Friday, February 01, 2008

kata for soccer & basketball - The Great Debate

I've trained in the martial arts for four years. I've spent alot of time learning and enjoying my kata. I've recently become interested in the greater issues and trends in the martial arts and I've become aware of the "Great Kata Debate". Simply, are kata useful as a training tool to learn to fight or are they only useful for demonstration, sports, training etc?

It occurred to me today that there are no soccer kata. All the soccer players in the world practice soccer in a variety of methods and drills. But, to my knowledge, none of them spend time memorizing and perfecting a stylized set of moves with the ball and body meant as a prelude to playing soccer. When we juggle and kick, we aim for control but never exact repetition.

Basketball too. There are no basketball kata in which you start at the foul line, spin around dribbling with one hand, spin back dribbling with the other, do a fade-away jump shot which comes off the front left of the basket which you catch and then dunk. Followed by a left handed layup etc etc.

My point is this. In these sports, you prepare to play by practicing repetitively but always with a degree of spontenity. You dribble and you shoot (in either sport) with precision but never in the type of repetitive preciseness called for by martial arts kata. Its more like shadow boxing, bag work, or light sparring.

Whats your conclusion?

1 comment:

Nathan said...

Nice analogy John, and welcome to the never-ending debate! I come down cleanly on the side of... both! You may have read some of our posts at TDA Training or the Convocation on this subject, but I like basketball analogy, and liken kata to standing at the free throw line and doing the same thing over and over. Critical drill, but not "alive" in the same way that others are. You need to drill in a lot of ways, but the foundation are the skills that a kata-type drill gives you first - proper technique. My only issue, nowadays, is that the technique we teach in kata are antique. As new masters came on the scene, they introduced new kata. Why isn't that happening today, other than sport karate forms (which I don't consider martial arts anymore). Again, it will never end.

BTW, I've just subscribed to your feed, and look forward to more posts. I hope to look as young as you at 50. Congrats on Shodan!