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Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture
Creating Kata?

Has anyone considered or actually created their own Kata?

I ask because I look at Kata created 50 to 200 years ago and the fighting systems were relevant to the environment of how one was attacked and who and where one was attacked and what with. Did they have their own issues being told you can't create a Kata etc you got to stick to what you've been taught.

What's the difference between Itosu Sensei Creating a Kata and say Abernathy Sensei creating a Kata. Both would have an understanding of Karate, what works what doesn't etc etc. why is that a Master from 50 to 100+ years ago has more credibility that say Me or any of the Guys on Here Like Iain or Tau etc who are extremely experience Martial Artists creating a extremely credible Kata.

These days it predominantly muggers or drunks etc so creating one for today's society is I feel relevant to karate.

But would a Kata created by a modern Karateka be considered as bonefide or would it be dismissed by "haters"

My reasoning behind this is that my Style of Ashihara Karate has Modern Jissen Kata as opposed to Traditional Kata as used by the Origin of his Karate Training which is Kyokushin. I can't comment on Enshin Kata, it looks Similar to Ashihara Kata but has its suttle differences

Kihon Kata 3

And Kihon Kata 2

Now Even Sosai Oyama was known to "create" a kata

Garyu Kata

Now for me several of the Kata tend to be similar so for example the 2 Ashihara Kata have been blended to create a Kihon Dai Kata with a few Techniques added of my own.

I've Done this for Kihon Kata - Reducing it from 3 Kata to 2.

For Kumite Kata - reducing it from 5 Kata to 2

And Jissen Kata from 2 Kata to 1 (although I've used Shoshin Kata 2 & 3 as well as Jissen Kata 1 & 2 to "create" 1 super kata)

Although they are different, Its only the same as making all 3 Naihanchi/Tekki Kata as 1 full Kata or the Pinan/Heian Series as 1 main Kata etc

It works well as its reduces the amount of Kata one needs to learn thus being able to concentrate on Bunkai/Ohyo of the Kata better.

With the Traditional Kata I've left them as they are, but I'm toying with the idea of merging Naihanchi with Niseishi kata, BUT cannot see where or how they could join for a better Bunkai Ohyo

bowlie's picture

I wondered about this as a leson idea to get people to think about the techniques they would use in a real fight. Sort of in the same way as the Hienan series. The students could make their own kata to record their favorite / best moves, and therefore their individual style. I was even wondering about using this as grading criteria. If they can create a kata, then explain why and demostrate that they have made an effective fighting system for them, thats pretty good. The exercise would get people thinking about wich techniques work best for them, and also about the nature of kata as a recording device.

As to why we dont need more kata, well the origionals have everything we need, dont we? violence is timeless really, at least broadly. A drunken thug is the same in 21st C uk and 17th C china

Jason Lester
Jason Lester's picture

Hi Ken,

i have indeed created my own Kata based on my real life fighting experience's, however, i dont teach it and if i did or shared it on youtube etc, i doubt it would gain fame so to speak like the Pinan / Heian's and other Kata. Im happy just to pass it on to my children if they want to study Karate and when ready.

It doesnt matter who creates a Kata today for the mystery behind the Bunkai of ancient Kata will continue to grow, keep Karate-Ka exploring and the passion burning. No body knows the real Bunkai for the Kata's passed down, no one is right or wrong when sharing their ideas.

Fighting is fighting and is no different today as it was hundreds of years ago, so to study a single Kata in depth one could easily defend themselves against modern thugs etc.

The Kata of yesterday will always be in the spotlight  and the real true Bunkai will always remain a mystery till the end of time.

Kind regards,


stephen's picture

Kata isn't a sacred cow, but we do have a cultural legacy in them, and at least they 'point the way'. I enjoy kata just for the aesthetics of them, never mind th e applications too! So for me it's two aspects.

 Kata provides a framework for training outside the dojo. If I'm  at home and wanting to train, I might not have a set goal in mind. If I do a kata then I have a raison d'etre for training, so it's a good way to warm up.

I think that if anyone has something to record and they want to put that  into a kata, then why not?

Maybe people should have their own personal kata, one that evolves over time so today's kata might not look anything like last year's kata.

There's an article here on one person's progress in developing a kata, and his reasons for doing so: http://dandjurdjevic.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/jisui-my-hybrid-internalexternal.html

Th0mas's picture

Hi Stephen

Dan often posts on these forums and it would be interesting if we could open a discussion around his rationale behind creating the kata.

I have skimmed his blog post (unfortunately I don't have time to trawl the huge amount of content Dan can produce) and clearly the amount of effort he has gone to to create his take on gekisai kata is very impressive.

From my brief review, it would seem the rationale for his new kata was to find a way to incorporate Chinese internal MA principles within a more hard style fighting style (like karate) and come up with something that was greater than the sum of its parts. Therefore allowing both sides of the MA world to benefit from that juxtaposition.

What I struggle with is that this is a similar rationale that Asai took to creating the Junro kata's (he noticed how Western karateka were very stiff and lacked fluidity in the way they moved and created a whole bunch of kata to help improve this...). It didn't really work very well..

For me, Dan's Kata seems to focus a little too much on performance over function. Personally I want a kata to have a raft of fighting principles underpinning the form, that deal with a particular senario or common self-protection theme. This is were I feel kata works best. The form of a kata as a process, and the way a practitioner moves, is very personal and is suseptable to change. Whilst the fighting principles are something of an outcome and rely less on a single path to success.

It may be that without a background in the Chinese internal fighting arts you may struggle understand the movement principles demonstrated in Dan's kata.

Anyway I stand to be corrected (I am sure Dan will respond smiley ).

Dan Djurdjevic
Dan Djurdjevic's picture

Hi Thomas.

Essentially this kata is a research kata.  You are right that it prioritises a way of movement - but that is because it is entirely an exploration of particular kinds of movement.  It is not intended to create or introduce techniques per se, but rather to explore one specific aspect of kata.  For this reason, I deliberately chose a very simple kata in terms of technique (gekisai) so as not to distract from the focus of the exercise.

My blog post is very detailed because it describes precisely why I structured each move the way I did.  I wrote it as a "complete record" rather than as something I thought many people would actually read.  Those interested in the intricacies of internal arts movement might wish to delve deeper, but I suspect most karateka/martial artists won't.

Yes, Asai was trying to make his kata movements more "flowing".  But in my respectful opinion, he did not succeed in this regard (he nonetheless achieved a great deal - I am just talking about the "flow" aspect here).  In my view, he did not understand connectivity (flow) fully - at least not in the sense of the internal arts, which prioritise this concept. 

I also understand that Asai, like many others, implemented his theories across all his kata.  Clearly I too could apply some of my conclusions from my research exercise to "change" all my existing karate kata.  But this is not something I would ever contemplate doing.  

For one thing, my research exercise reveals that there are multiple ways of "moving with flow" (ie. what I call "preserving momentum").  My  research was an attempt to analyse the diffferent ways of flowing in some sort of context.  Choosing between these methods of flow is, I've discovered, somewhat arbitrary.  I found myself making such choices in this exercise.  Even though I had reasons for choosing one over another for a particular context, I concede that this was largely a matter of personal taste.  My "interim" forms which focus on taiji, bagua and xingyi seperately reveal variations that ultimately bear almost no resemblance to each other or my "finished product".

Moreover kata/form isn't only about momentum flow.  Changing karate kata to make them "internal" or "Chinese" or "flowing" etc. ignores that they have their own valid and important  attributes/focal points which should not be abandoned by virtue of some "grand theory" (ie. dogma).  This is where "sine wave" and other such "theories" come unstuck, in my view: they make too many sweeping changes on purely ideological grounds.  (What is particularly odd about such ideolgoical "theories" is that they often have very little supporting them - certainly no systematic research.  General Choi's "sine wave" occupies a paragraph of his book.) 

So my research exercise was not about changing kata.  It was about gaining a deeper understanding of flow in movement - how it works, what its function is and how it can be applied to all form - if not in actual kata performance, then in the context of bunkai.  You can only really perform this sort of research by taking an existing external form and seeing what would happen if you applied internal arts "flow dynamics" - hence my "kenkyugata".  Analysing the internal arts (taijiquan, baguazhang or xingyiquan) on their own will only take you part of the way.  You need to compare such arts to something that is nothing like them.

If my research form is useful to some karateka as an adjunct to understand one area of focus (ie. internal arts "flow") then so much the better.  But it is an exercise in focus - not a "new paradigm" a la Asai etc.