My justifications for this simplicity in training, and assessment, are as follows
Kihon-Keiko (Fundamental Training/Practice): In fundamental training, practice of kihon must be simple and deep, grooving exact form and the correct physiological principles into your subconscious mind. I believe that Shotokan’s biggest asset, in regards to kihon, is its depth. The essence of our fundamentals can be found in the development of reliable body mechanics, which are universal for hand-to-hand combat. This is achieved through the dissection, of a limited number of ‘core techniques’, and perfection of each element. Never forget that mae geri contains hiza geri, chudan soto uke 'has the body action of jodan shuto sotomawashi uchi', and so forth. The limited number of standard techniques, originally established by the JKA, allows us to more rapidly understand the complete arsenal of 'standard Shotokan' (remember this is THE FOUNDATION FOR EVERYTHING ELSE), and from here we can become specialists. When practising, always keep in mind the importance of 'muscle memory'.
It is literally a case of quality as opposed to quantity, and without real quality, your techniques will have less chance of being reliable, in a sudden altercation. Some people may see this karate training as rather mundane, but as I have said before, it can be compared to doing sets and reps at the gym. You must concentrate on perfect form throughout your motions, and train regularly. Even with simple motor skills (say a body building excericse, such as a tricep extension) you must concentrate on all aspects of your technique, and seek to systematically improve your strength (lift heavier weights whilst maintain exact form). Balance what you 'currently percieve as perfect form', with large repetitions of the most simple actions, and you'll advance rapidly. This is because you will discover deeper layers in your karate, which in turn will greatly increase your skill level. It's in this training, that you will discover the need for enormous self-discipline, as I have discussed in previous articles.
One term I discovered, on my very first trip to Japan, was 'basics inside of basics'. This term was essentially how instructors at the JKA viewed kihon-keiko. Each technique can be broken down into many sections, like a slideshow, with each part of your body coordinating harmoniously with each frame. Looking at each individual technique in this manner, makes it very clear, that 'long winded' kihon combinations, are completely counter-productive for ones karate growth. Instructors must question ''why'' they are doing certain things in their own training regime, and what they are looking for, when testing their students.
If you prefer to practice ‘fancy stuff’, my opinion is that Shotokan is not for you. There are plenty of flamboyant styles out there, but I seriously question their legitimacy as martial arts. Just remember: ''Someone who can blow you away with a basic oi zuki, gyaku zuki, mae geri or any other 'foundational technique', is a great karateka!''
Bottom line, what do long-winded kihon combinations achieve? Why not just practice kata or sections of the kata, as more elaborate combinations? Will you ever use these techniques combatively, or are they only trained for your next respective examination? And are they teaching any special body mechanics not found elsewhere, or intimately connected to an integral skill? In reality most instructors who advocate such 'cheesy combinations' in training, and in tests, simply lack any depth of knowledge. Clearly the motivation of adding 'another move' to the sequence, for that brightly coloured belt, is either technical imaturity, or an attempt to make training 'more interesting'. Yes, that is the McDojo alarm, ringing in your ears.