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Thread: value of forms/katas

  1. #1
    stickfighter Guest

    value of forms/katas

    Hi everyone:
    I been thinking about traditional forms/katas
    and their value in modern martial arts training. Since most forms/katas were created hundreds of years ago do they have any self-defense value today? For example: say you learn a form from Monkey kung fu(just an example no offence intended to that style), does the rolling leaping and exagerated movements have any real value?
    I am a self taught martial arts of over 15 years with only a little formal training and have only ever learned a couple basic forms/kata(which I can't even remember fully now) and have never been sure of their value in todays society. Looking for your opinions.


  2. #2
    Robinf Guest
    Keep in mind, the human body has not changed from the time all the styles and forms/kata were invented and revised and reformed and continued. They are as relevent today as they were at first inception.

    If you took the time to stick around and actually study an art, you would see that.

    This is not to offend you. I'm sure your martial art is quite useful--practicing fighting for 15 years, you're bound to be good, and I applaud your efforts.

    Surrender yourself to nature, and be all that you are.

  3. #3
    Brat Guest
    As I tried to tell mr wootang on the other board(he obviously didn't read my reply since he asked the same question again today), you have the wrong view of forms. That is in part to the way/category that forms have been utilized here in the west. We in the west have a traditionally Japanese way of looking at the Martial Arts. In fact, we've taken it to extremes that they never would have thought about. In the Kung Fu styles, the forms ARE the style. Everyone learns the forms and THEN learns how to utilize them. In effect, a person could learn a form from a teacher, and then spend the rest of his life mastering it. In the Japanese martial arts, they took it a step further-they developed pre-patterned sparring techniques based on the forms(3 step sparring.) This basically allowed for the "doling out" of techniques over time to students. In the States, we have taken it further. We only concentrate on the sparring and perform the forms to music to win competitions. Forms were originally there to teach the person how to do the individual techniques efficiently and effectively, which means powerfully. This has created a disparity that I find among martial artists everywhere in America-lacking power. It is often a surpise to a well trained American Karateka that aperson wont just fall into a mass of "quivering jelly" after a fancy, flashy diplay of techniques. It is a missconception to most that a person does the forms to use them exactly in the manner that they occur within the form in a real fight. Boxers do what is called the "Joe Louis Shuffle" in conjunction with a left right sequence. Are you going to fight in that manner and pattern when you step into the ring? No. But what it does is that after countless hours of doing the Shuffle, your brain subconciously transcribes the movements so that when you are in the ring, you will move with maximum effeciency and be able to punch with extreme power without thinking about it. Forms in the martial arts are no different.

  4. #4
    jeizen Guest
    Hey stickfighter, I am a white belt in a jiu jitsu school and have only learnt one kata so far. Sorry but I will not be of much help to you. But maybe you can help me.

    I am interested in chinese martial arts but there are no schools in my area. I am trying to do the impossible by learning tai chi chuan from a book. I know that you can not learn it fully without a qualified teacher but I am just to interested. My questions are how do you train, books, video tapes what? Also I would like to know what styles you train in. Who do you spar with to ensure that your techniques are applicable on the streets.

    I would greatly appreciate a response from anyone else. Wish I could have been a little more informative.

  5. #5
    rogue Guest
    What style of JJ?

  6. #6
    jeizen Guest
    Well rogue my style is called don jitsu ryu. It is founded by a 9th dan called Don Jacob. Website is

  7. #7
    stickfighter Guest
    Jeizen: Most of my training ideas come from various influences, magazines, books, videos, ect. I've also come up with some training ideas from watching martial arts and action movies. The key is to have an open mind, look for ideas everywhere. My favorite magazines are Black Belt and Inside Kung Fu, I find they have the best overall coverage. As far as learning Tai Chi, you are better off trying to learn from a video rather than a book, I find it much easier and there are many to choose from.
    RobinF: Thanks for the vote of confidence. There are many various reasons why I've not continued on any one style. In the region that I live access to real training is limited. I trained for awhile in Goju-ryu karate but didn't find it to my liking. Then I trained in Hung Gar & Lohan Shoalin but my Sifu moved to finish his own training. I also trained with a local dojo that taught a self-defense oriented style that didnot involve forms/katas.
    But I've based my solo training on Kung Fu, particularly the Five Animal Style and of course the Filipino styles of Kali, Arnis and escrima.


    [This message has been edited by stickfighter (edited 03-21-2000).]

  8. #8
    rogue Guest
    jeizen, don't take this the wrong way but what's with all of Prof Dons black belts in so many styles, even styles without black belts? I mean 8 black belts? He probably knows what he's doing but he needs to rethink his PR. I always get a little irritated when guys name a style after themselves. Do you study with him personally?

  9. #9
    Katas= useless.

    Jeizen, go find a good judo school in your area. That guy seriously apprears to be full of it. Is there anything he HASN'T done?

    [This message has been edited by Vitor29 (edited 03-22-2000).]

  10. #10
    Wong Fei Hong Guest
    Aaaaargh excuse me while I get stressed why do people not understand that a form or kata is just a collection of the moves you learn so that you can know them all together and remember them easier. You are never going to go on the street and start practising your kata when being mugged by half a dozen 7 foor basketballers.
    Its just like counting ok when you learn to count its easier to learn 123456 if you were taught 25 33 46 65 then you would get confused same thing with forms it collects all the moves and it a good reference.

    <Insert picture of smiley pulling hair out here>

    Eyes Like Lightning
    Fists Like Meteors

  11. #11
    rivers Guest
    people must understand this!!
    without the stances, you have nothing
    you practice the stances first to
    train you muscles to preform the
    moves. with out stances you have no
    foundation. it is like building
    a house on sand. it will be a house
    but it will not be as strong as one
    built with a concrete foundation.

  12. #12
    I think of katas or forms as really long combinations or more practically a bunch of combinations strung together. It's more fun to practice techniques in that fashion than just repeating one move 10 times.

  13. #13
    stickfighter Guest
    Rivers: I agree that stance training is very important, I've developed routines to work my stance/footwork. What I'm unsure of is the value of the type of techniques contain in the traditional form/kata. I mean, what value is a lunge punch in real combat, would you really punch from the hip. Would you really perform some of the spinning, twisting, and jumping movements contained in some of the traditional kung fu forms. I think these forms are ok to learn for traditional and conditioning sake, but shouldn't someone take the time to create some updated forms to reflect more modern fighting?


  14. #14
    JWTAYLOR Guest
    Why is it that people think forms or katas are useless but shadowboxing is ok?


  15. #15
    baji-fist Guest
    I am a practitioner of the Northern Wushu style of Bajiquan. In the past, before converting to Kung fu, I too didn't understand the purpose of forms in real fighting situations. I had a background in TKD and Kali prior to traditional wushu.

    When I was in TKD, I didn't see the efficiency of the Tae guk forms. Also in tkd, the form wasn't really representative of the style, its kicking combos was representative of the style. As for Kali, we learned mostly drills and one form. Although the form seemed to be more of a representative of the the style than TKD.

    Then I began my wushu studies. I then found that the forms of each style was the representative of the style. In styles such as Bajiquan, the forms help build the chi and leg stength to deliver powerful strikes. At a more advance stage, you break down each movement of the style and learn it's fighting applications. Without doing the form first, there is no way you can develop the energy to make each strike count.

    Although most forms were practiced for over many generations, we must remember the political climate of when these forms were created under. Styles such as Preying Mantis and CHen Taijiquan were develop during times of war and family feuds. It's techniques were proven in the battle fields and if your kung fu was not good, you would not live to see another day. Also in places such as Shandong province, were bandits and thieves prey on the innocent, your kung fu techniques needed to be good in order to travel.

    Without learning the forms, I believe that your kung fu will not have the power or coordination to be used in combat. Without learning your ABC's, then how can you learn to build words, then sentences?


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