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Stone
08-20-2002, 01:54 PM
can someone explain to me how you would use a Jo or Bokken kata in actual combat. I'm sure this is a stupid question, but memorizing a series of movements doesn't seem practical for actually using them in battle.

Are the katas mainly for training only or would you identify an attack or 'opening' and then start a kata at a certain point to achieve an advantage?

I guess my point is, the katas I practice seem to flow nicely and make sense as they transition from one movement to the next, but in a real battle, it seems I might only use 2 or 3 consecutive movements from a kata at a time, only in a choreographed fight would doing the complete kata make any sense.

Kevin Wilbanks
08-20-2002, 02:14 PM
Only experience can judge for sure. Why don't you get back to us after your next real sword battle...

chadsieger
08-20-2002, 02:17 PM
Hey Scott,

The purpose of weapon katas as I see it, is to make you more comfortable with weapon. The jo kata contains all of the "moves" (ie. strikes and blocks) that you would ever need in a confrontation. By repetition your body and mind begin to memorize the feelings of the moves, allowing instantaneous recall should the situation arise. I wouldnt really use the term recall. Actually, its more like the move becomes part of you.

Eventaully, you learn to transform the kata steps into pratical responses during kumijo (paired jo practice).

Of course, the katas also help with footwork, mai (distance between yourself and attacker), and tai sabaki (correct body action)among other things. So, in sumation, katas are good.:D

Hope this helps,

Sieger

Bruce Baker
08-20-2002, 02:59 PM
Not only does practice with you jo or bokken help in timing and distance, but nearly all of the hand to hand drills come directly from practice with these simple tools.

The more you practice, the more simularitys yoou will see in applying the jo, bokken, or hand to hand techniques as you learn more and more variations from your foundations in kata, or simple movements of practice.

Keep at it. As you go to seminars, practice with your teacher, more and more of these frustrating drills will enter into variations, or just plain basic foundations for Aikido.

If it starts to fry your brain, stop for while until these things become clear. No sense in forcing yourself to do something you don't want to do. Your at home practice will begin again when the mind starts to realize how intertwined the sticks are to Aikido's hand to hand practice.

Jim ashby
08-21-2002, 03:37 AM
IMO the reason for Kata is, as a previous poster said, to make you more comfortable with the weapon. When I shot competetively, I spent hours every week with an empty gun, just doing draws and turns, dives to the floor, changes from dominant hand etc etc, just so I didn't have to think consciously about these movements in competition. All you are doing with Kata is conditioning your reflexes.

Have fun.

isshinryu88
08-21-2002, 05:57 AM
The usefulness of kata, weapon or emptyhand, consumes a lot of discussion time on a lot of forums and mailing lists. Most people fall into one of two camps- you can't succeed without kata and kata is useless. Not too many middle of the road individuals out there.

My view is that kata is a valuable tool. It gets you accustomed to the weight and balance of the weapon. In Karate, there are supposed to be two types of kata. One type is for training purposes and the other is to teach actual combat techniques, strategies and principles.

The problem many people run into is that they assume that a series of movements in a kata is exactly what is supposed to be done, in sequence. To explain the movements, they come up with convoluted stories about how their attacker does this, so they do that and then this happens, etc.

I don't know enough about Aikido weapon kata to give an example. Instead of looking at an entire series of movements, look at smaller pieces. The form may be showing how to use a certain angle of attack or how to respond to an attack. In Karate, many of the kata have sequences designed to entice the attacker to go after a specific target and then the defender is able to execute the sequence.

akiy
08-21-2002, 09:42 AM
The notion of kata permeates pretty much all budo. Many people consider aikido to be very much kata based outside of its randori/jiyuwaza practice. Kata basically means "shape" or "form" in which both parties go through a prescribed set of motions (ie one attacks a certain way, the other defends in a certain way).

The bulk of budo that uses kata do not use it in a "solo" form as is commonly associated with that word in the martial arts world. I believe a lot of people get this idea from the solo forms found in karate. In actuality, kata in most budo are paired practice exercises; koryu kenjutsu schools have within their systems many paired kata practice which constitute the crux of their training.

Kata were formed in order to provide people with a safe environment in which to attain the focus and intensity necessary to survive. In one way, training in kata provides the practitioners with "pieces" that they can use in actual melee; by going through the entire system of kata in a systematic manner, the practitioner receives an orthogonal set of initiating and responding movements. In another manner, kata provides the practitioner with strategies to create openings and gateways into the principles underlying that art.

In my own training, I've approached the weapons kata that I've learned as a set of exercises that creates questions -- not as a set of exercises that provide the answers. The questions may range from broad thoughts such as, "How the heck does this sequence actually work?" to "should my weight be on my front or back foot at this point?" Training in the forms and thinking about the underlying principles therein provide the answers.

For me, at least, weapons training has been quite helpful in my aikido. It provides me with an avenue to delve into principles such as maai, timing, relaxation, focus, and especially intent (both giving, receiving, and reading).

A couple of thoughts to end this rambling post:

Richard Heckler sensei once said that training in weapons is a great way to go back through the process of learning something new. Oftentimes, it's not the goal of learning something that's the lesson but the process of doing something unfamiliar, going through the pockets of frustration, and recognizing the progress that one has made that's the real lesson.

Frank Doran sensei often says, "Train empty-handedly as though you had a weapon; train in weapons as though you were empty handed"...

-- Jun

MaylandL
08-22-2002, 10:01 AM
...In one way, training in kata provides the practitioners with "pieces" that they can use in actual melee; by going through the entire system of kata in a systematic manner, the practitioner receives an orthogonal set of initiating and responding movements. In another manner, kata provides the practitioner with strategies to create openings and gateways into the principles underlying that art.

...
Hello Jun

I absolutely agree with this one. I've found that weapons training has given me a lot more to train on in terms of positioning and where I am in relation to Uke.

We do awase and kumitachi. Just as a thought. It seems to me that kumitachi is more martial in its intent than awase which I understand to be exercises in blending. You got any thoughts about this?
For me, at least, weapons training has been quite helpful in my aikido. It provides me with an avenue to delve into principles such as maai, timing, relaxation, focus, and especially intent....

...
Likewise. Weapons work and the paired awase, and kumitachi have been excellent training "tools". The concepts and principles that you mentioned when weapons are introduced become so much more evident to me.
Frank Doran sensei often says, "Train empty-handedly as though you had a weapon; train in weapons as though you were empty handed"...

...
Both the Sensei at my main dojo and the shidoin at the other dojo I train at emphasise and reemphasise this. I'm in the throes of trying to get this in my own mind and applying it in training. Kinda struggling with it at the moment but hey, that's why I train :)

Happy training all

Tony Peters
08-24-2002, 01:46 AM
The purpose of most (though not all) aikiweapons kata, both the solo and the paired to to teach priciples related to taijutsu (hand to hand) Aikiweapons techniques are not designed for nor are they good for "true combat" it wasn't the intention of the Kata's from their inception.

Jun did a very good job of describing the premise behind Koryu Kata

"In actuality, kata in most budo are paired practice exercises; koryu kenjutsu schools have within their systems many paired kata practice which constitute the crux of their training.

Kata were formed in order to provide people with a safe environment in which to attain the focus and intensity necessary to survive. In one way, training in kata provides the practitioners with "pieces" that they can use in actual melee; by going through the entire system of kata in a systematic manner, the practitioner receives an orthogonal set of initiating and responding movements. In another manner, kata provides the practitioner with strategies to create openings and gateways into the principles underlying that art"

This is a fundamental differnence with an art like Karate where the kata is solo. Aikido is done in a fairly traditional Kata like manner whether most realize it or not.