Gun Kata are part of a fictional firearm based martial art invented by Kurt Wimmer and developed by fight choreographer Jim Vickers for the 2002 film “Equilibrium” and the 2006 film “Ultraviolet”. It involves the rapid use of firearms (generally handguns) against opponents with emphasis on memorized probabilities, resulting in an athletic and visually engaging form of combat.
Gun Kata is a fictional Gun fu martial art discipline that is a significant part of the film. It is based upon the premise that, given the positions of the participants in a gun battle, the trajectories of fire are statistically predictable. By pure memorization of the positions, one can fire at the most likely location of an enemy without aiming at him/her in the traditional sense of pointing a gun at a specific target. By the same token, the trajectories of incoming fire are also statistically predictable, so by assuming the appropriate stance, one can keep one’s body clear of the most likely path of enemy bullets.
The Gun Kata shown in “Equilibrium” is a hybrid mix of Kurt Wimmer’s own style of Gun Kata (which he invented in his backyard) and the martial arts style of the choreographer. They disagreed on the appropriate form of Gun Kata, with Kurt Wimmer advocating a more smooth, flowing style and the choreographer supporting a more rigid style. Much of the Gun Kata seen in the movie is based on the choreographer’s style (movements are rigid and rapid). Kurt Wimmer’s Gun Kata is dispersed sparsely throughout the movie, most notably in the intro scene with the silhouetted man (played by Wimmer himself) practicing with dual pistols. Wimmer’s intended form of Gun Kata can be better seen in “Ultraviolet”.
Vice Counsel DuPont (Angus Macfadyen) in “Equilibrium” describes the concept thus: “Through analysis of thousands of recorded gunfights, the Cleric has determined that the geometric distribution of antagonists in any gun battle is a statistically predictable element. The Gun Kata treats the gun as a total weapon, each fluid position representing a maximum kill zone, inflicting maximum damage on the maximum number of opponents, while keeping the defender clear of the statistically-traditional trajectories of return fire. By the rote mastery of this art, your firing efficiency will rise by no less than 120%. The difference of a 63% increased lethal proficiency makes the master of the Gun Katas an adversary not to be taken lightly.”
Gun Kata is based upon the premise that the positions and actions of antagonists can be mathematically predicted to a high degree of accuracy are generally the same in any given combat situation. Using a combination of math and martial arts the form was founded to create a deadly fire-arm combat style. The different movements and positions learnt through Gun Kata are designed to give the student the cover fire while keeping the defendent clear of the statistically predictable trajectories of return fire in any of these situations. By pure memorization of the positions one can fire at the most likely location of an enemy without aiming at them in the traditional sense of pointing a gun at a specific target. By assuming the appropriate stance one can keep one’s body clear of the most likely path of enemy bullets.
Gun Kata, as a martial art, places emphasis on two tenets: shooting the enemy as efficiently as possible, and avoiding return fire. Hitting targets is a matter of knowing where enemy fighters are likely to be located in relation to the user, which removes the problem of aiming (especially at close ranges) and allows the user to defeat foes with pre-emptive fire before they can present a true threat. Avoiding return fire is also a matter of statistical probability, as Gun Kata users do not rely on bullet time style evasions, but rather on avoiding the enemy’s most likely lines of fire. In short, Gun Kata is the art of shooting where the enemy is most likely to be, while not being where the enemy is most likely to shoot. It is effective enough that the protagonist of “Equilibrium”, Grammaton Cleric First Class John Preston (Christian Bale) is able to defeat more than 30 soldiers in under 60 seconds. This was an exceptional feat even by the standards of Gun Kata, since Preston himself expressed some doubt as to whether he could manage it, and as a Grammaton Cleric First Class, Preston was a master of Gun Kata.
Another, less commonly seen technique of the Gun Kata involves dueling with a single opponent at a very close range. This often includes melee combat with both opponents trying to point a gun at the other and pull the trigger, while at the same time, preventing the enemy from doing the same thing. This technique is only used if both adversaries are skilled in it. The style is very reminiscent of Wing Chun’s Chi Sau training, where the combatant “feels and dissipates” his opponent, rather than seeing and then reacting. The most striking difference of such duels to the rest of hand-to-hand martial arts is that an enemy shot cannot be blocked or parried as in unarmed combat and fencing and can thus be only avoided by constantly knocking off the enemy’s aim and leaving him or her no time to shoot in your direction. This technique is shown in the last scene of “Equilibrium”, in which the protagonist and antagonist perform a final duel solely using this variation.
Another technique involves using a handgun as a normal melee weapon, hitting the close range opponents without using ammunition. Since the technique is frequently used against multiple enemies equipped with firearms, the basic rules of avoiding their most likely shooting trajectories also apply, as well as hitting each enemy in a way to prevent them from shooting at all.
There are techniques for rapid reloading: gun fu style reloading of 2 pistols simultaneously using spare magazines that drop from sleeve holsters, and throwing special magazines (weighted to stand upright) to an anticipated location for immediate use when the combatant reaches the location.
In “Ultraviolet” the protagonist Violet Song Jat Shariff (Milla Jovovich) is a master of Gun Kata and uses it to battle Vice Cardinal Ferdinand Daxus (Nick Chinlund) who is also skilled in the martial art. Like the character John Preston, Violet is capable of dispatching more than 30 enemies in under 60 seconds due to being such a deadly combatant.
In “UltraViolet”, a further, more aggressive development of this technique is seen displayed by Violet Song jat Shariff (portrayed by Milla Jovovich). When unarmed and surrounded by multiple firearm wielding opponents, Violet’s movements allow her to avoid the shots fired at her and simultaneously make the enemies shoot each other instead. This could be compared to another famous fictional martial art, lightsaber combat from “Star Wars“, where the Form III only concentrates on deflecting the incoming blaster bolts with the lightsaber, whereas the Form V allows one to send them back in the direction of the enemy.
The art of which the Gun kata are a part is a cinematic martial art constructed to create visually appealing gunfights and not to reflect reality. Gun battles in the real world revolve around cover, concealment, and lines of fire, which are dictated by terrain and thus inherently unpredictable, as opposed to statistically predictable positions and lines of fire that can be exploited by rote memorization, as depicted in “Equilibrium.”
Kata, known in some martial arts as “forms”, are pre-determined routines of attacks, blocks and movements that simulate a many-on-one engagement; kata are more of a ritualized dance, as opposed to the open improvisation of “kumite” (sparring). As such, the use of the word “kata” is somewhat imprecise in the description of a martial art, though it is certainly applicable to the choreographed fight routines actors and stuntmen must learn and maybe connected to the fact that Gun Kata is a patterned fighting style focusing on discovering a pattern and counteracting it with another. These are paralleled in “bunkai”, in which a central martial artist performs the kata, while training partners take the role of the attackers.
Gun Kata is a type of “fake fu”, since some moves closely resemble kung fu and also Japanese kata based martial arts. The combat in “Equilibrium” in general has been compared to “The Matrix”. Wimmer had supposedly intended a softer, more fluid wushu style for “Equilibrium”, but was overruled by fight choreographer Vickers, whose experience lay primarily in the harder, more rigid karate style, and by the limited budget. Wimmer realized his vision of a fluid Gun Kata in “Ultraviolet”.
The Gun Kata shown in Equilibrium is a hybrid mix of Kurt Wimmer’s own style of Gun Kata (which he invented in his backyard) and the martial arts style of the choreographer. They disagreed on the appropriate form of Gun Kata. Kurt Wimmer advocating a more fluidic, flowing style and the choreographer supporting a more rigid style. Much of the Gun Kata seen in the movie is based on the choreographer’s style (movements are rigid and rapid). Kurt Wimmer’s Gun Kata is dispersed sparsely throughout the movie, most notably the introductory scene with the silohuetted man (played by Wimmer himself) practicing with the dual pistols. Wimmer’s intended form of Gun Kata can be better seen in “Ultraviolet”.
Inspired by Gun KataEdit
A number of enthusiasts inspired by Kurt Wimmer’s portrayal of Gun Kata have attempted to develop practical versions of the style, generally in a stage combat, performance kata or combat sport format rather than as a realistic fighting technique. The Gun Sau style, the name being a portmanteau of the English “gun” and the Cantonese “sau”, meaning “hand”; employs infrared “laser” pistols and headband mounted sensors. As a game, Gun Sau mimics the action featured in the final fight sequence of the Equilibrium movie, with players attempting to out-maneuver each other at close range and to score “headshots” which are achieved by firing the infrared beam directly at their opponent’s headband sensor. The sensors keep score electronically and the winner is the first player to reach a certain number of points.
One martial art, though, has formed a realistic fighting technique called Juu Kun Do (Way of the Gun). The name is a play on words to Bruce Lee’s fighting style, Jeet Kune Do. It was officially founded in 2001 by former International Fight League fighter M.A. Sotelo, based on 6 years of experience with other martial arts and Filipino styles, principally: Arnis Bumaril, Modern Arnis, Rapid arnis, Arnis Balite, Kata, and Jeet Kune Do, but stated that most of it was inspired by Kurt Wimmer’s movie. He has written a book about this titled “The Tao of Juu Kun Do”. CloQuBa Ha-Jutsu (founded by Chuck Habermehl) is the only martial art that ever came close to Gun Kata.