Sunday, January 17, 2010

Kata Sparring

Aikido techniques

"To practice kata is not to memorize an order. You must find the kata that work for you, understand them, digest them and stick with them for life." - Gichin Funakoshi

We all know that there is a large grappling component found within the syllabus of shotokan kata, but the solo performance of the kata doesn’t mean that you can use these grappling techniques in a real fight.

So then how should we train these grappling techniques to become good at them, well for starters there are many pioneers around the world looking into this side of karate like Iain Abernethy, John Burke, Didier Lupo, Tom Leeman, Patrick McCarthy, Bill Burger, Lawrence A. Kane, Kris Wilder, John W. Titchen and many other karateka.

If you want some good ideas about incorporating the grappling of kata into your shotokan look up some of these pioneer karateka it’s a great place to start imo.

The essence of karate is found in a single punch or kick. Gichin Funakoshi.

My personal thoughts are karate is first and foremost a striking art and the way it’s practiced today for the striking component which includes kihon, kata and kumite (the three K’s) is indeed a good way, this also includes percussion/impact and body conditioning.

One must be very careful not to be defeated through concern with throwing an opponent or applying a joint punishment hold. Gichin Funakoshi

I think the kihon and kumite side of shotokan is great and can develop formidable technique to be used in self defense but the kata component (solo performance) as we know it today although useful for sharpening basic striking technique, timing and rhythm in its present state of solo training is not that useful in practical self defense situations.

If we can pull out striking techniques like gyaka zuki or maegeri and all the other striking techniques from the kata and drill them to the cows come home solo or in partner drills leading to kumite, we should also be able to extract the grappling techniques found within the shotokan kata and drill them likewise.

“Through sparring practice one may identify the practical meaning of kata.” Chojin Miyagi

The problem is how do we drill the grappling component of shotokan kata, personally I think the grappling techniques such as seoi nage , koshi garuma, kuchiki-taoshi, kote gaeshi etc etc found in shotokan kata and these days relating more to jujitsu, judo and aikido rather than karate should be trained in the same manner as the the three grappling arts mentioned above.

Since judo jujitsu and aikido have been around for a very long time these arts have perfected the grappling techniques within them and they would certainly have attained the most proficient and correct way of practice, application and execution.

Judo - Seoi nage

I don’t think for example (lets use seoi nage) if Funakoshi sensei incorporated a seoi nage into one of the kata, there would be a karate way of doing seoi nage and a judo way of doing seoi nage, a seoi nage is a seoi nage no matter what art it may be found in.

So then a seoi nage in karate kata should be practiced like a seoi nage found in the art of judo, and again a shino nage found in karate kata should be practiced like a shino nage found in jujitsu and so on and so forth.

To be good at applying these individual grappling techniques means that time must be spent on the individual technique themselves learning applying and executing them, just like judoka aikidoka and Jujutsoka do.

Just exactly how the grappling component of shotokan kata will be incorporated into main stream shotokan karate I guess only time will tell, but it would be great if the incorporation of kata grappling was standardized just like striking and recognized all over the world by the major shotokan organisations and associations.

My ideas are as follows.

In order for kata grappling to be included in shotokan, a new sub-component of kata will need to be added to the existing shotokan syllabus which some karate pioneers have already appropriately named kata sparring.

1. First the kihon, kata (solo) and kumite side of karate will not change and will be the first things that a newbie learns.

2. Each kata still needs to be learned in the solo form before proceeding to bunkai, oyo, kata sparring and grappling, this keeps the the three K's intact and makes the student very familiar with the kata.

3. Before learning any kata applications, grappling or kata sparring the student will be required to learn break falling and rolling.

4. Since kihon kata and kumite each form a third of karate training, then one third of shotokan karate will be devoted to the grappling techniques found within shotokan kata.

5. As each kata is learned the student should gain a good proficiency in the application and execution of all the individual grappling techniques within that kata. That is you will be required to learn the individual grappling techniques of the kata as they are learned and applied in judo, jujitsu or aikido.

6. As each kata is learned so to the bunkai and oyo of that kata would need to be learned by the student so they can proficiently execute and apply striking and grappling techniques in accordance with that kata's theme, lesson, strategy and tactics for self defense applications.

7. The grappling and striking techniques found within the kata shall be practiced and applied in the new sub-component of the shotokan kata syllabus called kata sparring,

8. Kata Sparring

a. Kata techniques performed in two man drills first with a complaint partner and then with non complaint partner and aliveness.

b. Scenario training-Just like in Reality Based Self defence (RBSD) using self defense techniques from kata

c. Against certain techniques, eg.head lock or muay thai round kick etc.

d. Kata sparring - includes all grappling and striking found within kata

Jujitsu - Shihonage: Four Direction Throw - submissions 101