How does Kata Actually Work in Karate


Full disclosure, what we are about to show you are based on years of research but we don’t claim to have formally studied under any Okinawan Master although we did have chance to informally train ; and someone thought us, not in the formal curriculum (Okinawan Karate) the very first one was (Hanshi) Brother Mario Dacanay he was Shorin Ryu who trained in Okinawa Also years of us trying to figure out the original intent of the Kata because we wondered why the application thought to us won’t actually work (in a real fight) It’s a good thing now we can see some videos in the internet although there are still a lot of pseudo authentic (and questionable) applications out there but as we research over the years. there are a couple of of what we could say… authentic resources authentic resources that we cross confirmed people such as Pat Mcarthy, Karate Nerd… also Ryan Parker, Taiko Oyata… that guy in GKGoju (Paul Enfield) and Taira (Masaji) Bunkai also I did train for a couple of months with Yamashita Shorin Ryu in the US (*notable persons we forgot to mention: Ryan Parker, Master Morio Higaonna, Hanshi Yosho Kuba, Peter Polander) So now good evening, now we’ll talk about Kata and how to apply it in Jutsu (technique or trick for fighting) SInce in 1900’s when Karate was introduced to Japan, it was made into PE (Physical Education) so modern Karate was heavily designed to teach Physical Education spiritual development, Budo …when you say Budo, it’s more a way of life A Martial Way of life Bu (Martial) Do (Dao or Tao, path, way of life) but originally it was Jutsu meaning “Military Trick (or technique)” so there is a difference in character when doing Kata for one thing authentic Bunkai was never really thought to the Japanese and later on it (fake Bunkai) spread out the Bunkai they do, if you look at it is not realistic There is nothing wrong with it because originally when it was opened to the world, it was converted for Physical Education. They took out the deadly aspect. It’s as if, Kalis Ilustrisimo (a form of Filipino blade art)… would you teach that to grade school? you won’t teach dangerous stuff in grade school. because originally they would teach teach Karate in grade school in Okinawa where it started Grades 1 to five thus Heian 1 to 5 was created Originally why Heian 1 to 5 was invented was because it was for grade 1,2,3,4,5 Now what we are going to teach is to train Kata for Jutsu (not for Do or sport) Well actually, you can apply it also for Do training. You can do it simultaneously. Kata was not made for kick boxing fight Kata is for self defense. There are a lot of differences in self defense. For one thing there are a lot of applications in Kata not necessarily just block and tsuki. The begining of most Katas is usuallydefense for a grab Normally for a grab or a sudden punch. That’s why most opening sequences are against a grab So the application (or more acurately, “scenario”) changes. In Japan they think the application is based against sparring distance so that’s why they think when blocking you block like this But actually it should be this close In reality, if you punch at this distance he’ll pull his arm right away when you block… It’s hard to counter from that distance. You can if you’re fast, but that’s athleticism already. In reality the training is if he strikes (at close distance) Originally the “block” can be a strike… and you use the other hand to grab when doing Kata all attacks are in front Attacker either standing up straight or at close distance Aren’t street fights like that? Those that that are sudden. Kata is not meant (to train) for multiple opponents Because in the reality of warfare, it’s hard to fight multiple opponents even if you are that well trained Also training Kata for multiple opponents doesn’t really translate. Why? Because in a real multiple opponent encounter, you don’t want to remain at the middle. So in the typical applications where you block strikes in front and strikes at the back simultaneously, how can you do that? Specially the when you are supposed to block here and here That’s impossible! It’s impossible or if you did do it, then your f_cking that good It’s impractical Although hard and not really meant for multiple opponents, we personally had the experience of fighting multiple opponents in the street and we used to demo and train/spar multiple opponents In fact when we were in brown belt, we were the ones tasked to demo multiple opponents. we only knew the first attack then everything else was free form sparring This is what we discovered. Even for training multiple opponents, the drill you do is still for one on one If you’re good in one on one, you can use it for multiple opponents Kata is not really for multiple opponent The point here is, if you follow the Bunkai taught by sport Karate… what he said was right the mathematics (logic) is wrong because your being nailed to the embusen line when opponents surround you In order to fight multiple opponents for real, anyone who teaches will tell you… you have to look at them as if they are one then you try to funnel them in front. not have opponents at your back because the moment you have opponents at your back (and front)… surrounding you f_ck they will just wait and pick their shots you’re dead if I were the opponent at the back before I enter or hit you, i’ll first wait for one of my mates to bait you, before I strike then when I after I hit you and you turn around to face me, someone else will hit you from the back So Kata is not specifically for multiple opponent training and all Kata beginnings all those movements like this and this, or those so called “salutations” have meanings/applications One example when someone grabs you here… specially in a lot of fight, where it starts with either a push or sometimes someone grabs you here right? as a sample if someone holds you here and tries to challenge you this movement is actually for this there are a lot of possible movements but there are actual applications Next is the use of Kiai Kiai was introduced by the Japanese (and later on adapted by Okinawans also), which came from Kendo Which is understandable because in Kenjutsu (where Kendo came from), in the battle field… when you’re holding a sword or long weapon and you’re facing the enemy and a bit scared, you need to project your energy, so Kiai has a use but later on you will see why it has little use when training kata Even I use Kiai in sparring but it has little place in Kata or originally it has no place in kata Look at the old Okinawan Masters when they do Kata. They don’t or rarely do kiai. Compare them to modern Karate… And in fact you would also wonder, why do it like (moving) 1, 2… 3,4 purposely, not in a hurry to shout Hayaaaaa!!! shaking like this. So the difference of Kata for sport and using kata as a training tool for real self defense… If you observe Kata for Sport you will notice they will walk like this all the same they will bow to the judges then they will do this. Even at the very start they already are projecting. then they will say for example shout “TEKKI SHODAN!!!! ” then they will start “performing” the form Observe the form is beautiful its beautiful for developing mastery because because everyone is the same and honestly, actually you are projecting it to the audience and to the judges so there is a standard size that one fits all but most important things that you will notice is the shout is too loud, like that Too much as if, they say, having sh_t on your ass. Too ritualized, too externalized. It’s a performance like a dance Now observe clearly the Kata as they do it in Okinawa when they do the Kata you would notice they don’t care if anyone is watching. they do it like this what they do is they feel what they are doing. they observe their movement Their mind is in their internal. The movement rooted to the ground. Form serves function The form really needs to have a function there is bone alignment what is important in Kata is the internal not so much the external form but the internal alignment/structure of bones and muscle, and the weight distribution. Sad to say those who do kata only for sports when you now teach them the actual application, they have a hard time because because they don’t know how to sink and use their weight. So when doing kata you should imagine sitting on a chair on caster wheels when you shift, imagine as if your just twisting your body weight around riding your chair on wheels Your body (spine) is straight, when you you twist around only the “wheel” below moves. because you want your body weight to rest only on a single point. Another thing is, Original Okinawan katas had higher stances. Even if you look at pictures of Funakoshi he had higher stances but what his student Nakayama thought, “oh we’ll study Kinesiology” without really understanding the application and function of the movements. They all thought that the applications were mostly against tsuki. So most applications were blocking a strike and countering with another strike (at sparring range) So they wanted what appeared to be powerful blocks and strikes. Which is what they mastered by the way nothing wrong with that. They mastered techniques already based purely on that, and techniques they go from kenjutsu But it wasn’t the original function of the movements. That’s why when Japanese Karatekas get into a fight, they use their sparring techniques in the fight but you will see almost no technique from kata Another technical difference if you notice, apart from the high stance that we mentioned (before in our previous episode), because high stances makes it easier to move, Blocks if you notice in most modern Karate is like this, example Shuto uke they did that because the form looks good and point sparring before hits only in the body but blocks before can be higher because first of all you need to cover your head but punches don’t always strike here right? which would be nice right? sometimes it comes from this angle, like a hook so your block is short also like Shuto uke, which we said wasn’t always just a block sometimes it’s is a strike. so the original Shuto was like this it was high Why was it high? this was because when he strikes you can catch it right away then this is the chop so it goes like this at the same time if you block like this aside for making it easier to hook his arm here you can strike him straight from here if you block from here you would need to go up from here all you need to do is bring it down Now you notice aside from having a higher block, what is this? it’s not a back stance too bad they can’t see my feet It’s a cat stance there is a difference if you look at the original and compare it with the modern Shuto Uke why is it like that? why not like this, like a back stance but like a cat stance? I showed you the block right? like this the reason he is in cat stance it’s because if you already grabbed his arm here and his weight is on the front leg wether it’s a jab or a straight punch the only leg that can kick is the back leg he can’t kick with the front lag because if he does, you can just pull him down (plus he won’t be able to lift his leg) Look I’ll try to kick with my front leg so the reason you are in cat stance is you are ready if his rear leg kicks you can cut it with a kick If it’s a reverse punch for example here you can still cut the kick with your cutting kick. also, the reason why most shuto uke are done in pairs, one, two One, I showed you before right? Now look at this I shift my weight with a hip twist to control his shoulder Look at this If I do this and move forward while pulling the shoulder, it exposes his neck (NOTE: better actually if I turn 45 degrees instead like some instances in kata) That is also the reason why it’s inside I’m just explaining it actually works. look I can still move my arm but it’s weak. The reason you have form in kata is not because it looks good and powerful No. It’s because you are doing something to the opponent’s body your manipulating something in his body that is why you moved like this so you move like this not just to “block” his hand and strike but to hold his entire arm and shoulder, to expose his neck. you pull it with this arm so you can give this so it’s simultaneous Same principle if you look at the rising block or any other block Same principle; Hikite look what happened to his head if you pull the hand down all the more if you do this Look even in the other side. it’s better. Look what happened to the head so it’s either I punch him here or I strike him here Or if I hit him here, what happens to his neck (or head)? So you think the rising block is just a block but bone, look at my bone oops, let me add something to Shuto Uke what heppens if he blocks this? you do this instead so the reason why I can do that even if he’s bigger than me, (Henry) block this. if I jar this If I jar it like this, even if he blocks me I can do this. It’s connected to … can you explain your atemi theory in aikido? This is not my original interpretation There was this old Japanese Daito Ryu Aikijutsu master But his was really old school not like today where you find those Daito Ryu exhibitions where when they perform they “AYYYYYY” (acts out ritualized performance) He showed how atemi was actually used Atemi is connected to control of his body because if you hit a weak part of his body he will momentarily weaken and/or tense up so that’s the only time you can lock and control him For example maybe you can do… for example, no (to hubert) pull it back Like this right? But if you strike it stronger see it stops If you strike it hard, it stops, you pull it here, there that’s it. you broke his arm strength at the same time since you control this arm he finds it hard to punch you don’t see it but I’m stepping on his foot Hubert: My structure is gone The structure is gone because you destroyed it his tendency now is to go straight up So now you pull this [Note: It seems that I by this point I got sidetracked on the topic of atemi.] [ What I wanted to say is that to lock and control an incoming strike, you need to strike the attacking arm and momentarily in a split second freeze his arm] [what the old Daito ryu Aikido Master showed was weak point striking (atemi) and how it leads to a lock] So there are a lot of variations you can do unending as long as what you do is right. Kata is the one that teaches you that [NOTE: of course with Bunkai, Kakie, Hojo Undo and three step and gym sparring] Also in Kata if you notice Later he’ll explain the three levels of Kata When you start Kata your movements are large For example Shuto Uke it’s large right? But the actual application in bunkai is like this already so you make the movements smaller like they say in the start, you need the gross movement because you connect it in your body but in the end… (I’ll make it weak so it doesn’t hurt). When you start you need gross muscle movement but in the long run you want the minimal movement as possible almost imperceptible [Note: The circular turns are now internal in the joints, muscle and facia] so for example when you do reverse punch large movements right? but in a fight, all you need is you want to hide your punch It’s because when you are starting out to train, you first have to show (learn) that your hand will do this, you need to strike here then you need or can do this or that That’s just training But in the end you should end up like Hatsumi (Side note) Hatsumi of “Ninja” fame Hatsumi, even if you say he just invented his Ninjutsu he obviously studied Koryu, the old martial arts (before Meiji restoration changed Jutsu into budo) and then later on he probably just claimed it was Ninjutsu But the way he applies techniques is right (although it seems misunderstood and now ritualized) Look at how I apply what we showed a while ago This one right? Large movements But after a while, you just hide it like this For example if he wants to hold you here it’s just like that Like arnis already But you have to learn the bigger movements that’s why you do it exaggerated in kata, with dynamic tension is because you are teaching the firing of the muscle Because those old Karate masters, even if by chance they forgot the original application of the kata @#$ they are so strong! Because not everyone hands the secret “key” to the drill, modern Karate practicioners would think that the actual application is wide and obvious but like he said, it’s hidden and not obvious How can you eventually get the power of the external movement if you are not rooted to the ground? That is the use of Kata Kata is actually a drill like body building of the firing of the muscles rooted from the ground going up and what you do to your limbic system if you notice Kata what is the difference of this to this? [NOTE: You cannot see it here because the difference is internal. The large gross movements in Kata is used to your internal movement and power. That is why as you train, techniques get smaller and smaller and less effort is required. Another technical difference of Okinawan Karate with Japanese Karate is the use of the center line Japanese when blocking blocks head on the center line so their logic is, if the force heads straight to me, I just block the force There is nothing wrong with it. Their hand goes this way to block the force (usually perpendicular to the force) But remember originally this was not “just a block”. actually this can be a block this is the strike So Okinawans although they first start training like this, eventually makes their block tighter [NOTE: From here I show how to use a “block” to strike a kyusho target, but actually can also be used to “pull” or adhere (Adhere is actually the more accurate translation of Uke)] at least if I don’t hit him, he is dislodged. next is how they use body positioning in regards to the center line Japanese Modern Karate uses the in and out footwork with Maai distancing moving back and forth the center line The Okinawans, instead of going straight the embusen line, goes at it in an angle They cut it like a boxer Like the upper block which they say (is normally thrown at sparring distance in Japanese Bunkai) is actually impossible to counter with after the block because in reality if I block his arm at this distance, my opponent by reflex will just withdraw it. In reality (Kata applications) are done a foot closer. just like street fight that happen suddenly NOTE: This is my personal Oyo Bunkai , using the distance and shifting of angle used by Okinawans Look at this if this was a block if I angle 45 degrees from the line of attack is actually (also) a strike So instead of just a block, angle 45 degrees, this can also be a strike This goes straight the neck and this is a cover also the reason why the hand is positioned/angled this way so he won’t see it When doing Kata, even if there is an Embusen line when you do Bunkai, you adjust to the attacker You do not (always) stick to the Embusen line when doing Bunkai and Oyo Bunkai When you are already disassembling the Kata (Bunkai) The reason you don’t necessarily have to stick to the Embusen line because you will nail your feet on the ground when you are already analyzing the technique remember in sport Karate usually attacks and applications are fixed in the Embusen Line but in reality when doing bunkai you sometimes need to adjust depending on the reaction of your Uke You have to forget the Embusen Line and adjust to the position, body structure and reaction of your Uke. Your feet should be free to find the positional advantage. When at first one does the Kata as a Drill to consciously root your feet on the ground by the time of disassembly (Bunkai) you should not think of it anymore. By now your attention should be on learning how to manipulate the body of the Uke. Secondly you do not always have to hurry in your movements. More important is to feel the technique (and to “lock” the body of the Uke.) Let speed take care of itself. When doing Kata it is important that you know why you are doing a certain form. (Note: It helps if you understand the styles combat principles and the classic “Gates and Measurements) I feel that there is a gray area because the original meaning of the movements of Kata has all nearly been lost. In fact, Itosu Anko was once asked what the use of a certain hop movement in a kata (Chinte?) was for and he said “I really do not know, maybe its to make it look good.) But then again for them its OK because part of the process of Kata/Bunkai is discovering the many correct uses of one movement. What happens is that from learning the correct internal principles and body dynamics of the self during kata, one then shifts attention to the body mechanics of the Uke in Bunkai. If in competition you force the body into the form, in Bunkai the important thing is the application. You are training the Limbic System, so for example, the Uke will really show you that he is punching. You are training your Mind (Note: Body Mind or Limbic Reptilian, not cerebral thinking) You are learning how to “observe” (Mushin/Mind Like the Moon) to “see” everything clearly. So the Kata movement trains your flinch response into a series of possibilities of CORRECT responses. So there are many ways of receiving the attack, many permutations. So you do it again and again.. However this is not sparring, I am looking at the direction of the force and seeing how best to meet it. In this instance I am problem solving a force from him by blocking the centerline and hitting him at the same time. That is all you are doing again and again until refinement. Because you are braking down and learning your “alphabet”. You are learning your alphabets because in a real fight it will be a conversation of “words” which are movements. To add to what he is saying, many do Bunkai with their mind strictly on the Kata Form. “Yes, even if the blow is so far away…” What if the Uke’s blow is circular? Then you cannot apply Shuto Uke? What if his blow is really low? You cannot apply Shuto Uke? Your mind should be that if he strikes your technique is there already. (Strike/Block) Your mind should be on the attacker, not on your form. So to recap when you are doing the Bunkai you train to muscle memory as the first stage. According to the student of Taika Oyata (A Master of Teaching Bunkai, what he teaches is how to breakdown and analyze Kata for combat) He said that one should learn the Kyusho Points and Tuite (Note: unfortunately we were never taught these so we are left to do our own research.) This is because many movements in Kata are not done against strikes Many are trainings against grabs and pushes that are common in the beginning stages of a fight. So for example if he tries to grab me I can do this… Or like this… Or how to catch a grab… So there is really a need for two man drills besides just Kata. Kata alone will not work plus you have to train Tuite, Kyusho (Note: and do Hojo Undo). Without the two man drill you cannot disassemble the Kata. Side note: Tai Chi before had a square form before moving into the fluid form. This is similar to the forms in Kata to train your muscles to lock into the correct efficient structure. Why do you stop it? Because what Karate wants is to emphasize a technique with the proper form at a certain time before moving to another correct movement. In this case the emphasis is to hurt the attacker at a specific point before I move him. Breaking down to refine the technique. And the bias is in small movements that maybe strung along… So while in competition you do the Kata to be judged for form, in Bunkai you are training to use techniques. So when you do Kata (for example Naihanchi), according to Sensei’s Oyata’s Student, there are three ways/levels of doing it. First you memorize the pattern, train the internal movements, weight placement and rootedness, body alignment, breathing, etc… You train to “secure the gates” or be in the pocket/defensive responsibility. You train the form and condition the body. You will see that the movements are broken down one by one to program the body memory. You will see that the movement comes from the ground in coordination with the Hara. That is the initial way. Now if you will break it down per movement in relation to Bunkai, one attack is met by one counter movement. Then I can choose to add another “one movement” to string in the sequence. The second level you will notice that each kata has smaller “sets” of movements. Its like in boxing combinations. If in boxing a combination is like two jabs and a hook, the subsets in Kata are also like that. For example, here is a type of combination broken down (Disassembled). Like I said at first its just one technique at a time…. One…Two..Three… Now the next level of doing the Kata is to make the separate movements into one fluid motion..Like so. To refer to the Bunkai it will now be like this…. You do the combination in a continuous string… Here is another example… Level one, then two… I can choose to do a strike between the block but you can see the fluid application of the same movement with correct variations. The third level, according to Oyata, is when you can string the combinations along, is “bringing out the knives”. You use the “knives’ to hit, cut or stab specific areas for maximum pain and or damage. That is why, to my surprise, I saw a version of Naihanchi Kata done with open hand. In the closed version the target is the eye socket using the knuckles of the backfist, when open hand is used, the weapon or bone used and target changes. So even while you are training specific targets with specific “weapons/knives”, when you do the Oyo Bunkai the targets may change in relation to the Uke and what best presents itself. If you take a look at the entirety of Kata Practice, it should lead to a never ending permutations of movement possibilities. This is because it is only at its initial stage that the disassembly of movements are molded as a vessel, but on the third level or Oyo Bunkai… …your interpretation or expression of the essence of the vessel should spill out. Look, my temparament, my speed, and my height (among many other variables) are different from Hubert… So even if we do the same kata there will be some movements easier for me, so he will adopt a different interpretation of the same gross movement. Also if the opponent is tall, he will have movements that are easier for him compared to the smaller guy. That is why Kata itself will vary from Master to master, style to style. In time it will really change (but the mechanics and principles are always there…) The basic foundations will still be there, like all the kihon of like say Age Uke, but you will open up to how many ways of using the same movement? Why are the dimensions the same? Next time we will talk about the “gates” that these specific structures address. One question to ask is why does the movement pass the center? Why are the middle movements important? These important things never change, but the flourishes and intent on the enemy’s body changes. For example, I can choose to break. Then I can choose to hit him here… There are many possibilities and permutations using the same exact movements. However, the initial response and body position is the same. Like this… Like this… And like this are all the same… So you drill the Kata, do the Bunkai, find your Oyo Bunkai, you train and you train… When you fight forget about everything! Forget everything.. Don’t think about it. What you need is to observe and keep your eye on your opponent. Because you have done your “weights training”, like in basketball drills… For example a drill of doing jump shots is like this, but with someone like Jourdan who has done thousands of drills… in a game if someone blocks him he will adjust in the air and still execute the shot. In a fight it will be like that… For example if he attacks, I don’t have to do the exact formal movement because I now trust my body to manipulate the attackers body… The correct internal training of Kata will make you do the correct response even if externally it looks different. (Some even like this “hidden” method. Its more confusing to the opponent.) That is why arts like Aikido and Tai Chi are beautiful but the problem is that they are nailed to the first stage of external gross movements and they did not bring it to the next steps to be able to use it in combat. They stopped it there… But Aikido’s potential for combat is beautiful, in my opinion… Now we have discussed the use of Kata for Jutsu, next time we will do a more in depth video on how to develop your Oyo Bunkai, condition by doing Hojo Undo, There are a lot of techniques in Karate that will not work unless your hands and weapons are conditioned. For example, look at our fingers and hands.. they are small because we never trained too much on Hojo Undo. That is why we adjust our techniques but we will have more in the toolbox if we condition our hands. Maybe we adjust using open hand techniques in vulnerable areas for now… Because we lack conditioning, there will be some techniques that we will be hesitant to use because it will injure us instead. That is the simple reason of it.. We hope that with this video you will enjoy doing your Kata and that will open new uses other than the legitimate use in Sport. We do not mean to say that there is no value in Sport Kata for Combat readiness, but the value for combat in Sport Karate can be derived from Competition Kumite which is timing and the ballistic movement, a whole different necessary skillset. This is really good when you are young, but what we appreciate about the Okinawan Traditional (Which is the REAL Traditional Karate) is that it can be used and used with growing skill as you grow older…(Note: It is the real Martial Art in Karate.)

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