DougNZ wrote:As an instructor, one has to ask why the old masters thought it important to dream up and implement a new kata. Was it to codify some important pieces of information or was it to fill up the last 30 minutes of class?
Allow me to try answering your question by limiting the scope to kata with a lot of atemi-waza, namely the karate kata, and not the Judo and koryu jujutsu kata.
Just on top of my head and with my rudimentary knowledge of karate kata, I see several reasons why the old masters created the kata and have their students do them.
Firstly, for the same reasons Judo has the Gokyo and the kata - to codify techniques and principles into a collection that is taught and passed down generation to generation.
They form part of the curriculum, with a certain learning order for specific reasons, such as how the Gokyo is in an order that makes it easier for uke to perform ukemi.
But why perform them in a sequence and not as standalone techniques? For easier memorisation and recalling. It is easier to remember a song, with rhyming and repeated lyrics chained together in a flowing manner, than individual sentences.
But performing them in a sequence is not helpful for learning to fight! Well, that is why bunkai is important, as is practising them with training partners and eventually in a randori setting.
They are good solo drills. At home without training partners? Arrived at the dojo early? Staying back late at the dojo? No excuse - train!
That they are solo exercises meant it can be performed at a pace and intensity set by the practitioner, depending on age, fitness, injuries, etc.
They make good warm-up exercises - self-explanatory, I hope.
On the occasion that one is asked to demonstrate the discipline, perhaps when alone, they can be performed in an aesthetic way appreciable by people not familiar with martial arts.