Benefits of Martial Arts Kata, Forms & Patterns

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Benefits of Martial Arts Kata, Forms & Patterns

This section reviews the benefits of learning kata, forms and patterns. Forms are known as kata in Japanese martial arts, taolu in Wushu, poomsae in Taekwondo, etc. While some martial arts (i.e. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) see little value in kata, many other martial arts value and use kata/forms extensively (such as Karate, Taekwondo, Tang Soo Do and Kung Fu). You might like to explore our community section where visitors discuss whether Kata is Useful or Useless and Positives & Negatives of Kata.

For kata videos and instructions (i.e. for Shotokan kata or Taekwondo forms & patterns), please visit the main Kata & Forms section.

Benefits of Kata - According to kata proponents

  • Solo practice. The ability to practice martial arts techniques without a partner.
  • Ability to practice dangerous techniques without injuring a partner (i.e. practicing to break an elbow joint).
  • Teaches students how to use a variety of techniques (i.e. kicks, strikes and blocks) in different combinations.
  • Reinforces the knowledge of basic techniques and stances via repetition.
  • Muscle memory of different self-defense techniques due to repetition.
  • Concentration.
  • Balance training.
  • Improved fitness & conditioning.
  • Bunkai (kata training with a partner) reinforces the lessons learned in solo kata and shows how kata techniques are applied against a "real" opponent.
  • Safe practice of weapon-based training (as you are striking an imaginary opponent).
  • Honors the ancient traditions of a martial arts since kata has been taught for centuries.
  • Slow kata can be used a form of "moving meditation" or "dynamic mediation".
  • According to USA Taekwondo, benefits include "You don't get kicked in the face. You don't have to make weight. People are nice to each other. Families can take part. Older people can compete".

Perceived Negatives of Kata - According to kata opponents

  • Too stilted & scripted.
  • Imaginary opponents "don't hit back" (paraphrasing a famous Bruce Lee saying).
  • Too slow. Live opponents move much faster than the actions in kata.
  • Teaches some questionable or "antique" techniques.
  • Many instructors do not teach the self-defense aspects of kata. Therefore, kata can be perceived as a martial arts "dance" needed just to pass a belt test.
  • Difficult to practice grappling techniques with kata.
  • Can be boring for beginners.
  • Some styles require students to learn multiple katas. This can be difficult to remember, especially as you progress in your martial arts training and you must remember all of the past kata that you were taught.

Benefits of Kata - Shotokan Instructor

Reference Sources

  1. USA Taekwondo, Poomsae Articles,, Added - 05/25/15

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