Again, this is my opinion only…
It has been said that the combinations and katas of Shaolin Kempo are the backbone of the system( please note that shaolin kempo uses “kata’s” as a name of specific forms, unlike other styles where the term “kata” is equal to the term “form”). As a seeker of excellence in my chosen art, naturally this type of statement grabs my attention. “The backbone of the system”…I mean, wow…how can I not be drawn into an in depth study of these two key points???
So, historically the development of the combinations and kata is fairly well documented until about combination 30. We see the origins in Kajukenbo and their evolution as they spread from West to East until things culminate in the 6 Kata of George Pesare.
Unfortunately, I have not been able to find much written on the katas and combinations other than historical information and musings.
As I mentioned in my previous blurb, the most rich interpretation I have found of katas 1-5 have been through using the combinations as keys. Without such interpretation they are little more than line drills, really. In the sense, that the Katas do not codify Shaolin Kempo flow, tactics, strategies and fighting principles. However, our numbered combination techniques do just that for the system. So, of what benefit is one to 5 kata in a system that teaches the Pinan / Heian forms?
When Kajukenbo was growing, they did not have the Pinan/Heian series as we do. When Nick Cerio brought them into his teachings and Fred Villari kept them in his Shaolin Kempo the need and benefit for the katas diminished greatly.
I count no more than six techniques, maybe eight at the max, in the Kata series that are not found in the numbered combinations or the Pinan series. Please note that I do not have all of the 108 numbered combinations. Let that sink in for a while…
I still practice and teach them, as they are a part of our history. However, I wonder what we, as Shaolin Kempo practitioners would loose, if we dropped them all together. Our distinction from other styles would remain due to our method, numbered combinations and the above dan rank forms. We would have more time to delve deeper into our forms and combinations. Seriously, to what degree do we benefit from continuing to use these forms we call 1 to 6 kata?