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Knut Erik Landgraff
Knut Erik Landgraff's picture
Plato's Theory of Forms

Sometimes I wonder if the late masters when modifying the original katas were influenced by Plato's Theory of Forms. Same with kihon.

"Basically, Plato divided the world into two – the ideal and the real. He put an emphasis on the good of the former over the latter."


AllyWhytock's picture


If we consider Kata as a pedagogical tool for relaying embodied knowledge to oneself or to others then, from where did this knowledge come from?

From experience, whether from people who have experienced actual physically violent encounters or from experimentation conducted by people with experience of physically violent encounters.

As a tool, a kata is the conveyance of ideas that once decomposed, introduce a multitude of solutions to real-world physical problems i.e., a kata is created capturing the embodied knowledge garnered from real-world experience and practice. 

Originally intended as an aide-memoire for solo practice, kata have become, because of the passage of time, the conveyance of ideas from the progenitors or from regenerators of the kata. Hence, the latter role of kata has replaced the original aide-memoire intention. 

Kata itself is an object, a collect of ideas, rather than the ideas themselves.

Consider a complex system that is decomposed (“bunkai”) into well-defined and understandable components that are described in the idea space as classifications with properties containing static information, dynamic information and dynamic function. The classification in the idea space can be instantiated in the real world as an object or as a proxy representing a real object i.e., idea becomes reality or theory to practicality. For a complex system is a collection of classifications that describe a real-world collection of objects, capable of interacting with each other and the surrounding environment.

Classifications can be used as the basis to derive other classifications that, whilst inheriting the properties of the base classification, introduce new properties, thereby providing variation of classification to address variation of objects. A classification is singular template that can be applied to define a plurality of real-world objects or mechanisms. A complex system will have a collection of such classifications.

Consider the said classifications as the ideal or perfect “form”. Instantiations of the classification i.e., objects are the real-world object or entity that fits the classification. Again the kata is not the idea but rather the container for the idea. 

Kindest Regards, Ally