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diadicic's picture
Making Small changes to Kata.

Has anyone ever change a kata move a little because of another arts influence. For instance changing the way a grip is made on your own hand because the reason a different art did it made more sense and is more practical? <--- just an example.

It sure seems like the old masters did this as well.


Tau's picture

Have you seen my recent Taikyoku Shodan video? Around the 2 minute mark I show how I learned the kata and what my bunkai is based around, but also how I teach it differently to my Jujitsu students 

Leigh Simms
Leigh Simms's picture

Hi Dom!

Interesting and thought-provoking question. 

My base school up to 3rd Dan was Shotokan. The kata I train and teach now are largely the same as how I learned them coming up through the ranks. Besides changing the order of the Heian Kata to relfect their original Pinan order, the only major change I can think of is my removal of Kiba Dachi for Naihanchi Dachi in Tekki Shodan/Naihanchi Kata. 

Having being introduced to the stance by Iain and then with the addition of written work by Chris Denwood, I began to understand the structural positioning and body mechancis of the stance, something which its shotokan counterpart I never felt or believed in. That is not to say Kiba Dachi isn't useful or practical or that I have removed it completely from all the kata I teach.... it is just that for the Tekki Shodan kata, my club practices in naihanchi dachi. 

Dash3's picture

The students I teach are mostly young. My assumption is that they will move away for college and continue their practice, if at all, with a different club/dojo. With that assumption in mind, I teach drills that I find little value in (like five time attack) but are common in most shotokan dojo. For the same reason, I teach standard kata and my changes as alternatives that suit me and my bunkai (which is most definitely informed by my cross-training in other arts) better. For example, in the second sequence of Heian Shodan, I teach the standard gedan barai/hammer fist as the kata, but in application introduce a back fist, as my preference from my practice in Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijitsu. But whenever I change something, for whatever reason, I emphasize it as a deviation.

Tau's picture

Dash3 wrote:

Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijitsu.

Completely off topic, sorry.

I spent a weekend studying this style some years ago in Bedford. The instructor was Peter Klein Sensei from Germany. Very interesting style. He taught us the first kata.

Kevin73's picture

I'm always on the fence about this one.  I understand that changes have always been made to emphasize what that particular teacher wanted to do so.  I think that if you are part of an organization that the kata should be taught by those standards and show your students other ideas to practice along with the kata.  This way it preserves your lineage etc.

But, if you are an independant school, then I don't see an issue with this.  Again, letting students know what the orginal was and what the modification was.

With that being said, I have also seen people make changes to kata because it fits with a SPECIFIC application that they use/like.  Kata were not designed for specific applications only and the moves would have multiple meanings and applications that were learned through partner drills and the kata were kind of a "reminder" of those.  If you change the moves to only fit a specific application, you could loose information to future students.

So, to make a short answer even longer :-) if you make significant changes to the kata be very aware of "why" you are doing it and to what purpose you are making them.  If you are part of a specific organization that has set standards, I would say that it is a "no-no".  Also, if you follow the "traditional way" when you make changes to your kata and do something else, then you call it something else.