Mike Mello and Rob,
First of all let me say that I am very much in favor of much that you say. And to Mike Mello welcome to the discussion.
I concur whole heartedly that strikes, punches and kicks may not be the most appropriate techniques for a LEO to concentrate on. It has always been a source of discomfort to think that if the only tool in the bag is a hammer every problem begins to look like a nail!
Progressing the student to a dynamic environment as quickly as he/she is ready is also important.
The process of a training a gross motor skill or a fine motor skill generally will be facilitated by ensuring that the technique is correctly emulated slowly or without resistance a few dozen times before speed/resistance drills are employed.
The process of building synapse is a real technique, applicable to all physical skills, rote drill has a place in the development of this synapse. Not mindless, but rote, there is a significant difference. Having primarily to do with the critical standard to which the performance is held.
As you undoubtedly surmise, I tend to be a sort of technician, in that I believe that power flows from technique. Correct technique will make more effective the technique over application of brute strength.
Simple and direct are good, training dynamicly as soon as technique is approximately correct is good.
It is my inclination to risk offending you here though, gently I hope. Kata, properly executed are good drills. The primary kata problem is instructors who do not understand the kata themselves. The execution that wins at tournaments is not always the correct technique.
In a dynamic kata the student rehearses a number of movements, full power, with absolutely correct technique. This may not be the most efficient use of his time, but it is a methodology of drilling the techniques. Of most use in training move, block, strike/kick.
Earlier I said that I did not think style mattered as much as the instructor. Here again I am going to reiterate that in another manner.
An instructor (one who is reasonably adept in a complete art) can execute throws, sweeps, holds, chokes, punches, strikes, parries, blocks, kicks, sweeps, and grappling movements well enough to demonstrate an understanding of the fundamentals that allow each to work.
If the instructor is training a complete traditional art and can not demonstrate the utility of a kata as a training tool, I would be more skeptical of his expertise. Mind you now, this is not the same as branding him a charlaton, for perhaps his instructor did not communicate effectively the utility of kata.
I have always preferred to fight (spar) to prove (to oneself primarily) full grasp of various technique. In the military and LEO community we are of a like mind in accepting that such hard "free play" (i.e. Red Man) is necessary to the true development of the student.
In simpler terms Bruce Lee said you can not really learn to swim on dry land. I really concur that you can not learn to fight or control a confrontation without getting "wet".
This is not to say that a person does not need to rehearse the new stroke in some dry land training. Kata may fall into that type of training. (One might liken kata to compulsory exercises in gymnastic or figure skating. What is done in compulsories is the development of true amplitude in execution)!
It is not my position that kata are always necessary for everyone, but rather that properly taught and executed that they might facilitate training for some at some levels of development.
I am not a traditionalist, but also do not subscribe to the current trend to throw all tradition out the window.
In the final analysis, that question is how do we help the student to progress as rapidly as he/she can? If kata can facilitate that for some (and you won't know if you exclude it from the ciriculum pro forma) then we should employ it.
It would be interesting to see some real research into the training/development process, with academic disciplines rigorously applied.
just a few thoughts from and old soldier
yours in markmanship