Modern karate, I believe, has
strayed from the correct path, with many instructors
separating the practice of kata and kumite. They think
the two are not the same thing. I disagree with this
point of view.
When I started karate, in 1981, I enjoyed both kata
and kumite, but we trained in them separately. It was
hard at first to see a connection between the two.
As I gained more understanding of the kata, I saw that
they contained the real kumite. I also understood that
many people wanted to learn to fight only, and did
not have the patience to master the moves of kata.
So, over time, instructors have split the two and lost
the ‘realism’ inherent
in kata. Sport karate grew out of this split.
O-Sensei was both a gifted fighter and kata
For him, there was no difference between
kata and kumite.
When kata is treated as different than kumite, then
the proper progression of movement to movement is not
fully learned. A person can learn how to do kumite,
and can become quite good at it, but the kumite is
a response to a familiar and limited number of attacks,
as defined by the dojo or tournament rules. When kumite
is learned with the mindset that almost anything can
happen, then the kata in the kumite can be observed.
This type of training helps develop a calm mind that
can react to anything.
On the other hand, if kata is done without kumite
thinking, then the essence of the kata is lost. Kata
is kumite and kumite is kata – they are interwoven.
Of course, they can be learned separately and a karateka
can become good at them both. However, taken together
they will propel him or her to a higher level of training.
The kata include all aspects of defence and offence,
and all types of target areas. If one performs kata
only for a score in a tournament, then it is merely
a pretty dance. If one carefully researches how and
why movements are done, and their real applications,
then the kumite that is in the kata will
be discovered. And it will change how
the kata is performed.
I believe one could practise nothing but kata, seriously
researching the moves, and never do kumite separately,
and become a very skilled fighter. This of course is
not the kumite of tournaments. This is the kumite of
life or death, where the winner is the one who is still
alive. I regard the applications of the kata as the
true reality of training.
Grey-Bruce Ryusei Karate