Sunday, July 29, 2018

Musical Kata

Musical Kata


From 1978 through 1984 I competed, judged at, attended open tournaments in the old Region 10 (Basically Pennsylvania).


There was nothing like the internet or yourtube in those days. Martial arts videos were just starting to be sold as a business, and probably the greatest source of information were the karate magazines.


What was traditional was either what your instructor told you was traditional, or what the judges of the day considered traditional arts. And of course the times, as always, they were a changing.


Events that used to be competed in were being set aside. New ‘traditional arts’ were constantly being born.


Today many would balk at the designation ‘traditional’ being applied  to some of those arts. But that was then and this is now. Things were different.


Some of the changes were laying the groundwork for what is modern karate today.

Some were very traditional. Some were something else again.


One of the things that started in those days (at least as far as I was concerned) were the inclusion of musical kata.


I had never heard of that, but in the magazines they talked about Jhoon Rhee’s attempts at using his TKD forms with classical music.


Here is a video of that form.  Jhoon Rhee Form to Exodus


 Perhaps more geared toward the National events than the regional kata.


Solid forms were like this one from Jean Frenette of Canada.

Some that I saw were custom built forms to match the music. Others just performed a kata with some music being played at the same time, which occasionally matched the form  and at times did not match.


The very best form I ever saw was one Gary Michak performed to the Superman Theme.\

He even did it one time for the youth attending a youth tournament I ran.


It was perfectly choreographed to the music. Unfortunately, though bright in my memory, I can find no copy of it anywhere. The music was extremely stirring as was his form.

Superman theme- John Williams


Having not see where this type of competition went I just found this video.

But to me there are more frentic efforts.


Best musical forms of all time 1st to 10th



When I was a yellow belt Lewis Sensei was preparing the yellow belts for a local karate demonstration. He drilled and drilled us in how he wished us to perform Kata Seiunchin.

And it was to be done with the song  “the Hustle’ playing in the background.



 We did the demonstration, and no there is not video of it.


But for the next 20 years whenever I did kata Seiunchin, that song would resonate in my mind. At the same time for that 20 years Seiunchin was my favorite kata.


Then things changed, I had been an instructor for a long time, and no longer had a favorite form. They were all my favorites.


I remember one time when I had 4 adult brown belts training, and a local tournament was coming up, I challenged them to do our stick form in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle outfits to the movie theme song, and if they did so I would grant them immediate black belts.

Unfortunately they did not rise to the challenge.


So much for an attempt to interject some fun into their lives.


Then continued in the regular training order.


Of course I was serious. There are too few times in our lives when we can do something just for fun.


Years later I had chance to give  Ernie Rothrock a break during a clinic.


My son and I performed Kata Seiunchin together. Now I did not practice with my son, but I had a group of advanced kyu students that drilled in a group performance of Seiunchin Kata. And of course I had taught the group the timing.


Here is our performance.




Afterwards everyone congratulated us for staying together, I don’t think they believed me when I told them we did not practice together.


Of course when we did the kata the music from the Hustle was rolling around in my head.


I never taught anyone else that way.









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