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Peter Boylan
12-05-2013, 03:29 PM
I've seen all sorts of discussions about kata, but they rarely display a good grasp of kata training. About all most people ever get right about kata is that they are pre-arranged training sequences. It just so happens that this describes the vast majority of Aikido training as well. In order to bring the discussion of kata up a notch or two, I wrote this.

http://budobum.blogspot.com/2013/12/what-kata-isnt.html

Cliff Judge
12-05-2013, 04:03 PM
I think this is your best blog, yet!

Janet Rosen
12-06-2013, 12:22 AM
Excellent!

Alec Corper
12-06-2013, 03:27 AM
Perhaps it would be more accurate, if we use traditional terminology, to distinguish between solo kata and partner kata which is more correctly prearranged kumite. I have posted previously that the three traditional components of Budo are kihon (basic movements/underlying principles embedded in the movements), kata (prearranged forms linking these movements together in transitional ways, essential for combat which occurs within transitions), and kumite (partner work ranging from structured to freestyle).
The difficulty for aikido is that people begin all three almost simultaneously. In Tai Chi, for example, solo work is often done for years whilst slowly learning the mnemonic forms which allow the practise of correct body linkage. Later push hands is introduced which differs from uke/tori relationship since the roles are continuously shifting. Still later some may wish to test their skills further in a more freestyle kumite (for example sanda).
All waza are kihon, kata, and kumite rolled into one. Three problems multiplied by two, driven exponentially by the variances of training models and goals existing in each persons mind.
Whew, its a wonder that people learn at all.I have been teaching for quite some years and do not feel in any way satisfied that I have solved this problem. then again many Japanese instructors solve it very easily by simply ignoring it.

Cliff Judge
12-06-2013, 06:43 AM
Perhaps it would be more accurate, if we use traditional terminology, to distinguish between solo kata and partner kata which is more correctly prearranged kumite. I have posted previously that the three traditional components of Budo are kihon (basic movements/underlying principles embedded in the movements), kata (prearranged forms linking these movements together in transitional ways, essential for combat which occurs within transitions), and kumite (partner work ranging from structured to freestyle).
The difficulty for aikido is that people begin all three almost simultaneously. In Tai Chi, for example, solo work is often done for years whilst slowly learning the mnemonic forms which allow the practise of correct body linkage. Later push hands is introduced which differs from uke/tori relationship since the roles are continuously shifting. Still later some may wish to test their skills further in a more freestyle kumite (for example sanda).
All waza are kihon, kata, and kumite rolled into one. Three problems multiplied by two, driven exponentially by the variances of training models and goals existing in each persons mind.
Whew, its a wonder that people learn at all.I have been teaching for quite some years and do not feel in any way satisfied that I have solved this problem. then again many Japanese instructors solve it very easily by simply ignoring it.

What tradition are you referring to here that has this model? Peter is coming at it from a traditional Japanese model. Koryu training is almost all paired kata training, with the exception of iai, suburi, and some solo drills in a few of the jujutsu systems. Kumite is a karatedo practice so it comes out of the modern era.

Kata contain waza, there is never a variance of training methods in koryu, and your instructor and seniors enforce proper form so you leave your mind out of it for the most part. You are right, it is a wonder Tai Chi students learn anything at all!

Alec Corper
12-06-2013, 07:46 AM
You are correct Peter. I am not referring to koryu only. Peter included judo in his article and I responded to both and was not using the word traditional in the koryu sense. my apologies if I caused confusion.
Also I was not referring to Tai Chi when I spoke about learning difficulties ;-)

jimbaker
12-06-2013, 08:58 AM
Although these are solo Iaido forms, I like how they illustrate the way senior practitioners can interpret a rigid form to reflect their individual understanding of the movement. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLUzztpsjYU
In this kata sequence of Shinto Muso Ryu Jodo, Matsamura Sensei (in white) is the senior, and therefore the uke, but he is clearly in charge of the rhythm and intensity of the movements. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv8icGROwJE
In the second set, Matsamura Sensei switches roles but, being Matsamura, is still in charge. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iboeusba7BE

Cliff Judge
12-06-2013, 10:57 AM
You are correct Peter. I am not referring to koryu only. Peter included judo in his article and I responded to both and was not using the word traditional in the koryu sense. my apologies if I caused confusion.
Also I was not referring to Tai Chi when I spoke about learning difficulties ;-)

Ah, okay. You used the term traditional to mean the newer traditions than those of koryu bujutsu which threw me off a little. I am also not sure I am on the same page as you with the definitions of some other words, such as kihon, waza,, and maybe we're not agreed on kumite and kata as well.

I think:

waza are techniques, in particular applications;
kihon are the basic "things" of a system, including posture, mindset, and essential movement
kumite is a rules-bound free sparring match
kata are prearranged, generally paired, sequences of techniques

So it sounds to me like you are saying that the techniques contain elements of basics, sparring, and prearranged sequences of techniques. (And remember that techniques contain elements of basics, sparring, and prearranged sequences of techniques. (And..))

This is a problem because it means that there are three things that every technique contains, and if you add to that the fact that there are different training methodologies, and each student has a different thing going on in their head, it is a wonder anybody learns anything.

First of all, you can easily get rid of the last two problems. Stick to one training methodology, and pick one that limits the student's choices during training, one that does not require or allow them to engage in analytical thinking during training. This is how koryu work. Aikido may have a problem with this, there are certainly many Aikidoka who have problems with this on an individual level, myself included.

And in my opinion, kata include kihon and waza. I don't know about this kumite thing at all though. I know of two koryu schools that do something that could be described as kumite, but that is not kata training. I understand that practice can get freer at higher levels in other koryu, but that's also outside of kata.

I can see kihon in waza, I don't see kata in waza, and I don't understand your thinking that sparring is in waza.

Alec Corper
12-07-2013, 03:30 AM
Hello Cliff,
I don't see waza as techniques. In fact I think that is one of the failings of modern aikido. I teach waza as a vehicle for studying external and internal skills related to preparing the body for a martial encounter. In addition to this I would offer the following link as an example of my view of kumite http://www.airdriekarate.com/kumite.html
The first three levels are basic aikido practice up to kaeshi waza. Complete free sparring has never been shown to work, in my opinion, since point scoring ruins power generation and delivery, and full contact without body armour (also has built in failings!) ruins partners;-)
Aikido was developed for martial artists. Certainly almost all first generation were already high graded, so O Sensei taught without much regard to the building blocks. Systemization occurred with his son and Kano's "ideal judo" commenced as kata training. So I guess i pretty much agree with Peter's statement that aikido is kata training, but that is an outer form only, and when overused and not properly understood, limiting rather than liberating.
Of course everything I write is opinion, like everything else here, not really worth expressing let alone defending
respect, Alec

Cliff Judge
12-07-2013, 03:02 PM
Hello Cliff,
I don't see waza as techniques. In fact I think that is one of the failings of modern aikido. I teach waza as a vehicle for studying external and internal skills related to preparing the body for a martial encounter. In addition to this I would offer the following link as an example of my view of kumite http://www.airdriekarate.com/kumite.html
The first three levels are basic aikido practice up to kaeshi waza. Complete free sparring has never been shown to work, in my opinion, since point scoring ruins power generation and delivery, and full contact without body armour (also has built in failings!) ruins partners;-)
Aikido was developed for martial artists. Certainly almost all first generation were already high graded, so O Sensei taught without much regard to the building blocks. Systemization occurred with his son and Kano's "ideal judo" commenced as kata training. So I guess i pretty much agree with Peter's statement that aikido is kata training, but that is an outer form only, and when overused and not properly understood, limiting rather than liberating.
Of course everything I write is opinion, like everything else here, not really worth expressing let alone defending
respect, Alec

I almost understand what you are saying about waza, but what I think you are using the word to refer to is something I would refer to as kata. What is the difference between using waza to instill skills, and doing a kata? I think this thing you are describing of using waza to study skills to prepare for a real situation is what Peter is talking about with Aikido actually being kata based.

Osensei was teaching Daito ryu to the first (and possibly later) generation, and whether or not Daito ryu is an actual koryu or not, it is trained similarly to other koryu jujutsu schools, and is (and was) entirely kata based. Aikido, particularly Aikikai and related styles, has lost the formality in favor of dynamism basically. I don't know whether it was Osensei or Kisshomaru who is more responsible for that. I think there are good and bad aspects to the transformation.

Rupert Atkinson
12-07-2013, 08:33 PM
Didn't like the way they did kime-no-kata. But I agree with the main premise. To me, a kata is a library of ideas.

Gavin Slater
12-07-2013, 08:41 PM
Hi,

I think it is hard to say what Daito Ryu is (or was) with any certainty as everyone has their own Daito Ryu. But heres my 2 yens worth + a grain of salt;
- IMO the Daito Ryu that Ueshiba Sensei learnt and taught was not kata based, but waza based.
- If it were kata based I think you would see more conformity now. Eg. If you studied Kito Ryu and someone said show me Mizu Garuma from the jin no maki, everyone would most likely demonstrate the same thing. I dont think you could easily do that with Daito Ryu.
- In the soden, there are virtually no names of the waza (although other things have names... maybe)
- The flow of the soden can be quite playful. Eg. You do this, then if he does this, then you do this kind of thing. I dont think that is kata based.
- I also think what was transmitted had nothing to do with the waza.

Gavin

Rupert Atkinson
12-07-2013, 11:55 PM
Hi,
- If it were kata based I think you would see more conformity now. Eg. If you studied Kito Ryu and someone said show me Mizu Garuma from the jin no maki, everyone would most likely demonstrate the same thing.
Gavin

What I have found amazing over the years is, what with all the different Aikikai groups, when I meet people on seminars - people from America, the UK, Australia or wherever, when you look at those who have been doing it a few years, they are, for the most part, doing everything the same way. Now that is amazing considering we are not intending to do that. It makes me think there is a natural way to do Aikido and that in time we slowly converge.

Cliff Judge
12-08-2013, 04:03 PM
Hi,

I think it is hard to say what Daito Ryu is (or was) with any certainty as everyone has their own Daito Ryu. But heres my 2 yens worth + a grain of salt;
- IMO the Daito Ryu that Ueshiba Sensei learnt and taught was not kata based, but waza based.
- If it were kata based I think you would see more conformity now. Eg. If you studied Kito Ryu and someone said show me Mizu Garuma from the jin no maki, everyone would most likely demonstrate the same thing. I dont think you could easily do that with Daito Ryu.
- In the soden, there are virtually no names of the waza (although other things have names... maybe)
- The flow of the soden can be quite playful. Eg. You do this, then if he does this, then you do this kind of thing. I dont think that is kata based.
- I also think what was transmitted had nothing to do with the waza.

Gavin

It is actually very straightforward to say what Daito ryu is and has been. There are only a couple of branches of Daito ryu. They each have a distinct view of the world, different traditions, and there is variance in how they organize and work with the kata. But they are all kata based. The Roppokai has put out videos, Kondo Sensei has put out many videos and published books.

The Daito ryu that Ueshiba learned was totally kata based. Ueshiba was taught kata. It makes sense that Ueshiba did much of his early teaching via kata.

Maybe when Ueshiba started wanting to break away from Takeda, he started getting more free-form with the kata, and began to teach at a distance from his students more, as we still do in Aikido. When Takeda came down to the Asashi Shimbun he was like "what the heck are you guys doing? I'll take over here." I can't find my copy of Conversations with the Daito ryu Masters but I think in the interview with Hisa's student, that gentleman reports Tokimune Takeda as saying something along the lines of "Why don't we get these guys back to just learning the kata?"

I think the "teaching via waza" pedagogy was started by Ueshiba, and it was the way he broke the mold. I think you are right about what was transmitted had nothing to do with the waza themselves - I would go further than that and say that a lot was NOT successfully transmitted that should have been. I think one of the reasons for that is the shift to waza itself. In kata training, it is somewhat easier to tell the difference between the waza and the principles. You have a set sequence of movements to make and you know from the getgo that you are learning it for other reasons than just to be able to do the techniques. As soon as you get comfortable with the movements you start looking for what else is going on...a good kata makes you continually ask "What is this this thing supposed to be saying to me that I haven't heard yet."

And fyi kata generally come in different versions, for example omote and ura versions, and they are certainly sequences of moves, so what you are saying about the Soden totally sounds like kata training to me.

Ellis Amdur
12-08-2013, 09:20 PM
Cliff - I'm not sure that is strictly true. The Budokan video of the Takumaka (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrQtdoUvSTQ)i refers to the Soden techniques as waza rather than kata.
Like most Japanese words, kata and waza are rather loosely defined, bu it is fair to say that a waza tends to be "one thing," whereas a kata as a number of alternatives implicit at every stage of its execution.

Daito-ryu is an example, I believe, of something "on the cusp" - a single sequence that goes from a-b-c. Strictly speaking ALL techniques (waza) that start, for example, from katate-dori are ONE KATA.

Ellis Amdur

Gavin Slater
12-09-2013, 07:18 AM
Hi,

I have most likely seen some of the videos you refer to, but I feel I would be making very broad assumptions if I were to say what they were with any certainty. They may be kata based, I donít really know as I have never studied them, just watched them on a video.

I think it is an interesting discussion on what the difference is between kata and waza is. But my research on the soden points to it being waza based. I donít think the word kata was ever used, and my impression on how things were taught was more like this;

Lets learn how to attack the neck.
Grab me however you like
OK if he does this, do this and attack the neck
Make sure he cant gouge your eyes here by doing this and attack the neck
If you really want to be horrible to do this
Oh and here is a funky version of it

I donít think that is kata based, and if you looked at the soden you might see a katate dori attack and you might think Ueshiba Sensei or Takeda Sensei were doing a defence from a shoulder grab, but infact they were just teaching how to attack the neck and thatís what the uke grabbed them with.

I donít think Ueshiba started the teaching by waza because I think Takeda did the same thing, I think Ueshiba Sensei was just doing it the way he was taught. But I do think Ueshiba Sensei had started to make changes to the waza that he was taught by Takeda as I think Hisa Sensei thought there were 2 kinds of Daito Ryu, Ueshiba Ryu and Takeda Ryu.

The first 6 volumes were Ueshiba Senseiís waza, but often Hisa Sensei would say Ueshiba Sensei would do this waza like this, and Takeda Sensei would do this waza like that, and they could be fundamentally different, even though it is from the same soden waza. So I donít think Takeda Sensei came down to the Asahi Dojo and went ďYou guys need to start learning the kata!Ē I think it is more likely he was annoyed with Ueshiba Sensei with some of the fundamental changes he was making to Ďhisí martial art.

Im not sure but I donít think Tokimune Takeda Sensei would have said anything like ďYou guys need to start learning kata!Ē either. He was around 22? Ueshiba Sensei was 52 and Hisa Sensei was 41 I cant imagine a 22 year coming in and telling them what to do as they were both his senior, and both could throw down by all accounts.

BTW How does one know if something is not taught? And how do you know it should have been? If it wasnít taught?

Gavin

Cliff Judge
12-09-2013, 09:30 AM
The waza presented in the Takumakai video seem to be, objectively, kata. There is a specific attack and a specific response, and the response tends to be rather more elaborate than something you would do exactly in an application. This is similar to what you see in other, later jujutsu systems such as the Hontai / Takagi Ypshin ryu traditions, Tenshin Shinyo ryu, and others.

Mainline Daito ryu is now kata-based. Katsuyuki Kondo Sensei has put out two DVDs through Aikido Journal and there are a couple of other DVDs that show an explain some of the Hiden Mokuroku kata. The current organization of the kata are from Tokimune. I think it is far more likely that he did exactly that - rename and re-organize kata that he was taught - than that he created the kata out of waza. Furthermore, the Takumakai has, I have read, aligned their syllabus to that of the mainline. I don't see why they would do this if it marked an abandonment of their techniques.

IMO a kata is essentially "textual" - they literally come from a text, and figuratively, they are a way to formally organize the skills, techniques, and principles of a system. A waza can be that, but generally I think a waza is something you can use on drunks. A kata is to be learned correctly - it is essentially not enough that the techniques contained in the waza succeed, the kata must be performed correctly before you can feel what you are supposed to be learning. Hence the difficulty in Aikido in getting beginning students to not use too much muscle - muscle can often be employed to get the job done, and if you can't get the student to realize that that's not enough, they aren't going to start figuring out how to learn new ways of aligning their structure and using their energy. (Perhaps this is why so many folks are trying to bring IS into their Aikido as well).

Sokaku Takeda was illiterate, yet there are all of these Daito ryu scrolls...perhaps Daito ryu and Aikido come out of a set of previous sources as presented by Takeda's theatric, travelling road show method of teaching through seminars. Perhaps, when a paranoid genius with severe ADHD and wanderlust attempts to teach a kata-based curriculum, what you get is a tradition of waza-based training.

The passage I was thinking about with regard to Tokimune suggesting that training at the Asahi Shimbun dojo was more along the lines of Tokimune saying, "Father, perhaps we should teach the old kata again?" i.e. it sounded to me like it would have been appropriate for the young Tokimune to make such a suggestion.

Now that COULD have been something inserted into the story later, to give some legitimacy to Tokimune's Daito ryu structure, but suffice to say I've been down that rabbit hole in other forums and it seems that the Kodokai and probably Sagawa groups have the same syllabus, but the kata are organized along different lines and some of them have been combined.

I might as well out myself at this point - I've been training Daito ryu under Kondo Sensei for about two years, with Chris Covington and Brian Wagner. Let me put it this way - if Tokimune Takeda invented the kata-based system of Daito ryu, you people should be forgetting this Ueshiba guy entirely, he may have had some skills when he was alive but he took it with him and when it comes to creating a martial tradition, he was a hack. The kata of Daito ryu are brilliant things. But they really speak more of generations of careful transmission, study, and very gradual, thoughtful improvement, than invention by a single man.

Kind of rambling here, I guess - but I did a little bit of Hontai Yoshin ryu with Steve Fabian. That's essentially a koryu system that was thoroughly reorganized by a 20th century menkyo kaiden, Saburi Minaki. There are three sets of kata taught at the beginning levels that were apparently created whole cloth by Minaki. These are really much more like waza. There are ten kata in each set, and each set is a sequence of particular attacks. Each kata involves a rather simple and direct technique that is performed on uke. It is quite difficult to see what the underlying principles of the ryu are based on these kata. They are definitely in there somewhere but the feeling of the kata is much more "okay so now you've got him choked out and you didn't leave yourself open to reversal the whole way through. Brilliant. Now the next one..."

Daito ryu is not like that at all - you really can't see the kata as techniques in and of themselves. But I must digress at this point. I can't pin it down but it all points to Daito ryu being a kata-based system with Sokaku Takeda being this sort of singularity that Daito ryu both comes from and goes back to somehow.

Peter Boylan
12-10-2013, 12:11 PM
Perhaps it would be more accurate, if we use traditional terminology, to distinguish between solo kata and partner kata which is more correctly prearranged kumite. I have posted previously that the three traditional components of Budo are kihon (basic movements/underlying principles embedded in the movements), kata (prearranged forms linking these movements together in transitional ways, essential for combat which occurs within transitions), and kumite (partner work ranging from structured to freestyle).

I would have to strongly disagree with this. Kumite is a term that comes out of the Okinawan Te tradition. Traditionally in Japan, all kata were and continue to be paired practice (with the exception of live blade iai, for obvious safety reasons).

Cliff Judge
12-10-2013, 12:58 PM
I would have to strongly disagree with this. Kumite is a term that comes out of the Okinawan Te tradition. Traditionally in Japan, all kata were and continue to be paired practice (with the exception of live blade iai, for obvious safety reasons).

There are some koryu that incorporate non-kata training. Just off the top of my head:

Maniwa Nen ryu does rules-bound sparring after the beginner level
Owari Kan ryu does rules-bound sparring before the beginner level

(but I have heard that the Owari Kan ryu practice (of the Shumpukan) is a post-Meiji addition. Maniwa Nen ryu might not have been using such practice methods until the Edo period.)

So that's actually kumite as Alec is referring to it. As far as solo:

Yagyu Shingan ryu teaches solo drills.
Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage ryu do lots of suburi.

I wonder if these are recent additions as well? I also wonder how far back the practice of solo iai kata goes...a guess a good starting place is Katori - did they always have solo iaijutsu or was it once paired?

Alec Corper
12-10-2013, 02:11 PM
I have to admit to laziness and sloppiness. I am less interested in historical research than principles, but I must extend my respect to people such as Peter and Cliff that demonstrate a scholarly accuracy with regards to details and sources. The thrust of my initial statements remain: Aikido is an art that attempts the virtually impossible teaching kihon, kata and kumite via waza. i will shut up now and leave it alone.
Alec:sorry:

Cliff Judge
12-10-2013, 02:53 PM
I have to admit to laziness and sloppiness. I am less interested in historical research than principles, but I must extend my respect to people such as Peter and Cliff that demonstrate a scholarly accuracy with regards to details and sources. The thrust of my initial statements remain: Aikido is an art that attempts the virtually impossible teaching kihon, kata and kumite via waza. i will shut up now and leave it alone.
Alec:sorry:

Hey no need to bring Peter down to my level! :D

I agree with you that Aikido teaches via waza. And I agree that it tries to teach kihon and some other things via waza, but I don't think your idea of kata and kumite are in there - i.e. Aikido is not trying to use waza to teach paired forms, and it is not using waza to teach free technique. Well maybe it does. So definitely kihon, possibly kumite, but not kata.

I think the problem with Aikido is that we are either making sure our waza has the desired effect, or we are looking for the right "feel." But it's never both, and we're never really satisfied with either, and we look for the one in the place of the other, and etc. We figure out how to make things work, then we realize we're using our bodies entirely wrong so we go looking for some solution to that problem...or we learn how to use our bodies correctly and in an integrated fashion and then we realize our technique is lacking so we go off and look for a solution to that.

Janet Rosen
12-10-2013, 06:45 PM
I think of much of basic aikido training as kata=based in that various styles each have their own ideal form for the attack, for the application of the technique, for uke's response to the technique. You can do each side of it solo once you know it.
This is at basic level, not jiyuwaza or randori.

Gavin Slater
12-10-2013, 09:31 PM
Hi,

I guess its just my opinion maybe we are talking about the same thing. Im not a Japanese language expert, and I only have basic Japanese. But I think people generally teach what they were taught with their own experience added in. What you may be calling kata, and me calling waza might be the same thing.

But from my experience the soden were never referred to as kata. My original post was in reference to the Daito Ryu that Ueshiba sensei learnt/taught around the time of the Asahi Dojo. We have a record of those waza via the soden (+ other things like Noma Dojo etc).

Although it is fun to postulate what Takeda Sensei was like, in the end it is just speculation based on the opinion of an opinion. I didnt really get the ADHD thing, and Ueshiba Sensei being a hack. I heard that Takeda Sensei was a good sushi chef, liked long walks on the beach and his favourite colour is blue.

I do think it is hard to say what Daito Ryu is and isn't. What I think it is and isn't changes everyday. Maybe thats why people dont comment on it.

Regards,

Gav

Cliff Judge
12-10-2013, 09:39 PM
Gavin,

I think I see what you are saying about your experience of Daito ryu. Yeah, kata and waza are kind of loose terms.

One thing though, do you think the waza training at the Asahi dojo in the late 30s was the same general thing as training that s conducted in mainstream Aikido dojos around the world today?

Gavin Slater
12-11-2013, 04:51 AM
Hi,

It is hard to say for sure, I have never done Aikido so this is just a guess;

- Ueshiba Sensei taught at the Asahi dojo, I think he had 'started' to change a little bit I think by the time he got to the Asahi. I base this on the Asahi video, and the fact I was told that as well. Hisa Sensei also taught at the aikido hombu dojo as well.
- Takeda Sensei taught there (I think they even taught there concurrently for a very short time. Ueshiba Sensei in the morning, and Takeda Sensei in the evening) and Hisa Sensei said there were two types of Daito Ryu. So maybe he considered Ueshiba Sensei's waza to still be Daito Ryu even though he changed it.
- If you are talking about Takeda Sensei's waza then no I dont think it is the same.
- If you are talking about Ueshiba Sensei's waza then its possible. I think what you would have to ask is; is the Aikido the same as what Ueshiba Sensei did, then ask is the Aikido his son then grandson did the same as what he did. I have no idea on that.

Gav

Cliff Judge
12-11-2013, 08:44 AM
Gavin,

The story goes, that Ueshiba left town quick when Takeda arrived in Osaka. So I don't know about them both teaching at the same time.

Are you with the Takumakai? I had heard that they organized their syllabus to line up with Tokimune Takeda's in the late 20th century.

Gavin Slater
12-11-2013, 11:33 PM
Hi Cliff,

We may never know for sure what the story is. Most of the time when I asked someone, they just say Ueshiba Sensei left 'unexpectedly in the morning'. I was never told he left imediately just unexpectedly.

I got told Hisa Sensei told Ueshiba Sensei that this old guy is here saying he is your teacher, then he dissapeared into his room and never came out.Ueshiba Sensei had his training in the mornings, and Takeda taught in the evenings. This happened for a week or so, then one morning Ueshiba Sensei was not there. The Asahi workers turned up for training, but he had left unexpectedly without telling anyone.

I was a student of Amatsu Sensei.I have also trained with some other Kyoju Dairi from Hisa Sensei,

Gav

Cliff Judge
12-12-2013, 10:03 AM
At risk of drifting the thread into another sub-forum, I would like to try to see if we can explore the differences between my experiences of Aikido and Daito ryu training and yours to see if we can get some clarity on this question of kata vs waza as training methodology.

In mainline Daito ryu, there should really be no question that training is based on kata. There is a bit of divergence from the koryu model as understood around here in that you don't keep the students segregated with seniors playing the role of uchite and junior playing the role of shite. But they are kata nontheless - they are organized into series, and were given names (apparently the modern names were given by Tokimune). There are some very practical and usable techniques contained in the kata but the kata themselves are not meant to teach "here is what you should do when you are attacked in this manner." The kata are vehicles for studying techniques, but also deeper principles such as timing, distance, how to break balance on contact, how to maintain control, etc. A trained student who was mugged would not manifest a kata.

When we train Daito ryu we work on these kata and seek the sense that we are doing them correctly. The early-level ones, of the ikkajo series, are brilliant for giving you feedback that you did or did not perform them correctly, even if you achieved the result you wanted. (Kondo Sensei's videos produced with Stan Pranin demonstrate and explain these if anybody is curious.) Clap in, warm up, try to perfect kata, clap out.

In Aikido - I am not sure I properly represent "mainstream Aikido" as I am ASU but I believe we actually follow a model that comes from the Aikikai Hombu dojo after WWII and before Ueshiba's passing. The instructor gets onto the mat and everyone claps in. The instructor spends the class attempting to get the students to improve their expression of some principle. Usually they have something in mind that they talk about or work on and by the middle of the class they see what the class is doing well or not, and have begun to adjust how they are approaching the principle. The vehicle for exploring the principles du jour is waza. And the waza will be performed slightly differently every time, because they are being used as frames to talk about something broader in scope.

What is actually happening is a kata is being created on the fly, demonstrated a few times to the students, and then everyone works on it for awhile before the next one. An example might be that, say, the teacher starts the class thinking, what about getting off the line? So we'll start with doing kotegaeshi from a punch. Then the instructor sees that people are getting way off the line and not breaking their partner's balance at all, so she will use shihonage to demonstrate taking uke's balance and keeping their posture broken in such a way that they don't get it back. Then maybe the whole class goes in that direction. The instructor spends the hour or two trying to "tune" the class a bit, like a traditional chinese acupuncturist reading pulses and then applying needles or moxha, then checking pulses again to see if anything has changed.

Gavin, do you have any thoughts to share about the general mode of your Takumakai training? I'm thinking it is maybe more like kata training than waza-based traiining as I see them?

hughrbeyer
12-12-2013, 09:43 PM
In Aikido - I am not sure I properly represent "mainstream Aikido" as I am ASU but I believe we actually follow a model that comes from the Aikikai Hombu dojo after WWII and before Ueshiba's passing. The instructor gets onto the mat and everyone claps in. The instructor spends the class attempting to get the students to improve their expression of some principle. Usually they have something in mind that they talk about or work on and by the middle of the class they see what the class is doing well or not, and have begun to adjust how they are approaching the principle. The vehicle for exploring the principles du jour is waza. And the waza will be performed slightly differently every time, because they are being used as frames to talk about something broader in scope.

Huh. That describes very well what we usually do in a totally different part of the ASU (Bill Gleason). I wonder if this originates with Saotome or goes back to Yamaguchi? How do Yamaguchi's other students organize a class?

Gavin Slater
12-12-2013, 11:10 PM
Hi,

I cant speak for the Takumakai, I can only speak for Amatsu Sensei. It might be hard to compare, but I can tell you what it was like to train with Amatsu Sensei. Amatsu Sensei taught the soden, which you will know has 11 books. I dont think you necessarily start at the first book either. Sometimes it was because Amatsu Sensei was working on a particular book himself.

The 1st and 3rd books are grouped, the 2nd and 4th books are grouped. The 5th book is its own group, the 6th is its own group, and 7-9 books are grouped seperately. 10 and 11 are grouped as they are Hisa Sensei's waza, variations of all of the other books.

There were no names of the waza, and I never heard the term kata ever used it was always 'such and such waza' eg ikkajo waza,menkyo waza, ura waza etc. Some of these were in the books, some were not. Then there were also Takeda Sensei's version of some of the first 6 books, there are no photos of these as they decided not to retake photos.

Amatsu Sensei said there is no such thing as secrets in Daito Ryu and you are taught the 'secrets' as the first thing, its just whether you understand them or not.

Although the soden had no names you might hear 'This is an ikkajo waza', or he would say this is the first fundamental item, or second fundamental item, so you had 1-4 kajo etc. You also had the most fundamental item in Daito Ryu is..., which changed at will.

So if I had to sum up training in Daito Ryu with Amatsu Sensei, it would go to training, then go the pub and listen to things you don't understand at the time.

Gav

Cliff Judge
12-13-2013, 09:41 AM
Huh. That describes very well what we usually do in a totally different part of the ASU (Bill Gleason). I wonder if this originates with Saotome or goes back to Yamaguchi? How do Yamaguchi's other students organize a class?

In my opinion this goes back to the post-war Hombu dojo. When Osensei was in town, he'd get on the mat some days and manifest some Takemusu Aiki, and everyone would try to follow along and figure out what he was doing. That seems to be how things are done in the regular classes at Hombu these days too. It also fits in with how Aikido embu are conducted - the Shihan gets up there and manifests some Aikido. When you see a Daito ryu embu, they seem to be demonstrating kata.

Cliff Judge
12-13-2013, 09:55 AM
Thanks Gavin!

Amatsu Sensei said there is no such thing as secrets in Daito Ryu and you are taught the 'secrets' as the first thing, its just whether you understand them or not.


So truth. Such liking. :D


Although the soden had no names you might hear 'This is an ikkajo waza', or he would say this is the first fundamental item, or second fundamental item, so you had 1-4 kajo etc. You also had the most fundamental item in Daito Ryu is..., which changed at will.

So if I had to sum up training in Daito Ryu with Amatsu Sensei, it would go to training, then go the pub and listen to things you don't understand at the time.

Gav

This sounds very close to kata training. I guess the question is, are the waza meant to be used as they are? Or are they meant as vehicles for developing more general skills? If the former, that goes straight to what you mentioned Ellis said about the techniques seeming too elaborate and complex for combat application. I would strongly suspect they are tools for developing general skills which would express themselves spontaneously under duress - i.e. to teach your body and mind a martial language with which you hopefully become fluent.

(And hey, maybe Daito ryu has too many darned kata / waza for that. Maybe somebody decided to cut it down to essentials at some point and things went sideways due to a misunderstanding of how kata should be taught....)

I think it must have been very interesting to be party to a teacher who was teaching while actively researching / studying his own art. And pubs. I am a big fan of those.

Gavin Slater
12-14-2013, 01:15 AM
Hi,

I think the main problem with trying to compare aikido training, with for example daito ryu aikijujutsu is if you are an aikido student you have a sub conscious need for the story to end with Ueshiba Sensei having 'aiki', because you are studying aikido. If the 'story' says that Ueshiba Sensei did not have aiki there is a huge obstacle for the aikido student to overcome. When really it is just a story in Daito Ryu.

Its like we are casting a movie lets call it Daito Ryu at the Asahi. Lets set the scene its at a newspaper, where this bunch of experienced martial artists are trained by this expert master with strange skills in a martial art with no names. The students think this is so wonderful, they are converts. Everyone who felt it thought it was amazing, they told all of their friends, and experienced martial artists came from far and wide. It was the talk of Japan.

Then one day an old man with aiki turned up saying he was the expert masters teacher, what you are doing will get you no where! For these reasons! 1,2,3. I have not taught him enough, you will now learn off me! The experienced sumo and judoka were very sceptical, yet when they saw this old mans strange techniques they were mesmorized. He said it is an old martial art, that was so secret it was never written down. The old man was on another level.

In the movie the student is played by Hisa Sensei, Martial arts instructor one is played by Ueshiba Sensei, the old man with aiki is played by Takeda Sensei. Now when you watch this movie you might want Ueshiba Sensei to play the old man with aiki, or rewrite some parts, but unfortunately you cant because Takeda Sensei is writing this particular movie and its being told as narrative by the student. So in the movie we have facts, dialogue between all 3, teachings 1,2,3, we have sub plots, we have fiction. You are told everything in the movie is very important and you must take notice of everything, but some people still dont take notice, and dont really like the movie as they really want Ueshiba Sensei to have aiki, but they are watching the wrong movie they have to wait for the sequel.

re the waza vs kata. Im not really sure about which is correct, they dont have a name, does a kata have to have a name? one waza can teach unlimited kajo.

Gav

Cliff Judge
12-14-2013, 08:22 AM
Hmmm. Well the story, instead of having anything to do with Ueshiba "having Aiki," could be about whether he was properly teaching the kata of Daito ryu, or whether he had started off in his own direction. I.e. it could have been all about externals and nothing to do with internals! But who is to say?

I wonder about what the actual scene at the Asahi Shimbun was like back then. One of the things I have read is that Hisa invited Ueshiba down because the Asahi Shimbun was under threat of being taken over by radicals who wanted to seize the presses and print their own version of the news. If that is the case, then I can't see the students at Asashi being in the mood for being "wowed" by amazing martial skills. They'd be looking for things they could use in the next days or hours if they were under attack. On the other hand, perhaps they were hoping that when word got out that this famous martial arts instructor was in residence, the radical groups would find the risk to benefit ratio too high to warrant an attack. Either way, I think, Ueshiba would be incentivized to break from the traditional structure of Daito ryu and either teach functional waza, or teach in a more open-ended, showy style. The movie looks like the latter. Obviously this is all just speculation on my part.

Kata do not always have names. In some systems, the names of some kata are so unimportant that you just never use them, instead referring to the series of kata.

Gavin Slater
12-15-2013, 08:06 AM
Hi Cliff,

I think there were right wing protests which affected the Newspaper. So Ueshiba Sensei was hired to teach the security team, plus other workers from the newspaper. I think Ueshiba Sensei started to do his own thing, but alot of it is a variation on the soden. He started to do the throw away waza.

I think that was one of the things Takeda Sensei was annoyed about. The story of Takeda arriving and what he said is important in Hisa Senseis Daito ryu. He lectured about Ueshiba, but he also lectured Hisa Sensei. But sometimes the facts about the dojo dont match the story of those lectures as they are Daito Ryu Teachings. So I look at them more like student/teacher/master lectures.

I was told they did randori but not in the daito ryu lessons.

The newspaper (or press) was very important to Takeda Sensei, he liked Journalists very much. I think it is an important part of Hisa Sensei;s Daito Ryu.

Gav

Ellis Amdur
12-15-2013, 11:15 AM
One interesting piece of the jigsaw puzzle is this: Nakakura Kiyoshi described the incident when Takeda Sokaku appeared at the Kobukan, wristlocking a taxi-driver whom he thought over-charged him. Nakakura ran out, paid the taxi-driver, and Takeda demanded to see Ueshiba. Nakakura told him that he was in Osaka. And Takeda turned around and set off for Osaka.

There had been problems for some time. In Admiral Takeshita's notes, some of which are now public, he described a meeting of the supporters of Ueshiba where they discussed "what to do about the problem of Takeda." (These were all high ranking military and politicians). And of course, there were the money problems, and Ueshiba's dual loyalties (actually triple: to Takeda, to Omoto and to himself and his own vision).

At any rate, based on Nakakura's story, Takeda really didn't know what Ueshiba was up to with the Asahi Shinbun - or conceivably even where he was teaching (Ueshiba was teaching at other locale - and in fact, continued to go to Osaka and taught elsewhere, if I recall correctly) - so he simply dropped in and as he saw his due, took over. Remember, he announced that he had heard his student was teaching and he was inferiorly trained (paraphrase) and he would be taking over. He surely would have done so, no matter how good Ueshiba was or was not. Remember, he didn't do this after watching a class.

Anyway, if Nakakura had been more circumspect about his father-in-law's location, history would likely have been different.

Gavin Slater
12-15-2013, 05:04 PM
Hi Ellis,

Amatsu Sensei never said how Takeda Sensei knew that Daito Ryu was being taught. Just that he found out and went to take over. It was like it was important for him personally to teach Daito Ryu in the newspaper to journalists like a pen/sword thing, plus he got paid well.

But I think the question of whether Daito Ryu is kata or waza is very ironic maybe it is both. But what I learnt from Amatsu Sensei was there is no names, and isnt meant to be written down. But then theres the whole daito ryu story being 900 years old, and never being written down. Then there are things thrown in takeda is illitrate to add to the mix.

Gav

Ellis Amdur
12-15-2013, 07:30 PM
Gav - thanks for your note. What Amatsu sensei says certainly conforms to my "myth" - that what is called kata or waza in DR is more like snapshots that others took of Takeda improvising his human origami.

It may well be that, like S. Pranin's thesis that what we call aikido is the 'creation' of Ueshiba K., Tohei, Saito etc., rather than Morihei, then Daito-ryu, too, as we know it , at least, may be the 'creation' of Tokimune, Hisa, Sagawa, Horikawa, Ueshiba and sundry others.

Best
Ellis Amdur

Gavin Slater
12-16-2013, 12:02 AM
Hi Ellis,

I think the fact you hear the story/myth from day one helps obscure it, as its mixed in with facts and probably misdirections. So you might think it has just been invented, or you dont even take notice, or you approach it like a historian and want to check the facts and compare with the story/myth, and start to dispel things but you might miss a good story.

Gav

Cliff Judge
12-16-2013, 09:25 AM
So what exactly are all of those densho and such that you see in the Takumakai film, and in Mr. Erard's documentary videos? The idea that Daito ryu doesn't have a solid. pre-Sokaku foundation has stopped making sense to me. One of my questions is, why is there all of this documentation involved with the art when the guy who allegedly made it all up was illiterate?

Gary David
12-16-2013, 10:25 AM
So what exactly are all of those densho and such that you see in the Takumakai film, and in Mr. Erard's documentary videos? The idea that Daito ryu doesn't have a solid. pre-Sokaku foundation has stopped making sense to me. One of my questions is, why is there all of this documentation involved with the art when the guy who allegedly made it all up was illiterate?

Cliff
Every seminar I have gone to during my many years at Aikido I have watched folks taking notes....notes... Many of the those I saw taking notes years ago are now teaching with others taking notes of what they are seeing....notes to help them remember. Most of those teaching these days are not writing books and there are really very few books from the past.....so how do others remember....notes. I think most of the documentation is just that.....published memories and notes of what was seen, heard and experienced... Of course each of us see, hear and experience differently.
Gary

Ellis Amdur
12-16-2013, 12:52 PM
Cliff - the bushi were government bureaucrats. They documented by nature and inclination. In general, almost every ryu documented themselves - there were densho, notebooks, and the like. It is so axiomatic that the lack of documentation before a certain date leads to the immediate supposition (very strong supposition) that the schools history does not extend before such documentation. As I've discussed in HIPS, the idea that an "otome" school, an official school of a feudal domain, restricted to bushi, who be more secretive, misunderstands the closed ryu. In fact, they were BETTER documented, because they were official. If you've ever perused a ryu document, you can see that an outsider can derive little of value from it. Here's an example - this is Toda-ryu naginatajutsu (http://todahabukoryu.org/wp/?page_id=266), with allegedly the same roots as Toda-ha Buko-ryu. I had it translated, I've written a commentary, but the truth is that it is utterly useless to me, other than satisfying a little curiosity. I cannot use any of it. So, there would have been little concern that if the documents of the ryu "got out," that one's enemies could thereby destroy one. The rituals of secrecy regarding such documents were more for the purpose of creating a mindset than hiding WID ('weapons of individual destruction').
Were there exceptions? Yes. There were obscure "family ryu," that didn't document. They were, however, usually far from centers of power. Actually, Toda-ha Buko-ryu may fall in this category and its illustrative. Our first generations are renowned individuals, and then the ryu fell in the hands of a family, the Suneya, that fell from being high ranking warriors under the Odawara Hojo (who lost all power at the end of the Sengoku period) to tax collectors in a very small village. Tax collectors were at the very bottom end of the bushi/goshi class. They were a combination of village head, census taker, and note taker of seditious attitudes. Apparently, there was a Suneya family naginata art. And maybe more. No documentation. The first documents are in the 1860's, when Suneya Ryosuke and his wife Satoo, probably initiated Toda-ha Buko-ryu. Ryosuke is referred to a chuko no so - this means "founder of a renaissance," which is a rather odd locution. The nuance is that he's the founder/creator of something new - BUT - it somehow, we don't know how - has roots in something older. Guess what Takeda Sokaku is referred to in most Japanese writings? Chuko no so.
As I've written in HIPS, I think there is good reason to believe that the roots of Daito-ryu are in Shinmyo-ryu jujutsu, which WAS an otome-ryu of the Aizu-han. Takeda's grandfather was allegedly a master of Inegami Shinmyo-ryu, something that is reasonable to assume - as no records of THAT precede him - that this is his reworking of Shinmyo-ryu. It's also possible that Takeda adopted/incorporated waza from Yoshin-ryu - not that he was a secret student, but that he picked up waza from them. Why? A couple reasons: 1 - Yoshin-ryu was ubiquitous. It was the Gracie jiujitsu of the period - it was everywhere. 2 - Takeda was good friends/running buddies with several of the big dogs of Yoshin-ryu (and there is legitimate reason to believe that Yoshida Kotaro was also Yoshin-ryu educated - hence the use of Yanagi in the character of his own "off-shoot" - both Yo and Yanagi referring to willows - and Yoshida accompanying Takeda in his contacts - here is a photograph - with some of the greats of Yoshin-ryu, as well as Takeda and Yoshida (http://www.scottshaw.com/hapkidohistory_files/takeda-group.jpg).
It is my understanding that the current makimono/mokuroku were drawn up by Takeda Tokimune. How much input his father had is an interesting question, sort of like how much input Morihei had regarding the changes in the Aikikai post 1950.
Ellis Amdur

Gavin Slater
12-16-2013, 05:15 PM
Hi,

If I was looking for a densho for Daito Ryu that pre-dates Takeda Sensei, I personally wouldn't look for anything that looked like 118 kajo etc, or the soden, or the gen. I would look for an Aizu story told in a narritive by someone, who lived/worked/ruled somewhere, about being taught something. What the story is could be impossible to work out, you would need to read the whole thing, and you would also need the key. So it could seem like a story that has nothing to with aiki, it could be about anything. A journey somewhere. For example Amatsu Sensei told me a story about Hisa sensei and the asahi newspaper, but it wasn't until later I realised it had nothing to do with Hisa Sensei or the Asahi newspaper.

Gav

Gavin Slater
12-16-2013, 05:46 PM
Hi Cliff,

I personally dont think Takeda Sensei made it up (but i dont have a problem if he did), Hisa Sensei did not think that either. It would have to have been made up by an old person who had aiki, or by at least a few other generations. It would be interesting when certain facts about Daito Ryu appeared to see how old Takeda Sensei was. I dont think a young person could come up with some of the teachings, even the first ones.

I think the whole issue is with Daito Ryu is, you have to really think laterally. I had alot of debates with Amatsu Sensei because I didn't like what he was telling me, but after a while I decided that I would just listen and try and logically work out how it could be true, or how it could be false. Then work out what the lesson would be for either.

For me personally an illitrate, teaching a martial art that is not written down, in a newspaper. Thats a lot of irony.

Gav

Cliff Judge
12-17-2013, 08:43 AM
Man, I always wind up depressed when I go down this rabbit hole. If there is no continuous stream of kata from before Sokaku Takeda to the present, then aiki might as well be a unicorn. There is no Daito "ryu", because there is no flow. There is no way to be a part of what Takeda or Ueshiba were doing, and they essentially took it with them. The best you can do is pick some type of martial or pseudo-martial training and hypnotize yourself into believing it is Aikido or Daito ryu.

Gavin Slater
12-17-2013, 11:55 PM
Hi Cliff,

Thats why I think it is hard to say what it is. It depends who gave it to you, and whether you have the whole story, and if your story even has unicorns. Amatsu Sensei just talked about the Asahi Dojo alot and how there were two types of Daito Ryu; Ueshiba Ryu and Takeda Ryu and what Hisa Sensei was like.

I asked Amatsu Sensei what was the most important item in Daito Ryu. He said it was the first teaching of Takeda Ryu, he told me dont love Daito Ryu! That is the highest teaching of Takeda Ryu and the first. He told me even before I started training with him. He said everyone who wants to learn Takeda Ryu must know this first teaching before they start and you must tell them Takeda sensei warned it.

So if people want to learn Takeda Ryu (or talk/write about it), they should at least know the first teaching and find a Daito Ryu dojo, its not a secret. Be careful what you 'burn in', you might have it for a long time. But what would Daito Ryu know?

But if you are worrying about unicorns and whether you love them or not, you might be in the right place. I just haven't met any yet.

Gav

Cliff Judge
12-18-2013, 09:04 AM
Hi Cliff,

Thats why I think it is hard to say what it is. It depends who gave it to you, and whether you have the whole story, and if your story even has unicorns. Amatsu Sensei just talked about the Asahi Dojo alot and how there were two types of Daito Ryu; Ueshiba Ryu and Takeda Ryu and what Hisa Sensei was like.

I asked Amatsu Sensei what was the most important item in Daito Ryu. He said it was the first teaching of Takeda Ryu, he told me dont love Daito Ryu! That is the highest teaching of Takeda Ryu and the first. He told me even before I started training with him. He said everyone who wants to learn Takeda Ryu must know this first teaching before they start and you must tell them Takeda sensei warned it.

So if people want to learn Takeda Ryu (or talk/write about it), they should at least know the first teaching and find a Daito Ryu dojo, its not a secret. Be careful what you 'burn in', you might have it for a long time. But what would Daito Ryu know?

But if you are worrying about unicorns and whether you love them or not, you might be in the right place. I just haven't met any yet.

Gav

I do not love Daito ryu. I love chocolate. And my dog.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-ehl6e4wjLqQ/UiMxQp5b6lI/AAAAAAAABKA/dIYxMVFVS7s/w958-h540-no/2013-08-28_20-14-07_805.jpg

Gavin Slater
12-18-2013, 10:09 AM
how could you not love that dog. :)