Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Value of Traditional Kata

During the last edition of the Yoshukai Tournament in Dothan on October 30, 2010. I was watching a weapons kata competition. 2 black belt were opposed in that group. One competed with a traditional sai kata - Yosei no Sai, one competed with a non traditional Sword Kata.

The traditional Sai kata was that : Traditional. There needs to be nothing flashy about fighting. If you watch the video of Yamamoto and Koda Sensei performing Sai tai Bo, you will see nothing fancy, but sharp and short moves right to the point. Basically if you are in front of  someone who masters all the moves of Yosei no Sai, it is going to be very difficult to reach them unless you own a a gun.

The Sword Kata was very fancy, a mixture of Iaido and twirling baton, that flashy sword was everywhere, flashing in everybody's eyes. Yes, it was impressive to the untrained eye. jumps, multiple drawings, loud kiai... But practically, anyone with 2 to 3 years of traditional kendo or kenjutsu training could have cut in the middle of this dance with a mere boken (Wooden sword) or Jo (short wooden staff)  and whacked senseless the competitor on the head. 

Nevertheless, this last competitor, even after being unable to properly perform noto (slide the blade back in its sheath) won the trophy.

After all these years, even if I should have gotten used to this kind of things, that just made me angry. I still can't accept mediocrity. The problem is not in the competitor, but in the judges who let such fallacy go on. Here we had 5 judges supposedly highly competent in their own style of Martial Art, and they graded a flashy dance without any martial value above a well executed traditional form. If these persons are not able to see the actual fighting value of a traditional kata properly executed, versus a non traditional routine poorly done, maybe they should not be judging in a Karate Tournament. 

Chris Wheeles performed the Sai Kata in Dothan. He just opened his own Dojo in Gulf Shore, AL. If you wish to practice good and traditional Karate, give him a try.

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