Why is this? I seem to remember that when I first began to study karate, I felt the same way, but I told myself that kata were the essence of karate technique, simplified and perfected by many experts before, so naturally they were bound to prove useful in a real fight.
Unfortunately, after all these years of study, if you asked me whether kata did prove of any use, I would honestly be at a loss to give a positive answer.
With this in mind, I re-examined traditional kata in the light of the rationale I first explained in the preface of this book; that is, the continuing improvement in martial arts techniques.
Up till now, the theory behind kata (and karate in general) seems to have been to move faster than the opponent; even if you got hurt, it was acceptable as long as you could inflict more damage on the other person.
Taking this into consideration, it is no wonder that traditional kata can be thought of as worthless for real fighting. I believe that what the karate masters of old left us is fine, and should be preserved, but it is the martial arts and karate experts of our day who are responsible for studying, thinking, and practicing in order to create new techniques which are suited to our age and useful in real fighting."
~ Excerpt from 'Fighting Karate', by Ashihara Hideyuki