View Single Post
Old 01-28-2010, 10:43 PM   #30
David Orange
Dojo: Aozora Dojo
Location: Birmingham, AL
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,511
Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Thanks for the discussion David. I agree alot with what you say, most of it. I think we may have a different perspective on Kata that I would like to explore maybe a little more indepth as this is a great conversation.
I enjoy it, too. It's a good discussion when someone can appreciate the subtlety in the topic.

Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
I will ask this question though:

Why not simply just cut out all the stuff that is not important and practice the tai sabaki?
There are several good reasons for that.

First, it's not that the techniques are meaningless but that the point is not to display the techniques. It's to display the tai sabaki in context, to show that there is an inside version and an outside version for each one except the fifth, which is an outside movement and has no inside variation.

The techniques are shown to illustrate that each version of each tai sabaki is not just an avoidance of a strong attack, but has the potential to blend directly into a powerful destruction of the attack--so that the attack comes out to destroy the defender, who stands in shizentai, and without preparation, the defender uses taisabaki to absorb the strength of the attack, lead it into weakness and to destruction in a single beat. Or a one-two. Or a very long o------oooooo--------ooooooo------nnnnnnnnn-------eeeeeee.......directly into a most unpredictable throw.

So that kata is a statement that 1) there are five fundamental tai sabaki and these are those five; 2) each tai sabaki has an inside and an outside variation except the last, o soto irimi senkai, which has only an outside variation; and that each tai sabaki is not just an avoidance but should always be applied to exploit the weakness of the attack in a technique that instantly destroys the attack.

Therefore, nothing in that kata is not important, including the careful stepping when the participants move into place between segments.

Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Judo has some great exercises for tai sabaki that have good connectedness and aliveness. Wrestling also has some good drills to teach tai sabaki.
And so did Sensei's yoseikan--all the uchi komi of judo, prepared sets of attempted technique, resistance, alternate technique exploiting the resistance, and so on. Those are drills and are a sort of intermediate step between kata and randori. So kata is another thing again and has a different content than drills, with information on many more levels than the myriad of drills that can be created. I've created my own series of drills to teach the four main foot sweeps of judo. But I wouldn't want to replace the kata of judo with those exercises. Here is a kata I had to do in Japan in a large group and get tested on it the same day I learned it and get marked off as qualified to apply for shodan in judo. The group I learned in were all middle school students except for a few of us adults who were doing aikido at the yoseikan and whom Sensei ordered to earn black belts in judo. In this clip, a young girl is demonstrating that kata in preparation to earn shodan.

Yet when judo became an official Olympic sport in 1964, it was that same kata they chose to perform at the opening demonstration here:

The kata begins at about 1:21. But you can compare this version, with two masters, to the performance of the young woman in the other clip.

Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
The examples you provided are fine, but what are the teaching points they are trying to acheive. They are void of all timing and fight pressure. That has been filtered all out. I don't believe that as good as the posture and technique might be that it would survive the "combat pressure" that come into play with timing and fight pressure.
Actually, that's like saying that Newton's Principia ( can't withstand the force of gravity. It's not meant to. But it can perfectly and completely describe every force of martial arts. Kata, as I've said before, are not drills for fighting application. They are encyclopediae of the principles of the arts that use them. They are another means of study to sharpen the mind of someone who has done an incredible amount of "live" training. When real judo people hit a wall in randori, they go back to the kata to find a breakthrough.

And the precise movement and the quiet, intense concentration of the kata also create a kind of hypnotic space in which the mind can open and suddenly recognize new relationships within the techniques, enabling him suddenly to break down barriers between techniques and to move with more freedom and spontaneity than before.

And last, by long practice of moving very precisely with another person, stopping, starting, and moving in various directions precisely together, kata develps the ability to move very precisely in relation to other people's movement. This becomes clear when you do things like work with another person on something like moving furniture or construction materials, or doing work like carpentry or hanging sheetrock or something. You can anticipate the other person's intent to move and move big objects together more efficiently because of the kata movement experience.

Okay. I had another set of materials going earlier in the day, but the machine crashed somehow. So my next post will show a progression of katas and teaching methods from karate and jujutsu that I hope will leave you with no questions that the kata method contains tremendous information and value.

Best to you.


"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"
  Reply With Quote