Kata Kumite Disconnect

Some karate kumite looks like kickboxing.

Under some circumstances those tactics make sense. But that way of fighting is not all that is taught in kata. 

We do not need to change our kumite because the kata shows something different. 

There is something else going on. 

Kata does not show kickboxing footwork. 

It shows close combat and anti-grappling footwork. 

Kata does not show keeping a distance. 

It shows engaging close-in, with decisive positioning and quick-reversal combinations.

An example: the many long turns to the rear in our kata, 180° or more, fit off-balancing and throwing applications.

There is a time to use a kick boxing approach. 

But you cannot penetrate the meaning of the kata assuming that the conventions of kumite matches are the only legitimate combative methods. 

What is the relationship between kata, kumite matches and combatives? We cannot assume these are separate realms, or that they are the same. We can see that they are different dimensions which inform and draw on one another.  

It is something to explore. 

There are many people in the world right now who are are accustomed to a high level of interpersonal violence. There is great interest, worldwide, in the practical applications of kata-based training.

Many people are involved in this research. 

This also includes the discovery of applications which extend beyond self-defense: for health, fitness and personal cultivation. This is also part of our Shorin Ryu heritage.

Many who are involved in this are not innovators. We are restoring what was deleted. Recovering what was lost or overlooked. The sources we draw on are diverse and deep.

We study the legacy in the light and life of present-day experience.

Right now there is a lot of energy going into sharing ideas, testing techniques, bringing dojo and combative experience to bear on kata. Questioning our assumptions and habits – and one another. There is testing, training, trying things out, offering input and sharing insight when we find a better way. 

It is an exciting process, and a fruitful one.

It works best when we pool our effort in a positive way, collaborate, share, and gain access to the hidden power of our art.

Everyone can be a part of this process. 


Post Copyright © 2023 by Jeffrey Brooks, Mountain Karate, Yamabayashi Ryu, Saluda, NC USA

Photos: snapshots, Japan, 1957-58


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