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View Full Version : Kata's Hidden Wisdom (and yes, what you practice in Aikido is kata)


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Peter Boylan
03-15-2015, 01:52 PM
When you train particular attacks and responses in aikido, you're doing kata training. These kata may not be quite as formalized as koryu kata, but they are, none the less, kata. Do you ever break down the kata and find out what lessons are hidden within those kata? My most recent budo blog post, is about the lessons hidden in kata and how we can discover them.

http://budobum.blogspot.com/2015/03/katas-hidden-wisdom.html

Janet Rosen
03-15-2015, 04:45 PM
EXCELLENT way to keep plumbing the depths of how and why we do what we do.

Rupert Atkinson
03-15-2015, 10:02 PM
It is very important to disect kata to try to figure it all out. The main reason is because few teach such - it has been forgotten so it is up to the self to discern. Of course, this is good learning practice, but surely a better start would be that the teacher know and teach the kata properly in the first place, leaving curious minds to come up with additional new ideas. All too often, kata are named by the attacking strike, or by the waza done, or both. Therefore, what is missed is what is probably, in my opinion, the main point - the key concept being taught in that particular movement. For example, a particular timing, or distance, a different step, a counter, a direction, or some other concept that is not named and therefore easily lost in transition or translation.

Peter Boylan
03-16-2015, 10:12 AM
It is very important to disect kata to try to figure it all out. The main reason is because few teach such - it has been forgotten so it is up to the self to discern. Of course, this is good learning practice, but surely a better start would be that the teacher know and teach the kata properly in the first place, leaving curious minds to come up with additional new ideas. All too often, kata are named by the attacking strike, or by the waza done, or both. Therefore, what is missed is what is probably, in my opinion, the main point - the key concept being taught in that particular movement. For example, a particular timing, or distance, a different step, a counter, a direction, or some other concept that is not named and therefore easily lost in transition or translation.

I find that most kata teach a number of things, and one problem people have is that they single out just one aspect of the kata and focus on that, missing all of the other lessons.

The aikido teacher I enjoy training with the most is Jim Baker, down in Norfolk, because he doesn't just do the techniques. He has worked on understanding the whole of what is going on. Often I can see any number of huge suki in people's aikido technique. Jim's taken the time to explore the techniques and figure out how to close those holes. He just doesn't leave those doors to being countered open. That requires really exploring the kata slowly and discovering what happens when uke does different things. It's a slow process, and I don't see enough people in Aikido doing that sort of thing.

Rupert Atkinson
03-16-2015, 10:26 PM
I find that most kata teach a number of things, ... Often I can see any number of huge suki in people's aikido technique. Jim's taken the time to explore the techniques and figure out how to close those holes.

Quite right, but sometimes, a suki is fine as long as you know it is there, or because you put it there, as it allows you to predict or create the immediate future.

Peter Boylan
03-17-2015, 01:45 PM
Quite right, but sometimes, a suki is fine as long as you know it is there, or because you put it there, as it allows you to predict or create the immediate future.

That's not suki though. That's bait.

Cliff Judge
03-17-2015, 02:07 PM
It is very important to disect kata to try to figure it all out. The main reason is because few teach such - it has been forgotten so it is up to the self to discern. Of course, this is good learning practice, but surely a better start would be that the teacher know and teach the kata properly in the first place, leaving curious minds to come up with additional new ideas. All too often, kata are named by the attacking strike, or by the waza done, or both. Therefore, what is missed is what is probably, in my opinion, the main point - the key concept being taught in that particular movement. For example, a particular timing, or distance, a different step, a counter, a direction, or some other concept that is not named and therefore easily lost in transition or translation.

You can dissect and analyze the kata all you want, but you had better be prepared to entirely drop what you thought you knew yesterday when you are shown something different tomorrow. Because you might show YOURSELF something new but miss it if you think you've got it figured out.

Rupert Atkinson
03-17-2015, 06:27 PM
You can dissect and analyze the kata all you want, but you had better be prepared to entirely drop what you thought you knew yesterday when you are shown something different tomorrow. Because you might show YOURSELF something new but miss it if you think you've got it figured out.

I agreee - but this is probably the very basis of what kata is. Someone figures something out, and in order to remember and teach it, they fix the idea in a kata.

Cliff Judge
03-18-2015, 08:26 AM
I agreee - but this is probably the very basis of what kata is. Someone figures something out, and in order to remember and teach it, they fix the idea in a kata.

Yeah, and I strongly suspect that students will often have genuinely useful insights that had never occurred to the sensei.

Erick Mead
03-18-2015, 09:40 AM
That's not suki though. That's bait.I thought it was merely polite to hold the door open.

Don't you ? :D

JP3
03-20-2015, 06:37 PM
I've always liked to go back to the very, very basic stuff and change how it is done.... once someone has a basic understanding of "This is how we do it" in class.

In our Tomiki style school, we do this thing called the 8 Releases (some call it hanasu-no-kata when they are trying to be mysterious or Japanese), but it's the very first interaction drill we put people in contact with each other to perform together. At it's most basic level, we use it to show people how they are able to unbalance an opponent and be unbalanced, through the interactions of the series of wrist-grabs (the usual list, y'all, mirror-side and cross-side, turn inside or turn outside, palm-up vs palm down) and how the interactions mechanically work. At higher levels of proficiency, we use it to discuss timing and distance relationships, and so on and so forth.

But... we almost always do this with "nice practice," with each of the partners cooperating, giving only the energy necessary to grip and try to walk through/with the opponent, and we try to instill initiating the movement just AS the person's grip is settling onto your wrist.

Then I come in and toss a wrench into the works and have them start... stuck. Bam, you've been grabbed, you were talking to someone and didn't see Mojo the Man-Mountain with a bad attitude sneaking up on you in his black pajamas festooned with embroidered shuriken and he's got you. "OK, so now do the release. Huh, didn't work the same, did it. Can you... feel how you could find it and get it to still work? Don't move the same direction you did before, there's one answer..." and so on... It's a good time and I can almost always smell the burning hear as people's heads heat up with frustration.

Once someone can do it "stuck." I'll move them up to a non-cooperative bad guy, which is fun, but can get...energetic and sometimes even a bit dangerous, so be careful with that!

The above sort of practice can be extended to cover all of our kata training, too. So we do that sometimes.