|Originally posted by Abasan
Hmm... my curiosity knows no bounds.
Coming from an Aikikai background, I find it fascinating that you are all discussing intently on the subject of katas. Does kata make up a significant part of yoshinkan/shodokan/similar style of aikido's curiculum?
Our method for learning the techniques basically has the sensei demonstrating what he wants us to practice. These techniques are done with omote and ura variations. Sometimes, additional variations are emphasised, such as a different tenkan, uchi, soto approach, atemis, reversals and such. With the limitless adaptions this type of training has, it becomes I suppose daunting for the average beginner. Personally I had problems with the omote and ura variations when I first joined.
Although the katas that you've mentioned seem to me a bit limiting on Aikido's open ended techniques. I find it a as a very smart system to introduce beginners to the art. as well as keeping the seniors from not practising their not so favourite moves, which you will find most would do when left to their own devices (I hate hammi handachi for instance ).
What are your thoughts on this? Also, what kind of turnover do you have with beginners? For us, quite a number of beginners disappear after several mind boggling lessons. Or possibly from aching bodies as a result of learning ukemi's the natural way.
You may find a few answers in an article called Kata Training and Aikido
by Diane Skoss, over on aikidojournal.com (It was originally published in Aiki News about 1994).
In the Shodokan dojo where I train, we spend a fair bit of our training working on kata, but a lot of our training also has our teacher demonstrating the techniques he wants us to practice, usually in any one session there will be some 'theme' linking those techniques. The techniques are based on the kata, but not limited to it, so as you progress things do tend to get a bit more 'open ended'.
I hope I'm not treading on anyones copyright by quoting a couple of lines.. As Diane Skoss says in that essay:
" The whole point of kata, or form, is to be able to ultimately transcend it--shu, ha, ri (keep the form, break the form, and leave the form). Vigorous training within the form is but the first step. When we practice kata in any martial art or way we are partaking of a legacy left us by our masters--the clues that point the way to breaking free of the form are embedded in the forms themselves."
As far as I know the beginner turnover is pretty much the same between Shodokan and Aikikai dojos though. (Maybe it is
the ukemi: after a few years of aikido training, it never ceases to amaze me how terrified the average person is of falling over!