Karate Kata or Karate Dance?

I found this question on Yahoo Answers Japan (chiebukuro), and one of the posters gave an example based on what they thought the question meant.
For those who know Japanese, here’s the question: http://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1359775243
I like mrjunkhonten’s answer. It’s worth a read.

Anyway, here’s the video the contributor posted:

The title reads Super Karate Girl… though I beg to differ.

My question here is what purpose, if any, could a “Karate Dance” ever serve? There seemed to be very little for application in the video, but there is still some there howbeit on a minuscule scale.

Does this sort of thing hurt the appeal of Karate? Is there any purpose for it?

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12 Responses to Karate Kata or Karate Dance?

  1. Flawed_logic says:

    There is no music involved in kata as far as I’m concerned. The sort of dance choreography could be good for timing if done properly, but I don’t see any purpose to it. Kata without the music, at least in Hapkido, is to teach proper movement and how to incorporate techniques into a fight. The music is just a distraction from the point of kata.

  2. Jim R says:

    There could be little doubt to the skill of that performer. That said, I agree that had little to do with karate. As I understand there is a thing (mis)named xtreme MA, which is a performance art, not a martial art.That kata(?)
    was something to watch, but painfully short of realistic bunkai or oyo. Not exactly what I would or could call karate.

  3. Aaron J says:

    Zero purpose for martial art.

    There’s nothing that would be practical from her ‘made-up’ kata. That type of form is generally created by the student as a visually impressive routine prior to a tournament. There is almost always nothing reminiscent of the actual martial art in these routines, and they more or less resemble a dance or gymnastics routine.

    I’ve seen videos of this girl before. She has won many awards with this type of routine. I will say that this is not martial arts, but I don’t slam her for doing something she likes, and doing it to the degree of winning an award.

    It by all means, hurts the appeal of Karate, and is why people see martial arts as nothing worth their time and effort.

    My assumption for the purpose of these musical dance routines, are to bring interest from those still ignorant of what martial arts are really about, and to entertain the families of the students, as well as impressing the good qualities the students possess because of their ‘training’.

    It’s why I steer very clear of any tournaments.

  4. jurena says:

    Of course there is a purpose for it . To get Dragonball dreamers off the couch and start to actually get moving . Every body is not interested in hard core bone breaking tma you know .

    And this is actually nice alternative for young people. I know that this statement sounds like a blasphemy in tma circles , but isnt it better than purposeless wandering around shopping mall ?

    It might not have any (or close to zero) MA application but its still a decent gymnastic workout . And youngsters are open heart dreamers , you know .

    Were you ever wondering why Itosu and his contemporaries buried bunkai after all ?

  5. Leo L says:

    I have seen creative kata, with and without weapons, set to music. Most of the ones I saw live still contained mostly real, forceful, movements and strikes. However, I don’t view them as hard core martial arts. Some of the people I know that do them are hard core martial artists, upper level black belts. They view the creation and performance of a custom kata as an exercise in putting together a series of martial arts moves and executing them at a preset pace. It forces them to think and act in a different way. I respect that and them, knowing that this is just an adjunct to years of traditional training.

  6. Alicia says:

    In the dojang that I am apart of we are required to perform a series of kattas in order to progress to the next belt. When someone makes it to the black belt candidate program they are required to create their own katta from the different blocks, kicks and punches that they learned through out their progression. Our master has the candidates put in the moves that they had the most difficulty with, they are also required to put it to music in order to work on control and moving at a constant speed and tempo. Now what the woman in the video did looked more like a dance than what we do in our dojang.

  7. LIONDANCER says:

    My computer does not read Japanese and neither do I but I watched the video. Very impressive her strength, flexibility and agility. A rare combination I am sure she worked very hard at. While strength, flexibility and agility are important and give you an advantage in a fight when you are young I would still bet my money on an old master who has internalized his art (even an external art such as karate). That skill in the martial art which defines a martial art as an art clearly and totally eludes her but it is the one that fascinates me much more than the showmanship of that girls flexibility, agility and strength.

  8. possum says:

    Wow. I wish I could do that. I envy anyone who can throw a side kick with half the agility that she did. It’s a nice video, and clearly, she’s able to move her body to the extreme ranges of human flexibility. So that’s a start. Whether or not she can defend herself is another matter which could be interpolated by watching her spar and perform self-defense techniques.

    But I stop at not calling it martial arts. It may not be traditional, and what she’s doing is clearly the evolution of martial arts these days. And I hesitate to label it as ineffective, since she clearly demonstrated many elements that traditional forms require us to do: balance, rhythm, precision. And in many ways, she even demonstrated better than many others in their execution of traditional forms. Of course, there are other elements of traditional forms that I did not see here, like power or application. But for whatever reason, the XMA artists out there chose not to incorporate these aspects into their forms. I don’t condemn or condone what they do, I only observe that they are focusing on a few of the many aspects of forms.

    Does it hurt the appeal of Karate? Not exactly: it does draw the interest. But when those who succumb to the razzle dazzle and then seek out a (traditional) school and don’t find it, then they think the traditional school is missing something. Therefore, it has the potential to backfire, and ultimately becomes detrimental to traditional arts. Nevertheless, I like watching these people take it to the extremes, whether it is traditional or contemporary. Remember: MMA is another evolution in martial arts that rankles with many traditionalists. This is just another direction from traditionalism, that’s all.

    Purpose? Yes, there’s a purpose – and I like it. It’s just that it’s more granular than traditional forms. This means that these kinds of martial artists have to work harder in those other areas to compensate for what the forms don’t do.

  9. Kokoro says:

    my japanese was never that good, and im very rust now adays.

    i only watched about 10 secs of the video.. that’s all i could take. i dont think she would last 5 secs in a fight. and how tall is the person she was suppose to be fighting 8 feet. kata moves are suppose to be practical and with someone your own height

    kata is suppose to be combat not dancing.
    as for the comment kata has no music, i disagree. Master Gichen Funakoshi wrote a sing for kanku dai. i once heard it song by Sensie Ozawa while we performed the kata. there is a youtube video of it ill have to find.
    there is a big difference between the traditional song sung and the crap they do today with there bs kata.

  10. Ymarsakar says:

    I look at it the same way as Miyamoto Musashi did with the paintbrush and the sword. Both required the same physical skills but the application all depends upon which path the person trods. The path of a pacifist or artist, means that both the sword and the paintbrush are rendered into peaceful means. The path of the sword unifies both destructive and creative art into one skillset, without division.

    Thus the precise stroke of the brush becomes the same as the precise cut of the sword.

    A skillset does not determine the goals of mortal lives. That is decided by the person involved.

  11. jwbulldogs says:

    Well, I can’t read Japanese. I wish I could. I did watch the video. This video shows to me that this by no means is a true representation of karate. This young lady is very flexible. She has good balance. But what purpose would it serve to kick that high. What applications are concealed in this “kata”?

    Many will see this that have no idea what karate really is and believe this is karate. Many of those people will be impressed. Some may join a class because they want to be like her. The problem lies that these people will or might not be equipped to really defend themselves if the ever need. This type of training may give a person a false sense of hope.

    It looks good to an untrained eye, but it missed the pupose of martial arts training (kata).

  12. Tom says:

    Dance has a long history of being part if martial arts. Even as late as after WWII the practice of karate was prohibited so people practiced kata by incorporating it into dance.

    The bottom line is people get resourceful when not allowed to do something

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