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Old 11-20-2002, 08:40 PM   #69
akiy's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 6,003
Re: ok, I'l bite

Hi Paul,
paul watt (paw) wrote:
Valid for what?
Good question. From what I've read, I'm guessing that Ron is talking about the age-old question of "martial effectiveness."
Ron has specific goals from aikido and in my mind legitimate doubts that the training method in the dojo he's in will help him reach those goals.
I agree -- his doubts are perfectly legitimate.

My questions above were more aimed at whether Ron is willing to change his thoughts about aikido's training methods or if he's on a one-track mission to "prove" aikido's training methods wrong...

Personally, I think that the training method as used in aikido does work as far as it producing martially effective people. Of course, that doesn't mean it can't stand a bit of self reflection nor changes.

To close, I'd like to quote Karl Friday from his book, "Legacies of the Sword" where he talks about his thoughts on the different training methods of sparring and kata:
Karl Friday wrote:
Proponents of sparring and the competitions that developed concomitantly argued that pattern practice alone cannot develop the seriousness of purpose, the courage, decisiveness, aggressiveness, and forbearance vital to true mastery of combat. Such skills, they said, can be fostered only by contesting with an equally serious opponent, not by dancing through kata. Pattern practice, moreover, forces students to pull their blows and slow them down, so they never develop their speed and striking power. Competition, it was argued, is also needed to teach students how to read and respond to an opponent who is actually trying to strike them.

Kata purists, on the other hand, retorted that competitive sparring does not produce the same state of mind as real combat and is not, therefore, any more realistic a method of training than pattern practice. Sparring also inevitably requires rules and modifications of equipment that move trainees even further away from the conditions of duels and/or the battlefield. Moreover, sparring distracts students from the mastery of the kata and encourages them to develop their own moves and techniques before they have fully absorbed those of the ryuha.

The controversy persists today, with little foreseeable prospect of resolution. It is important for our purposes here to note that it represents a divergence in philosophy that transcends the label of "traditionalists versus reformers" sometimes applied to it. In the first place, the conflict is nearly 300 years old, and the "traditionalist" position only antedates the "reformist" one by a few decades. In the second, advocates of sparring maintain that their methodology is actually closer to that employed in Sengoku and early Tokugawa times than is kata-only training. And in the third place, modern cognate martial arts schools -- the true reformists -- are divided over this issue: Judo relies exclusively on sparring to evaluate students, while aikido tests only by means of kata, and kendo uses a combination of kata and sparring in its examinations.

In any event, one must be careful not to make too much of the quarrels surrounding pattern practice, for the disagreements are disputes of degree, not essence. All of the traditional ryuha that survive today utilize kata as their central form of training. None has abandoned it or subordinated it to other teaching techniques.
Phew. That was longer than I thought, but I think it contains a lot of good thoughts on this subject. He devotes an entire section on "kata and pattern practice" (pp 102-119) which is too long to repeat here but recommended for people interested in why many koryu arts including Kashima Shinryu (which the book is about) rely heavily and sometimes even solely upon kata training.

-- Jun

PS: Diane Skoss also has a good piece on kata training on this very site here.

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