What is the point of learning katas?

I find them pointless your just learning a bunch of moves in a sequence

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16 Responses to What is the point of learning katas?

  1. Monroe Wood says:


  2. Kokoro says:

    without kata you have no karate. it is the manual to your style, everything you to fight with is in kata.

    kata is a fight, its all your self defense moves,
    Kata at its core teaches the following
    Kokyu (breathe control)
    Kaeshu (reversals)
    Atemi (vital strike to vital area)
    Kyusho (pressure point strikes)
    Kensetsu (bone or joint bending)
    Appaku (applied pressure)
    Kotekitai (absorbing and controlling pain)
    Nage (throwing)
    Chime (choking)

    kata is not that simple,
    it takes years to understand the simplest kata, there are different levels of studying bunkai, it can be anywhere from a basic understanding to a very advance one. and its not always a block or punch, take the kata tekki (naihanchin) this kata is all grappling moves with few strikes.
    each kata has a number of interpretations some depend on your level of understand and others very from teach or style. there is no one answer for what the bunkai is.

    and bunkai is equally important without bunkai kata is meaningless, there are several levels of bunkai
    if you dont understand kata then you dont understand karate

  3. Shiro Kuma says:

    Learning kata is like learning the alphabet. You repeat them over and over, focusing on the shape of each letter, until writing them becomes effortless and natural to you. Only then can you learn how to write words, sentences, and essays – the really “useful stuff.”

    You repeat a kata to allow you body to “memorize” the movements, and later on, you’ll get introduced to “bunkai” – how the components of a kata relate to actual “usage.” But if you rush to the “using techniques” part (sparring etc.) without going through the “learning correct form” part, you’ll end up becoming a sloppy fighter who only muscles his way through techniques.

  4. Flawed_logic says:

    Kata act as many things:

    Footwork drills
    Flow drills
    technique drills
    shadow boxing
    focus training

    and originally they were the manuals to the style and instruction books.

  5. rat says:

    Then you don’t know what a kata is.

    It’s not a dance, talk to you’re instructor, and if he is competent, he should explain why you do them.

    Some marital arts have different reasons.

  6. kel c says:

    then maybe take a martial art that doesn’t do katas…???

  7. Patrick Visar says:

    Application of technique

  8. Rikashiku says:

    Thats the point. You’re learning moves.

  9. Tommy Maguire says:

    kata is the spirit of karate
    without kata, theres no karate
    without karate, theres no martial art

  10. pugpaws2 says:

    So exactly what is Kata?

    Kata is all for the things listed here and much more:

    First Kata is the bridge between learning individual techniques, blocks, kicks, strikes, …etc. Whe first learning a punch, for example, You are taught to stand still and punch. Likewise you learn other things while basically standing still. If this is the only way you practiced you would never learn to go from one technique to another. Kata is on the most basic level, a way to link these techniques together. It teaches you how to combine moving, steeping, turning, shifting, with the strikes, kicks, …etc. It begins to teach proper breathing, when to tense and when to relax. It develops a good sense of timing and overlapping muscle movement. It as is over said many times, also develops muscle memory.

    Second, Kata were created to both serve as a catalog of the styles hidden technique within the basic movements that are doe in the Kata. While at the same time concealing the true purpose and application of its use. This was done by the original creators of the Kata so that student could practice without observers being able to figure out exactly what the movements are intended for. This allows the master instructor to teach the student the real application later. The master instructor knows that for the real application to be effective, the student must first have developed his skills to a high level. Once the student has developed those skills, he has the ability to instantly be able to apply the real purpose of the techniques he has been practicing.
    The fact that Kata takes a long time to develop to a high level is useful. It allows the master instructor the time to weed out the students that should not have the real applications. Those that stick around for the many years that are needed to develop their skills, have also proved their dedication and skill. Then the master instructor can reveal the true use of the techniques hidden in the Kata. Those hidden applications always use the vital points of the human body. This can be pressure points as used in acupuncture, or nerves.

    At this point Kata moves can be interpreted to mean many different effective applications. In other words a technique that looks like a block and is taught to the students as such, can be used in more than one way. It might be a strike, a lock, throw, or a deflection. Each style has its own advanced applications for a technique. And at the same time, the applications may be different from one style to another

    The reality is that very few masters were taught the hidden applications in their Kata. So now more than ever few students are ever taught the hidden applications. This leads to many thinking that sparring and bag work, is a much more realistic way to develop their skills. Sad but true.


  11. Sensei Scandal says:

    Don’t worry about it! Just don’t learn kata! The more people that don’t learn kata the better for us who do practice it, because we know we are practicing a complete art!

    Go find a Partial Art school and learn Partial Arts for the rest of your life! Martial Arts is just too complicated anyway! Why would you want to waste 10 years learning details that will serve in protecting your life, when you could go to your nearest ATA and get a black belt in 1 1/2 to 2 years and learn how to kick and punch without power and effectiveness?

    So just continue doing what you’re doing and don’t ask anymore questions about martial arts, being that you have absolutely NO CLUE as to what they are!

  12. incubbus13 says:

    There are two methodologies to teaching martial arts. Each has their strengths and weaknesses.

    Principle based: You teach principles, the student learns to adapt situational techniques from that.
    Pros: Works better for non-rote learners, makes sure that principles sink deep into neural pathways.
    Cons: It depends on the student to do the repetitions necessary to make the techniques into muscle memory.

    Technique based: You teach techniques (katas/forms/blocks/punches/kicks), the student learns to adapt situational principles from that.
    Pros: Requires less hands-on/personal instruction (bigger classes), makes sure that techniques sink deep into muscle memory.
    Cons: It depends on the student to connect Polishing The Sword with Swallow Takes Flight and 10 Dragons and see that the principle is the same.

    The original point of katas was for you to discover the principles of fighting in them. The technique leads to the principle, rather than the principle leads to the technique. That’s all.

    If they are valid applications, or you simply like the history or the art, perfecting katas can be part of perfecting your martial arts. There’s really only a problem when/if something is being transmitted to the student that is a copy-of-a-copy (with the resulting copy errors in it.) That’s the greatest argument for principle based methodologies. Unfortunately, principle based schools tend to produce people who haven’t done the 10,000 repetitions they need to have it absolutely hard wired. Neither method is at all perfect. But both are trying to produce a superior martial artist by getting to the same point at the “end”.

    Edit: Principle based teaches you to build a house, but never lets you swing a hammer or touch a nail.
    Technique based teaches you to hammer a nail, and screw a screw and saw a board, but never lets you see a house first.

  13. Killer Kickboxer says:

    The biggest problem with katas is that it is rarely taught properly. I trained in shotokan for a number of yeas was rarely taught the applications of kata. I trained in taekwondo for two years also little was explained in way of applications of kata. When no application is taught you may as well be dancing. With instructors rarely teaching applications to kata, it may as well not be taught.

  14. Patrick says:

    You need to learn katas if you want to learn karate – the end.
    In my opinion they are meaningless from a self defence point of view because nobody will attack you with a set sequence of moves that you will know in advance. I would go as far as to say that they will give you a false sence of confidence. This is common sense and if you realise this already as a beginner then I applaud you as it took me 5 years before I realised this. However as I said earlier if you want to learn the “Art” of karate then they are essential.

  15. idai says:

    Hi there

    If you learn the forms as a sequence of moves or events then your right they are pointless!

    So why teach the forms in this manner? Well theres lots of arguments for this such as tradition, for the art, gradings and my personal fave to train a natural response? Kata couldnt me more lifless when practiced without feeling or understanding of why your doing it in the first place. So who’s to blame for all of this. Well its a bit of Japanese history a little bit of poor understanding by instructors.

    Kata are not pointless. They contain all the tools of the art! They are fighting techniques that need to be extracted and trained in a realistic manner. This does not include the bunkai as most of this is also trained in a unrealistic way! To make the kata work it has to be ripped appart and applied in situations where tori and uke vary its application. This is the only real way to understand it. After the 1500’s the Japanese made all their arts more acceptable to the general public and as a result most of the spirit and application was lost to the untrained eye. This is the problem with DO arts and even some Koryu Jutsu ones.

    To really understand your art you really have to understand the kata. This doesnt mean collecting kata and performing them with the utter most perfection. It means understanding the principles that the kata are trying to teach and applying those principles to your own body.

    Kata is lifeless, souless and lacks any purpose when its done as a painting by numbers exercise! Theres a very good reason why they are termed martial arts and not martial replication!

    But this doesnt mean we should dismiss it because we dont fully understand it! Thats when a good instructor comes in who can explain it and train it correctly!

    Best wishes


  16. Teddy Bear says:

    Kata is probably booring to most of the people , but in karate you need katas to get higher belt ranks. And kata is good way to strengthen your legs trough many stances that kata have.

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