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Paul_D's picture
Bespoke Kata Techniques

Whilst there are techniques in kata which have can multiple uses and applications, I was wondering if there are techniques within kata that are so bespoke they can really on have one use?

As an example, is the take down in Unsu.  Whilst it is sometimes taught as a strike (due to the use of Ippon Nukite) I have only ever seen one explanation that fully explains everything that’s happening; the stance, the footwork, and why all of the digits of the hand are in the precise positions they are in.  

That explanation is the takedown as taught by Iain.

So whilst there are other explanations, because they fail to fully explain all what all the parts of the body are doing, they cannot be correct.  As I say, I’m not aware of any other explanation that satisfactorily explains all the parts of the movement (if you have any please post), so this movement seems pretty bespoke.

So, are there any other movements in kata that other people think are so specific they can only have one use? 

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi Paul,

I’m not sure “bespoke” is the right word as I take that to mean, “made for a specific individual”, whereas all kata techniques are made for use by others. That’s why the kata were communicated and taught. I get what you mean though. We are looking at methods that were clearly and unambiguously designed for one purpose.

If we take the example of a bespoke suit, then it is clearly designed to specifically fit a given individual, but it could be a “good” (if not perfect) fit for another individual … and I could also use it effectively as a rag to wipe oil off the dipstick of my car too. Kata motions are similar in that they can have one optimum use and several suboptimum uses. It is also possible for kata motions to have a couple of equally valid uses, but that’s rare as the is almost always something that things one way or the other.

In my teaching, I assign what I see as the optimum use the label of the “primary application”. What I consider to be valid applications (they fit the kata, they are not at variance with the nature of the kata as defined by the past masters, and, most importantly, they work), but not as strong as the “primary”, I assign the label of “secondary applications”. Ones that don’t work are obviously discounted entirely.

So, we are looking for motions that have no “secondary applications”. I can think of a many of those; from my personal perceptive. However, as a collective, they will be few and far between because even if I afford the movement one application only, then there will be others who consider it differently (as we see all the time here). Especially, when you factor in variations in the solo kata too.

The Unsu start is a good example of what you are looking for, because I personally can’t see that having an alternate application … but there may be other members here who disagree?


Paul_D wrote:
So, are there any other movements in kata that other people think are so specific they can only have one use?

In short, yes, lots of them. However, others are sure to see things differently. So, by putting forth an application we see as being the only valid one, we are effectively saying, “if you think differently, or your kata is different, then you are wrong because there is only one valid way to see this.” I think that may be why the thread has “hung” a little.

While will all have our personal 100% “this is this, and this only” applications (and lots of them), there is something of an acceptance that others can think differently. We argue, debate and disagree loads here. But we are generally open to alternative views on kata, even where we do not personally adopt what is shared and feel our own viewpoint to be better.

As I say, I get what you are asking for. But I suspect the reason the thread hasn’t got going could be because the unintended implication of posting any examples could be, “my take on this motion is the only valid one and everyone should adopt it”?

All the best,