Who is mahito jjk?
Many contemporary martial artists shun the practice of kata. Why? They will tell you it is a waste of time and you cannot use the techniques in a real fight. That is true if you believe kata is 1) a fight sequence, 2) involves nothing more than punching, blocking, and kicking.
First of all, kata is not a fight sequence. No one would ever be attacked in accordance with the embusen or line of the kata. There are more techniques in the kata than meets the eye. Master Funakoshi Gichen in his book "Karate-do Kyohan, The Master Text" stated that he had simplified the kata. In 'Japanese speak' that essentially means that he took out parts.
The kata is a catalog of techniques and an encyclopedia of pressure points and striking angles. There is a code in the kata and if you can crack the code the kata makes consummate sense.
There has been so much garbage taught in the martial arts over the years it is hard to separate fact from fiction. I began my martial arts study in September 1967. I learned the Shotokan kata from a very honest and honorable instructor whose skill was incredible. Unfortunately some of the things he was taught were not really true. For example he taught us that Heian Shodan was over 1500 years old. Not true but that is what he had been taught. The Heian kata were developed around 1903-1905 at the request of the Japanese Ministry of Education for a program to get the youth physically prepared for future military service. A major requirement for this program was to develop a system to get students physically fit yet not teach them the maiming and killing techniques present in the original Okinawan martial systems. It would not be a good idea to have students armed with these techniques during a schoolyard scuffle. In 1922 Master Funakoshi presented this "school children's art" in Japan. I have read that he wanted to call it his "Japanese Karate" and was uncomfortable having it named after him. Shoto was Master Funakoshi's pen name. Kan may be translated as house. Shotokan: the house of Shoto. His students won out and the style was named after Master Funakoshi.
The Heian kata still contain some serious techniques. We were taught, as were many, "Just keep practicing. Don't ask questions". Why were we not allowed to ask questions? Was it because our instructors did not have the answers? I think so.
Even though I was faithful in my kata practice I knew something was missing. I saw there was a big difference in the way we did kata and the way we did free style sparring. Why the difference? One reason is that if we got to close to our opponent we would get hit or kicked. After twenty-five years of practice I decided to explore what was actually in the kata. The given explanation (bunkai) of the techniques did not make a lot of sense. For example in Heian Shodan movements 8, 9, and 10 were presented as upward blocks. Now if someone is punching at my head and stepping back why would I ever step forward just to block? Just does not make sense. Besides, why would I pull my opposite hand to my hip and leave my face wide open to attack? I would not. There had to be another explanation. There is. After beginning to earnestly study jujutsu some of the kata moves seemed familiar but I could not quite get it. But in the past 15 years or so of study and research I have found that about 75 percent of the kata techniques are jujutsu techniques.
To best understand the kata you must also have an idea of Chinese Medicine Theory and the concept of ki flow along the lines of the meridians. The kata outlines these points along the meridians and the angle at which they must be struck. You must also consider the following:
- Techniques must be up-close and personal. Some techniques are downright intimate.
- Look at transitional movements for techniques.
- Think three dimensionally.
- Stances indicate the position you are in relation to your opponent. No sane person would stand in front of someone in a horse stance or even fight from a horse stance.
- There are no blocks in the kata. Kata techniques are offensive, not defensive.
- Hand positions mean something. No you are not prepping for the next movement. If you are such a billybadass you can stand sideways to your opponent with your hands stacked, then you are truly an awesome martial mahito jjk. Personally I am a mortal and cannot afford to take that kind of foolish chance.
Let us take these one a time and give them a "Shoden" approach to the kata.
The techniques must be up-close and personal. In order to hit someone they must be at a certain distance. It is easier to hit them if they are within "punching range" or about 4-6 inches beyond your fingertips. Farther way and you must close the distance before you can hit them. What appears to be an oi-zuki may not necessarily be an oi-zuki (lunge punch). Some techniques require body-to-body contact such as throws and take downs.
Look at transitional movements for techniques. In the kata no movement should be overlooked. Perhaps the originator of the kata did not mean for the transitional movements to contain techniques but that does not mean I cannot. One motion with lots of applications available to that motion. Take Heian Shodan again (most karate ka know Heian Shodan or a similar basic kata). Lets look at the transitional movement from technique three to technique four. Technique three is a right lunge punch with long turn through180 degrees to the right with a downward block (really?). Consider doing that movement with a single-hand hold. The energy created by that movement would surely dislocate the eight little bones of the wrist and might even spiral fracture the forearm. Hmm, not a block!