View Full Version : koryu kata vs combat

19th February 2003, 13:56
Hi all..
This one really got me...This is the situation..
I had a good friend over a few days back and as I know he is interested in Martial arts (He doesn't train himself though..) I figured he might enjoy seeing the Shinto Ryu video by Sugino Yoshio-S...We watched the whole tape and when it finished I asked what he thought....His reply really suprised me. It was along the lines of "Yeah....It was good I guess. But I just wish that it was more real...You know? The kata just looked as if they were being performed. Could these guys really use any skills if they had to?"
.....I was quite honestly stuck for a short enough answer to give him. I believe that he wanted to see something like the last scenes in Bruce Lee's 'Fists of Fury' ('Chinese connection'?)..All screaming and flying blades...The whole point of the Shinto Ryu kata missed him. Completely...And I found it hard to reply.
The question here is this: Can anyone find a good response (Short, to the point etc..)that would sum up the idea of Kata learning. Without recommending a complete course of Draeger's books followed by the three Koryu.com books...For someone who thinks that swordfights should equal film-choreography? Is it even worth the attempt? Any ideas on this one? It beat me.....I KNOW (Well....As well as I can being a nobody..) that Kata are used as one process of a final result but without a lecture how can I easily explain it to others...
Thanks for any help on this one...:(

19th February 2003, 21:26
If he doesn’t train, he doesn’t need to know. I would just give my best Mifune grunt and leave it at that. Barring that there is always the “Duel” scene from “Seven Samurai”...

This is how so much stuff is hidden in plain sight.

20th February 2003, 06:27
Show him the video of Otake sensei doing the kata. What I've seen in video of he and his son simply floored me with its elegant violence. Saw enbu in my dojo (from Sugawara sensei's students) amazed me too.


20th February 2003, 13:23
Hi Mr. Power,
Yes..I was told that was a good alternative in another PM..It seems to contain more 'fire' perhaps and that may be the answer. I guess that you mean the Nihon Budokan tape as I could not find any others on Shinto Ryu...If not could you suggest where I could find the tape in question?
Thanks for the help.
Shinto Ryu; Nihon Budokan tape (http://www.buyubooks.com/product_details.cfm?id=10000)

Andy Watson
20th February 2003, 14:50
I normally try to explain weapons budo that most individual fights lasted no more than a few, or even one, seconds.

The kata's are long to engrain a flowiness into one's movements but that they are training method only and don't try to represent real combat at all.

Mark A. Carter
20th February 2003, 15:38
There is an old saying in the skydiving community:
"Those who don't, can't understand. Those who do, can't explain."

Some people were meant to take the red pill, some people were meant to take the blue pill. :)

20th February 2003, 17:27
I am throwing my two cents in with Andy on this one. I have several times heard the "but what if they do this instead?" question from folks watching kata. The quick and simple answer is that kata are merely training excercises. They are to train the body to react within the system, not to conjure up all possible battlefield scenarios. That usually satisfies, but there are still those that want it to look just like last week's episode of Highlander!


Cady Goldfield
20th February 2003, 17:30
I agree with Guy. The Otake videos are tops for seeing "real." The sequence of Otake Risuge doing iai kata is just breathtakingly intense. Even an unschooled eye would be able to see it for what it is.

If you have any tapes of TSKSR embu, that would do the trick too. I was lucky enough to acquire some, thanks to the late (and sorely missed) Ubaldo Alcantara. You won't see anything quite like Otake Risuge and his sons when they wield the weapons of TSKSR.

Any tapes of Sugino in his younger days would be impressive, too. Unfortunately, the most commonly distributed one appears to the one that was made when he was in his 90s, and not able to demonstrate the power and fire of his technique when he was at the apex of his abilities.

21st February 2003, 13:29
Hello all.
Many thanks for all the help one this one...It is appreciated.
I think that I shall follow the 'consensus' opinion here and get my paws on a copy of the Otake-s. tape...It does make a good case when you all agree on that one video being right for me to show..
Failing that I will hit him over the head with the tape in a 'kata'-type fashion until he accepts that Kata are a vital part of Japanese fighting arts... ;)
Once again thanks to all the contributers here (And Mr. Weil too...Domo arigato sir:smilejapa )

Adam Young
21st February 2003, 19:00
Otake Risuge Otake Risuke. ;)

And I agree that the videos are incredible. I watch them a couple times a week and an still blown away at the "force" of his kata. Seeing it live, however....wow.

Cady Goldfield
21st February 2003, 20:13
Originally posted by Adam Young
Otake Risuke. ;)

And I agree that the videos are incredible. I watch them a couple times a week and an still blown away at the "force" of his kata. Seeing it live, however....wow.

Arrrrgh! Spelling Error! I've been caught redhanded with a Spelling Error!!!
Thanks, Adam. :D

Joel Simmons
27th February 2003, 10:16

I would ask him, "What do you expect 'real' martial arts to look like?" Find out what his expectations are for the video he is watching/watched and explain to him that entertainment films are choreographed. Kata may be a sort of choreography, however, its purpose is far different from trying to impress people with flying, spinning, inverted kicks while you do your taxes.

One of the above posts said something about the "duel" scene in Seven Samurai. Perfect for him to watch.


27th February 2003, 15:47
Hi Joel.
Yes that is a good way to see what is expected...But I am pretty sure that he expected to see something that was closer to film choreography. Although he would deny it both me and him have always watched the types of MA on screen that use effects, wires, slow-mo, close-ups, and the other tools of the trade that make modern film. Now that I train using Kata as one method I feel that I can understand the points they train and how well they train them...However, he and the general public think Kata is less 'martial' ("Real" were his precise words) than the film displays, even if only slightly convinced...We are realistic to a certain extent and would never admit that we expect 20 foot Tobi geri while cutting Shomen in reality but the slight 'colour' of the way it is shown in general in the media, I believe has swayed the understanding that most people have when discussing Martial arts....
He has seen the Kurosawa fight scenes (Excluding 'Throne of Blood' of course!) and enjoyed them....Also the film 'Ame Agaru' which has very precise and short weapons scenes..But he has not made the connections between the two methods.....Sadly.
Thanks again for the help.
(Like the Avatar too:D !)

Joel Simmons
5th March 2003, 12:41

Hey, thanks for the compliment on the avatar. I finally got one of my fellow classic Volkswagen addicts to host it on his site. Always liked Donatello...the smart one...keep the guy at a distance with the kenbo. :)

Is your friend interested in actually learning a martial art? Or, is he just a spectator? If he is thinking about studying, then I think he will learn very quickly why things are so "simple", compared to the cinema. Of course, if he is just a martial arts cinema fan, then I suppose there's no use convincing him. Its like when I was a kid arguing with my friends, that Donatello, with his bo, really could beat Leonardo, with his two katana. :) Just be stoic in your opinions on what is "real" and what is not. Perhaps he will recognize you for the knowledge you are willing to impart.

Oh, wait. Just thought of a good movie scene. Watch "Brother" by Beat Takeshi. One of the first scenes shows Takeshi's character being harassed by Omar Epps' character. Epps' is complaining about a broken bottle of wine he accuses Takeshi of causing him to drop. Takeshi picks up the bottle, swiftly places it in Epps' right eye and sucker punches him in the solar plexus. This manuever should work on 99% of Earth's human population.

5th March 2003, 15:22
Hi Joel..
No....I have tried to get him to look at taking some form of Martial art up but honestly I feel he prefers to be a 'thinking' fighter...You know the type, maybe 3-4 months of one art and a 'deep' reading of a variety of Bruce Lee books then something new (If that!) and at the end you have an 'understanding' of fighting that is actually FAR more advanced than us idiots (And masters naturally..) who meakly follow forms again and again! Pity really but it's HIS loss in the end...However painfully the end comes!
He just ain't interested..Bottom line. I can't change that, he could but probably won't so there is no real point in my getting vexed over it.....I LOVE the videos...;)
Again, thanks for the help!

(Leo was my favorite....A turtle in control of self is a MEAN TURTLE! "BAD MUTHA' -SHUT YOUR MOUTH- TALKING BOUT LEO!".....Sorry! Sidetracked myself there....I DO however agree with the Bo's overall strengths. Sai? Nunchaku?....Well it IS fantasy I guess!)

11th March 2003, 14:58
Why would anyone (not in the martial arts) think kata was realistic? Why would anyone (in the martial arts) think kata was realistic?

The natural reaction of the untrained is most often the truest compliment - or truest criticism. They are not steeped in the mystical, or loyal to a style. What they see is real. What they feel in their gut is real.

Do you think your freind would have a differenct reaction watching PRIDE or one of the first 3 or 4 UFC's? I do.

I do not wish to be inflamatory - but kata is a form of practice that unifies the mind and body, and hardens the spirit, and is only a tool to help a martial artist practice technique. It is not THE technique necessary for self defense. I think that was what your friend was expecting. Attack and defense. Those who practice only kata rarely can fight for real.

12th March 2003, 13:35
Hello Sir.
Yes...I agree with that completely. I would say that what got to me (As such..) was that he missed EVERY single point that the kata teach. The strikes to the wrists he deemed rather "useless" and the defensive movements he believed could be "broken"....It was not that I think kata are real and that one should use them to fight only..But that he completely missed the entire point of training that way. And actually laughed at it...:mad:
He is impressed by UFC (The first anyway....As was I) but again I believe that that is also no way to 'see' reality and that in general the public seem convinced that 'real fighting' is NOT fighting unless you are flying through the air screaming...(Not quite that obvious I accept but the idea has been placed there). If you say you are a 'Martial Artist' people ALWAYS have a set expectation of what you SHOULD do in any given situation..IMHO. That 'idea' is rarely looking for the finer points of a slash to a tendon in the arm or a cut to the forehead to blind an opponent etc..They want to see a cut straight through the body...Like the films.
Again, this is just my opinion of a 'general' public view and perhaps I am wrong but in my own experience it has been seen that often the expectations of one's abilities are shadowed by the 'idea' of (Eastern especially..) martial art...Mystical, religious/enlightened, divine, super-human etc...:rolleyes:
Thanks for the point that you raise though. I don't think it is worth explaining anymore..Unless you do it it really has little meaning. Again, that was probably the point of kata in the first place, to obscure to some degree the actuality of any given movement in the form...Or one of the reasons anyway..

18th March 2003, 13:36
Hi all.
Well....I managed to obtain a copy of the TSKSR Budokan video version with enbu by Otake-s.....My God!
What a difference! While the Sugino-s version seems to slow things down somewhat (Perhaps a little more teaching-aimed? Or restricted by age?) the Otake-s kata are amazingly quick. The thing just rushes past you in a blur of kesa giri's and kiai! TRULY awesome!
Thanks for the contributions. If I can get his view on the new one I will see what he thinks.....Anyways..The video is honestly one of the best depictions of what kata should be I have seen. Are there any other recommendations in the series for more of the same? Due to cost I have to think about these things first....Itto Ryu? Shinkage Ryu? Jigen Ryu? Any personal favorites here?
Thanks again.

The Tengu
21st March 2003, 13:56

This thread reminds me of the time I showed the James Williams tameshigiri video clips from bugei.com to my wife...

Me: This is awesome!
Wife: ...
Me: What, you don't think so?
Wife: How hard could that be? What's he cutting, a stick?
Me: It's tatami...
Wife: You mean he cut up a perfectly good tatami mat?!
Me: Well no, not exactly its...
Wife: It was just standing on a pole, it wasn't moving!
Me: Well no that's not really the point.
Wife: It would have been better if the mats were swinging back and forth from ropes, you know moving around.
Me: But he just cut that thing three times before it hit the floor.
Wife: So? It wasn't moving! I bet he couldn't do that to a real person fighting back.
Me: But it takes skill to be able to cut like that!
Wife: Anybody can practice long enough cutting tatami mats, especially if they're not moving!
Me: ...
Wife: I guess it was okay, it just wasn't that impressive.
Me: ...


21st March 2003, 14:04
Hi Greg...
Yeah....I know that it ain't just me that gets these kind of questions...I think that ultimately the ONLY real sure way to let the other person see what you see is to get them to try it...Most won't/can't...But if they DO then maybe they would see it as you see it...
Until then they just keep these nice, safe, warm, and generally unrealistic opinions in their heads...And life goes on.
Did you ask your wife to try the "easy" tameshigiri? Now that might have settled it.... :D

21st March 2003, 14:04
Twice? I need a new PC....This wind up one just aint cuttin it no more...
DELETED...See below.

21st March 2003, 14:05