question about bruce lee and kata?

Bruce lee says that learning kata is not the answer because it’s like learning how to swim without water, and learning how to fight without fighting. he doesn’t think they are a good idea. do you think he’s right?

Bookmark the permalink.

All comments are reviewed before publication and all links removed.

20 Responses to question about bruce lee and kata?

  1. obama sucks retard balls says:

    i think they are both better than obama

  2. John H says:

    I pondered your question for a moment and then thought of an even better question. Why do you care because even if you are a ninja, a nine year old with a shotgun can still kick your ass.

  3. ravens_fan20 says:

    yes and no. It’s kind of hard to disagree with Bruce Lee, but in my style we learn Forms and sets (similar to kata) these help reinforce what we have learned, (blocks, strikes, foot work, stances etc…)

  4. -aDeN- says:

    i entirely agree.
    what use is a kata if when faced by a real opponent you’re clueless, other than those katas you learnt over time…gradings and such should only be awarded by observing improvement in training situations such as 1 on 1 sparring…just my thoughts

  5. Cian C says:

    yeah, he is totally right, i think the reason for the katas is to show technique and intimidation rather than fighting prowess

    the katas do extremely little when it comes to fighting, they show good moves but the situations that you could use those moves are unorthodox

  6. djnightgaunt says:

    I think this quote is a great example of the ways in which true geniuses don’t understand how elevated they are in comparison to the rest of us (Wagner and Einstein also illustrate this point). Lee was gifted, so for him, kata were cages trapping his brilliance. For the average fighter, kata are the scaffolds on which we build everything else we know. A scaffold can look like a cage from a distance.

  7. sniperluvnslo says:

    Bruce Lee was a great martial artist, and we can all learn from him in one way or another. However, it isn’t likely that he practiced kata.Either he didn’t quite grasp it, or simply had no use for it.
    “I think simply to practice gung fu forms and karate katas is not a good way. Moreover, it wastes time and does not match the actual (fighting) situation. Some people are tall, some are short, aome are stout, some are slim. There ar various kinds of people. If all of them learn the same boxxing form, then who does it fit?”

  8. zenith13 says:

    when you are in a real combat, kata does not help you. Watch UFC. How can you win a fight with kata when your arms, legs and head are locked by your opponent – you could use your teeth, finger nails, etc. Bruce Lee wouldn’t get in that position in the first place by running around like a boxer.

  9. katana172 says:

    Once again i see the people who have never been properly shown or experienced what kata taught and trained correctly can do. remember all Kung Fu style and Karate styles have forms. these were developed at a time when defending yourself was a matter of life and death, not bragging rights. Don’t you think there might be something to them? Don’t you think maybe having o figure out the moves for yourself will give you a better understanding of them then if you are just handed them?

    I respect Bruce Lee for what he accomplished and for some of his teachings, but I strongly disagree with his views on kata, simply if for no other reason then to the best of my knowledge, the only style he trained in (Wing chun) that had forms, he only really took under an instructor for 5 or so years. This is barely enough time to sctratch the surface of a form.

    Kata are an outline and the DNA of your style. Everything you need to know about the style you train is in them, but just like a scientist you have to study them to unlock what they contain. Kata build muscle memory, balance, correct breathing, motion while doing technique. What many people fail to realize is that in proper forms training the kata itself is not importent, it is the individual motions within. No one is going to perform a self defense motion from kata exactly the way it is in the kata. there will be variences based on heighth of opponent, weight, what they are wearing, etc.

    Kata, and the techniques within, are not meant to be a hard and fast rule. Many times what looks like a move into a seperate stance with a block or strike is actually a throw or take down in application. Unfortunatly the number of instructors who can teach this way are diminishing thanks to Mcdojo’s and training being watered down.

    Now just doing the kata in the air will also not accomplish much. You need to take the motions out of kata, and practice them with live resisting opponents in order to make them effective.

    What I find funny is no one questions shadow boxing, or drills designed to help with take downs in grappling styles. Yet everyone questions kata. Where is the difference? Yes kata are much longer and seemingly rigid, yet once you know them and start training them for what they contain, not the kata itself, it actually gets very free flowing and spontanius, but that is really hard to understand for someone who has not learned to live them, like Bruce Lee. if you practice the individual motions with partners to get the feel of how they work, then visualize that attck and what you are doing every time you do that motion in kata, what difference is there between that and shadow boxing?

    I know masters who have studied for decades that still train kata, and still learn from it. it is after all the DNA of your style.

    Edit- Appolagies to walt b for the morons crack. I changed it on the off chance that a kid would read it, because the last thing I want is to set a bad example.

  10. Tao J says:

    Yes. No. Let me explain.

    In order to learn to punch, kick, or move correctly a martial artist must practice over and over. That is the point of kata or forms – muscle memory will help in moving, striking, balance, visualizing combat, etc. It is very much like shadow boxing in that regard.

    But once you know how to throw a punch correctly (or whatever move) kata are no longer useful except as a warm up exercise. I agree with Bruce Lee; you must spar / fight in order to learn timing, distance, defense, and footwork under pressure. You still need to remember how to use the moves from the kata, but break them out of the kata “formula” and apply them to realistic situations.

    I think that kata are more useful to the instructor than anyone – the instructor can see what his students are doing wrong and right, and correct the mistakes. Then the student can apply the knowledge to his/her technique and move better.

    For someone as skilled as Bruce Lee was, kata became outmoded and useless, but for a beginning student, forms can be very helpful.

  11. jwbulldogs says:

    I think Bruce was wrong and right. It is not good if that is all you do. But I do believe that it teaches a lot. It helps produce muscle memory. You learn the techniques too. Then if you add live attacker with your katas it makes you more prepared to defend under pressure. You should use a variety of attacks from different angels with a different number of attacker for each kata. Katas are also great exercise.

    Unfortunately, many learn the katas only for competition. That is when it is not good. They do it for the show and never learn the real life applications fo the katas.

    It is a great learning tool, but it is not perfect. You still need to spar, etc.

  12. SiFu frank says:

    Bruce was at the stage of development where he was free forming his own kata. I guess you could call it shadow boxing or shadow fighting. I asked this question of a couple of people who knew him well and this is roughly the response they gave me.
    I know of no one in my circle of acquaintances or friends in the martial arts that support dropping kata as a method of training or teaching. Boxers will practice combinations over and over for the same reason. When you are in the heat of a fight there is often no time for strategies sometimes the moves must be reflexive. Repetition is the only way to get there, weather or not you want to call it kata or not.
    Just rhetorical:
    Does a good golfer practice their swing?
    Does a good basket ball player practice set ups and lay ups?
    Does a marksman practice dry shooting to prevent flinching?
    IT seems self evident to me that Bruce was clearly talking out of school. I strongly disagree with his statement.
    I have to say that kata by itself is quite useless. it is only one of the parts of good training not the whole thing. You need to interact with live opponents. You need to spar, and from time to time you need contact; full contact is preferable with protective equipment if you plan to be doing this the rest of your life.;)

  13. chris k says:

    I agree with Bruce Lee as far as being useless for fighting. But kata is a useful development exercise. Believe it or not not everyone studies karate to be able to fight. Somepeople study it for exercise, confidence, coordnation, etc. For someone like Bruce Lee I can see how he would consider it a waste of time, because he wanted the best style for streetfighting. For the average student it is a great tool. I personally dislike them, but it is a rewarding challenge when you can finally get it down. I still remember my katas from years and years ago. Thanks to muscle memory from practicing them so much.

  14. Stuart F says:

    Ofcourse he is right.
    People here are saying how it is good for developing muscle memory. But the memory the muscle remembers can get you into trouble, as your kata has you throw a side kick to the left and your muscle memory takes over as some big guy hits you with a plank from behind.
    And if in 5 years of study you have not gained enough knowledge to grasp how to use a kata, there has to be a better way to train.

  15. bunminjutsu says:

    SHU the learning of form
    HA the mastery of form
    RI rising above mere form or becoming formless

    The masters realized that rigid form was useless and didn’t leave enough room for a lot of options .The also taught after form was mastered HIDEN pronounce hedehn or the inner not so obvious movements within the movements.I used to look at kata as a rigid unchangeable set in stone concept.The last 15 years of research and reading documents about and by those masters and the research of other highly knowledgable practioners has shown me that kata is indeed formless but not unless you look .

    It is not necessary any longer to be the “inside”student of a 8th or 9th or 10th dan master to learn these things .If you know where to look the internet is full of them by accredited recognized authoritys on okinawan/japanese martial arts.

    The original bruce lee quote contains the words”just doing kata”and learning to fight is like learning to swim without water .In that context he was absolutely right.
    The masters knew you couldn’t learn to fight by “just doing kata” and never said otherwise and didn’t practice “just kata”.

    Bruce Lee was talking about something that was way out of his limited depth .
    As for the ding dong who said BL would never be in a posistion of being taken down tell it to JUDO GENE LABELL who put him on his scrawny ass 3 times in a row.

  16. Walt B says:

    Forms/katas are the Rosetta Stones of a style, the DNA someone said. Everything you need to know is there somewhere, if you know how to look for it.
    Katana has the best answer so far, and if not for the morons crack, the best answer on the subject ever. He is right about calling the calling them morons, it just sets a bad example for kids!!

  17. Jim says:

    I have read a lot of Bruce’s books and I believe that he had a personal distaste for traditional martial arts because of their closemindedness. I can understand that and I completely agree with him that we shouldn’t subscribe to any martial art that preaches dogma, that claims to have the one and only truth with reguard to fighting theory. However, I believe that his personal distaste for traditional martial arts led him to oversimplify the problem. As I said, traditional dogma is certainly bad because it holds you back from being a complete and well rounded martial artist, but I don’t think that we would be justified in condeming the whole of traditional martial arts just because of this one dogmatic aspect. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water,” so to speak. In my opinion, kata training on its own is good for practicing fighting techniques by oneself, for passing techniques on to others, and for building patience and discipline . However, in order for kata to be effective and useful, one must practice the techniques with an opponent on a regular basis. This can be done by participating in competition or by participation in free-sparring practice with light or full contact (not gay point-sparring). By using kata in this way, we can learn and study for ourselves which techniques are useful and effective, and which are just for asthetics. This was the core of Bruce’s teaching – “You must be a light unto yourself.” Don’t take the word of others about what works and what doesn’t. Don’t take on faith what your Traditional teacher claims and don’t take on faith what your MMA or full contact teacher says. Free yourself and think for yourself. Study martial arts (including kata), then apply. You will then see for yourself what is useful and what works. Maybe you will even discover at technique that is useful but that was once thought to be unusful. This is exactly what Bruce did. He didn’t rest on the word of the traditionalists or the full contact guys. He freed himself and learned on his own. This is what made him a great martial artist, and we should honer him by following his example, not idolizing him and taking his claims on faith. Its not what he wanted and its not what he did.

  18. thehaad says:

    yes and no. kata builds perfectg form for some moves but it makes ur muscles not react to other types of attacks and it technicaly is learnin to fight without fighting it must somewhat help but in bruce lees style jeet kune do we dont memorize kata

  19. Timo K says:

    yes and no

    kata can be useless if you dont understand it. but i find if you understand exactly how and why every single movement is done its can help a lot.

  20. Hazel says:

    You know, with all due respect to Mr. Lee,..ahem.
    waaaaaaaaaaaataaaaaaaaaaa! Gotta love ’em! I really don’t recall what he said about Kata’s, however I do know the importance of training your muscles “memories” as do many athletes and Martial Artists.
    For me in a defensive Karate school, Kata’s are an excellent way to train muscle reflexes. The Kata’s improve the defenses and an understanding of the defense move brings out the best of your form in the Kata.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *