Since migrating to the grappling arts, and regularly seeing karate but from the perspective of 90 degrees to the vertical, my overactive mind has been going crazy. I'm wondering if there's any logic to my thoughts on this. I've been very, very wrong before when it comes to martial arts theory. I might be just as wrong this time. Or I might have had an epiphany. Let's see what we all think.
Some of the techniques I had previously dismissed as highly impractical with a high energy cost and low probability of success, suddenly make a lot of sense when laid on your back. Consider for example, jumping scissor roundhouse kick. Probably nidan mawashigeri if I remember the Japanese terminology right, or e Dan tollyo chaki in Korean. We fling the left knee up, kind of twist and jump, then roundhouse with the right. I always thought I can get more speed, power, accuracy from the vanilla roundhouse, and being more stable, just as much height. Therefore this kick is pointless. Switch to a ground game, now the left knee comes up to protect you from being kicked in the ribs, and to double as counterbalance as you fling the right leg over to kick, or simply generate the momentum to quickly get back onto your feet.
I keep seeing kata elements in grappling too, often on the ground. What I previously thought of as an utterly pointless sort of side on awkward downward backfast while twisting from horse stance to a long front stance as found in passai for example, appeared in my first ever bjj class as a way of breaking guard.
So I get to thinking. Given that everyone knows that you can't fight unless you can fight on the ground or from a weak position, why are forms predominantly standing up?
If forms are combat moves, why are some moves done very slowly, or in some exaggerated way?
OK, if I'm training solo, I don't really want to roll around on the floor. Apart from getting my clothes dirty or damaged, I don't want passersby to think I'm completely weird. Tai chi folks get more than their fair share of stock, and they're upright.
Why do so many karate folks think that the chin should be up and back straight at all times? Why do we bow? Bowing is an act of making the other person bigger than you. You make yourself lower than them.
So what if kata / hyung / forms equally represent ground work and standing? But what if the reason they are predominantly done upright is simply a matter of convenience or perhaps a cultural element?
What if then, when looking for applications to forms, instead of looking exclusively for standing applications, we get down on the mats and see what we can use them for when someone is trying to submit us?