Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Kata - Function Dictates Form

Function dictates form is the perfect phrase for describing kata. The techniques, posture, stance and sequence all arose out of an original function and purpose. The kata is the product and not the starting point as so many bunkai enthusiasts teach today. Many Karateka use kata as pseudo savings accounts, collecting as many techniques for each movement from as many different sources as possible. Not only is this unnecessary as a practise it also severely limits the value of the solo exercise, the kata no longer represents a unifying function and the performance becomes a separate abstract movement where anyone can do anything and be as 'creative' as they choose.

The solo form should reflect experience in the intended function, this is what gives the kata its value as a practise. The more experience and time spent training in its true function the higher the quality of the solo movements. The intention of the practitioner should be to re-create the internalised interactive experience of the techniques in their forms, this is not possible when collecting random applications which bear no relationship from one to the other and trying to force form into function.

Form arises from the refinement of techniques and skills which represent the function, every nuance of a kata is significant. The lack of consideration to the details of a kata that often occurs with many of the random applications and the deviation from very specific movements calls into question the credibility of the bunkai.

Other than attempting to unlock the original functions of kata why bother with anything else? is it productive to use a kata like Naihanchi for example as a template for 100's of applications that have only a passing semblance to the form which is very specific and expect practitioners to ignore the fact that often the applied practise and solo exercise are really two different things sharing the same label?

Please contact us with any comments, questions or most importantly for training please email Tom Maxwell at, thanks for reading!!!

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