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Stephan Kesting & Iain: Thoughts on the Value of Kata

In this podcast, Stephan Kesting & I discuss our thoughts on the value of kata. I really enjoyed this conversation for two main reasons: Firstly, Stephan is a really nice and genuine guy.  He was fun to talk to. Secondly, we disagree on the nature and value of kata; and that made for an interesting conversation. Neither of us changed our viewpoint as a result of the conversation, but we both enjoyed having it. Whatever your own view, we hope you will enjoy listening too.

The conversation came about as a result of a YouTube video Stephan put out in the summer called, “Why Kung Fu Forms and Karate Kata are (Mostly) Pretty Useless!” You can view the video here:

I was contacted by a lot of people wanting to know my thoughts on the video. Some of whom were quite upset by it! Although, I’m unsure if some of those who were upset had watched the video (i.e. reacting to the title and not the content). Around the same time Stephan was asking his audience who they’d like to hear from on his podcast; and my name came up. Long story short (full history is in the podcast), Stephan and I put a date in the diary to chat and this podcast is the result. It first came out in Stephan’s “Strenuous Life” Podcast:

I’ve added a little introduction, and then it has the entirety of the podcast as Stephan put it out.

At the risk of “spoilers”, I will say that, although Stephan and I remain firm in our original viewpoints, we do agree on quite a lot of general points. I will also say that much of what Stephan critiques about the way kata are practised are things that myself, and those like me, also critique. This was, therefore, not a “debate” between “opposing sides”. This was a friendly and objective conversation around the topic of kata between two people with differing viewpoints. Please listen to it in that spirit. Digest the points made, by both of us, and consider how they apply to your training and your experience of kata.

Objective criticism, from both outside and within, is vital for the health of any worthwhile martial art. I’m therefore really grateful to Stephan for sparking further discussion on these important topics and for making this podcast happen. Whatever your own take on this topic, I am confident you will enjoy the discussion.  

All the best,


Thoughts on the Value of Kata
Stephan Kesting & Iain Abernethy