I often get asked the question as to what I think about Kata or Forms. Many Eastern Arts have these in their teachings and they have been around a long time.
Russian Martial Arts do not have the same structure and although there are some weapon drills (similar to Martial Arts Kata Forms) there are no formalized movements.
The purpose of kata or forms is to give a set of movements in order to practice the techniques and also build the spirit of the art within the student.
The student will start with the most basic forms and then over time will advance to more complicated forms until all of the forms are learned within the art. Forms go hand in hand with the techniques of the art and sparring.
The idea is to put the techniques into movement and practice them correctly, maintaining balance, the correct posture and also in performing the technique. The techniques are often practiced in two-man drills until the student has the technique mastered.
Now to my opinion and I must stress that I have nothing against any Martial Art. For me personally, I do not practice forms in the traditional manner although I may practice repeated throws and other grappling techniques.
I prefer to teach the student to come up with his or her own techniques in response to any attack. In this manner, the student will come up with their own response to any attack and over time, they will ingrain their own ‘forms’ or as I put it, response to certain attacks in their mind. I will stress however that there is no specific response to a specific attack, it is simply an expression of an idea that the student has and whether or not it will work, is understood by working the technique under pressure.
I also teach students to work on slow attacks, to give the defender a chance to see the attack and then create a response. In the ‘slow work’ as it is called, the response, as I said before is ingrained or ‘hardwired’ into the brain and over time, it will be able to be recalled and used when you need it.
If you do practice kata or forms then to add reality, picture an attacker or a series of attackers in front or around you and imagine dealing with them. This is essential to add some dimension of reality.