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What’s the Point of Katas or Forms in the Martial Arts?

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If you have attended a martial arts class whether it was Karate, Tae Kwon Do, or Kung Fu as had to practice a form or Kata. A form or Kata is a system or series of moves and techniques that are done in a specific order. Most students start martial arts anticipating to learn how to fight.

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Many times they are just dying to start sparring against an opponent from the beginning. However, most traditional martial art schools will make you start off by learning their forms or Katas before you will be allowed to spar at all. This can be seriously frustrating for the aspiring MMA fighter.

Even if you just planned to use your new skills in the school playground or neighborhood, so many of these forms appear to be so out of touch with reality and contain moves or series’ of strikes you could never use without taking a serious pummeling.  So what’s the point really?

Don’t Quit!

Before you quit classes and give up hope of ever being able to practice something you find useful, give this some thought. Yes, a big part of forms is tradition and may seem like more of the art part of the martial arts.  However, they can be quite useful for training no matter what your skill level. Besides teaching you new moves and perfecting the elements of your strikes these forms if practiced correctly with the right intensity provide an incredible workout by themselves and improve your balance.

Try Doing Kata For An Hour…

Try doing your form repeatedly for an hour with high intensity and I can assure you, you will be sore and worn out. Plus these are great workouts you can do if you are traveling or on vacation without a gym or dojo you can attend.

Beyond this, forms and katas are extremely useful for building muscle memory. Training in some classes can involve practicing your form in multiple directions, backwards and even blind folded. Your muscles will know these movements extremely well, and they will become instinctive thus enabling you to unleash them without thinking. Obviously whether you are defending yourself in a dark alley or planning a fighting career this is essential to have. So instead of giving your instructor a hard time about it, thank him next time you go to class, put your all into your forms and hopefully he’ll repay you with letting you do some extra sparring, but be sure to wear the appropriate sparring gear!


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Tony Hackerott has written 338 post in this blog.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Chris Connor Says:

    I agree—katas and forms can be extremely useful.

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