uses, see Kata (disambiguation).
Kata
Solo training of kata is the primary form of practice in some martial arts, such as iaidō.
Japanese name
Kanji: 1. 型
2. 形
Hiragana: かた
Kata (型 or 形 literally: "form"?) is a Japanese word describing detailed choreographed patterns of movements practised either solo or in pairs. The term form is used for the corresponding concept in non-Japanese martial arts in general.

Kata are used in many traditional Japanese arts such as theater forms like kabuki and schools of tea ceremony (chadō), but are most commonly known for the presence in the martial arts. Kata are used by most traditional Japanese and Okinawan martial arts, such as aikidō, iaidō, jōdō, jūdō, jūjutsu, kenjutsu, kendō and karate.

Background

Kata originally were teaching and training methods by which successful combat techniques were preserved and passed on. Practicing kata allowed a company of persons to engage in a struggle using a systematic approach, rather than as individuals in a disorderly manner.[1]

The basic goal of kata is to preserve and transmit proven techniques and to practice self-defence. By practicing in a repetitive manner the learner develops the ability to execute those techniques and movements in a natural, reflex-like manner. Systematic practice does not mean permanently rigid. The goal is to internalize the movements and techniques of a kata so they can be executed and adapted under different circumstances, without thought or hesitation. A novice’s actions will look uneven and difficult, while a master’s appear simple and smooth.[2]

The OED records kata as a loanword in English, from the 1950s in reference to the Judo katas due to Jigoro Kano, and from the 1970s also of Karate katas; but the word has come to be used as a generic term for "forms" in martial arts in general, or even figuratively applied to other fields.

Japanese martial arts

In Japanese martial arts practice, kata is often seen as an essential partner to randori training with one complementing the other. However, the actual type and frequency of kata versus randori training varies from art to art. In iaidō, solo kata using the Japanese sword (katana) comprises almost all of the training. Whereas in judo, kata training is de-emphasized and usually only prepared for dan grading.

In kenjutsu, paired kata at the beginners level can appear to be stilted. At higher levels serious injury is prevented only by a high sensitivity of both participants to important concepts being taught and trained for. These include timing and distance, with the kata practiced at high speed. This adjustability of kata training is found in other Japanese arts with roles of attacker and defender often interchanging within the sequence.

Many martial arts use kata for public demonstrations and in competitions, awarding points for such aspects of technique as style, balance, timing, and verisimilitude (appearance of being real).


Karate

Main article: Karate kata

The most popular image associated with kata is that of a karate practitioner performing a series of punches and kicks in the air. The kata are executed as a specified series of approximately 20 to 70 moves, generally with stepping and turning, while attempting to maintain perfect form. There are perhaps 100 kata across the various forms of karate, each with many minor variations. The number of moves in a kata may be referred to in the name of the kata, e.g., Gojūshiho, which means "54 steps." The number of moves may also have links with Buddhist spirituality. The number 108 is significant in Buddhism & Hinduism, signifying the 108 ways the mind can behave (Upanishads) and kata with 54, 36, or 27 moves (divisors of 108) are common. The practitioner is generally counselled to visualize the enemy attacks, and his responses, as actually occurring, and karateka are often told to "read" a kata, to explain the imagined events. The study of the meaning of the movements is referred to as the bunkai, meaning analysis, of the kata.

One explanation of the use of kata is as a reference guide for a set of moves. Not to be used following that "set" pattern but to keep the movements "filed". After learning these kata, this set of learned skills can then be used in a sparring scenario (particularly without points). The main objective here is to try out different combinations of techniques in a safe, practice environment to ultimately find out how to defeat your opponent.

In kata the blocking movements are often performed while moving forward, which wouldn't be practical during the 'Bunkai'. These blocking movements would be performed during a Tai sabaki (体捌き), stepping-back action, where the opponent's attack would be avoided and the block would be a mere cover.


Judo

Main article: Judo kata

Judo has several kata, mostly created in the late 19th century by Kano Jigoro, the founder of judo. The judo kata involve two participants. Judo kata preserve a number of techniques that are not permitted in competition or in randori, including punches, kicks, and the use of the katana and other weapons. The study of kata is usually begun typically at around the green belt level. The most commonly studied judo kata is Nage-no-kata, which consists of fifteen throwing techniques. The Katame-no-kata is composed of pinning techniques, chokes, and joint locks. Kime-no-kata is a long kata consisting of self-defense techniques against both unarmed attacks, and attacks with swords and knives.


Non-Japanese martial arts

While the Japanese term is most well-known in the English language, forms are by no means exclusive to Japan. They have been recorded in China as early as the Tang dynasty, and are today referred to in Mandarin as taolu. In Malay folklore, the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma is said to have introduced preset forms or jurus to silat, while freestyle forms or tari are thought to have developed from indigenous war-dances.[4]

In Korean martial arts such as taekwondo and tangsudo, the word hyung or hyeong is usually employed, though in some cases other words are used. The International Taekwon-Do Federation uses the word tul, while the World Taekwondo Federation uses the word poomsae or simply the English translations "pattern" or "form." Taekwondo patterns have multiple variations including Palgwe and the more popular Taeguk forms used by the WTF. Forms are included in certain taekwondo competitions and are a key element of gradings.

Other Asian martial arts refer to forms by various terms specific to their respective languages, such as the Burmese word aka and the Vietnamese quyen.

Outside of martial arts

More recently, kata has come to be used in English in a more general or figurative sense, referring to any basic form, routine, or pattern of behavior that is practiced to various levels of mastery.[5]

In Japanese language, kata (though written as 方) is a frequently-used suffix meaning “way of doing,” with emphasis on the form and order of the process. Other meanings are “training method” and “formal exercise.” The goal of a painter’s practicing, for example, is to merge his consciousness with his brush; the potter’s with his clay; the garden designer’s with the materials of the garden. Once such mastery is achieved, the theory goes, the doing of a thing perfectly is as easy as thinking it.[6]

One of the things that characterizes an organization’s culture are its kata - its routines of thinking and practice.[7] Edgar Schein suggests an organization's culture helps it cope with its environment,[8] and one meaning of kata is, "a way to keep two things in sync or harmony with one another." A task for leaders and managers is to create and maintain the organizational culture through consistent role modeling, teaching, and coaching, which is in many ways analogous to how martial-arts kata are taught.

See also

References

External links

  • Information on the Kata of Judo.
  • Judo Kata videos.
  • Karate, Okinawan Kobudo and Kendo Kata videos. DEAD LINK as of 2013-05-20
  • karate shotokan kata video. DEAD LINK as of 2013-05-20
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