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Old 01-30-2014, 09:14 AM   #2
lbb
Location: Massachusetts
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,801
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Re: Do we train enough to understand our art's meaning and philosophy?

A related thought: I have a dojo-mate who really struggles with weapons kata. Her way of training with weapons is distinctive: she talks her way through it, with a verbal description of everything that's happening -- not only that, but a full-on narrative that also includes her mental state: "...oh, wait, no, that's not right, I was thinking about x instead of y." A few months back, I said to her, "Have you tried doing this without talking? Because honestly, I think the talking is getting in your way." She was adamant: this talking process was how she learned the kata, the only way she could learn the kata. I didn't belabor the point, because who am I to tell her about her learning process? But I have since started to think that she was using the talking process to learn something...but it wasn't the kata. In other words, she could use it to teach herself whether she was supposed to step or slide here, what type of block or strike was supposed to be used there. She could learn the sequence of techniques. But the heart of the kata wasn't there. The sense of who initiates the first movement and why, the understanding that each subsequent movement is a response to something, the vision that sees the opening...all that was missing. The feeling of "Come and get me, fool!" when you deliberately give an opening. The whole sense of real-ness.

So it's not just "train, train, train". She's trying to do that. But it's a matter of how your head is in it (or not). You don't get that from abstract philosophy -- I like the 100 to 1 ratio, and I think the 100 has to come first before the 1 makes any sense. I think the solution initially, before you have the practice under your belt, is to not try to figure it out, to just be a sponge. My dojo-mate is trying to impose a sort of order on the new things she's learning -- the only kind of order that makes sense to her. But it doesn't make any sense to the kata. There's a difference between trying to just do it, and trying to just get the steps right (which is what she's trying to do). In trying to get the steps right, she's blocking the rest.
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