Form Follows Fiction

Form follows function,” an old concept borrowed from architecture is the congenial didactic behind karate kata, or so we were told.

It can be.

However, it can also be that – by and large – what teachers actually use as a design tool is “form follows fiction.”

That is, karate and its combative scenarios are ever being created and recreated as the product of stories and narratives, both real and imagined, of the people practicing it.

In short, it may well be that large parts of the functions assigned to today’s karate are not the results of personal traditions going back decades or even centuries, but the results of fiction.

Or, as they say, “Never Let The Truth Get In The Way Of A Good Story.”

In any case, “form follows fiction” should be recognized as a principal design tool of karate at least since about the 1950s, and increasingly over the 80s, 90s, 2000s until today, and therefore need be considered within the general modern karate discourse. 

© 2023, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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