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Old 01-27-2010, 09:37 PM   #26
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

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. Perhaps not tonight as it would take me a while to do so and I have to get some sleep! lol!

I will ask this question though:

Quote:
The important thing is the tai sabaki--not the techniques
Why not simply just cut out all the stuff that is not important and practice the tai sabaki?

Judo has some great exercises for tai sabaki that have good connectedness and aliveness. Wrestling also has some good drills to teach tai sabaki.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDkFF...eature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zbs_aGNZVnI

Not really related 100% to the Tai Sabaki discussion, but some gems in the video....I think timing is very important.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5LjPK9B4WA

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. Blauer I think covers this concept pretty well with his training drills.

Okay, we can look at the bunkai in the videos you provide, but what fight skill is it really training? How does it help anyone learn anything concerning fighting when you have stripped out what I would consider the important dynamics of the fight?

More tomorrow, and thanks again for the great discussion.

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Old 01-27-2010, 10:59 PM   #27
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

grist.
I saw a good interview... interesting points.
Quote:
Kuroiwa Yoshio in, 'A Common Sense Approach To Aikido' wrote:
An interesting letter on.....Kata to waza...Kata: A Training Tool...Careless Use of "Ki"...Pitfalls of Idealism...Uke Central To Practice...The Yin and Yang of Aiki.....Yin: Practice, Yang: Matches
and other interesting stuffs. Is it relevant?
From< over @How Do Armbar. (<-nice site btw)

heh. `octopus dance`
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Old 01-28-2010, 08:57 AM   #28
David Orange
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

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Josh Phillipson wrote: View Post
grist.
I saw a good interview... interesting points.

and other interesting stuffs. Is it relevant?
From< over @How Do Armbar. (<-nice site btw)
Josh, that is interesting and I would never say that anything Kuroiwa Sensei wrote was not relevant. There are some very good points there, but I think his view of kata is very different from Mochizuki Sensei's traditional view.

In mainstream aikido, there is no kata as it is formally recognized in traditional jujutsu and sword. But I believe that each technique of mainstream aikido is considered to be a kata. As Kuroiwa Sensei said, "...we are not falling because we are being thrown but rather we are practicing a kata designed for us to be thrown." In other words, mainstream aikido technique practice is kata practice and the two sides are performing interlocking roles that leave one standing and the other on the ground. So the whole practice is kata.

However, in the old aikido, that was not how it went. You would learn through form, but the training required actually applying a workable technique to a vigorous attack, as in all jujutsu.

In Mochizuki Sensei's yoseikan aikido, the techniques are kihon and their variations. These are not considered "kata" in the formal sense. They are kihon waza. The real kata are another thing altogether, as illustrated by the two clips I posted before. There is another very important kata that I couldn't find on the web. It's Jutsuri no Kata, or "The Kata of the Princples of Technique," which is concerned with the dynamics of how techniques are developed.

So Kuroiwa Sensei is, of course, correct in the context in which he speaks, but in the real traditional martial arts context, those comments are less comprehensive.

Best to you.

David

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

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Old 01-28-2010, 02:14 PM   #29
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

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David Orange wrote: View Post
Kuroiwa Sensei .. some very good points there, but I think his view of kata is very different from Mochizuki Sensei's traditional view.
Your main point is this, I believe:

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
In mainstream aikido, ... two sides are performing interlocking roles that leave one standing and the other on the ground. So the whole practice is kata.

However, in the old aikido, that was not how it went. You would learn through form, but the training required actually applying a workable technique to a vigorous attack, as in all jujutsu.
...
Kuroiwa Sensei is, of course, correct in the context in which he speaks, but in the real traditional martial arts context, those comments are less comprehensive.
Here is the pertinent comment IMO:

Quote:
Kuroiwa interview wrote:
Yin practice is the expression of "shackled" form. Thus, it is first necessary to be shackled. It is important in training to correctly understand the roles of "uke" and "tori". Uke's role is to adjust himself/herself to the movement of tori and tori learns his/her movement with the cooperation of uke. Failure to understand this will lead to the misunderstanding that uke was thrown or pinned because tori's technique was excellent. Uke absorbs the movement of tori with his body by taking a pure fall. In other words, uke is not thrown but rather is practicing a form in which his role is to be thrown. Thus, the central character in practice is uke. Usually, in the case of fighting match, the first requirement is not to succumb to your opponent's attempt to break your balance. To have lost one's balance means to have been defeated. In the practice of Aiki, as uke we unconsciously assume that having our balance taken is a good thing. Here exists an important principle and a danger of yin practice. Unless one understands this (i.e., uke and tori are aware of this), practice is meaningless. ... A certain degree of Intellectualization is possible after recognition of this agreement. Otherwise, this merely leads to conceptual games and self-satisfaction.
In the film The Outlaw Josey Wales he said to the Kid "Now remember, things look bad and it looks like you're not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. 'Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That's just the way it is." The whole film is about Josey essentially running away from things that are looking pretty bad. Overall, th posture of the film seems very yin, but in close detail it is exceedingly yang. That's why it is a great bit of mythology. This kind of perspective is, I think, allied to Kuroiwa's point.

Ukemi is not "giving up' it is playing a role, with an eye toward requiring that one;s balance be taken and then following where it is taken to be able to see the natural point of reversal without the desire for it obscuring it.

There are two errors here, really: one is a commitment to a mindless, dive-bunny yin -- the other is refusing to surrender to the yin and try to maintain yang at all costs to avoid ukemi altogether. Neither one is correct.

The nature of things requires that before one can reattain strong yang one must fully turn through the yin state. It is not the amount if time spent in yin or yang that matters but rather the COMPLETENESS of acceptance of each in turn -- which therefore always includes its opposite regaining the priority of action in due course.

This is not a passive adoption of a sessile yin nor a vain scrabbling after a slipping yang but accepting both yin and yang in their proper orientation and roles.

At least that is how I see it and Kuroiwa's comments seem in the same neighborhood.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 01-28-2010, 10:43 PM   #30
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

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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.

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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.

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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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcA1KZZe-GU

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

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4BLLAY3Hfk

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.

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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 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philoso...ia_Mathematica) 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.

David

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

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 01-29-2010, 08:47 PM   #31
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
...what fight skill is it really training? How does it help anyone learn anything concerning fighting?...
Kevin,

Previously, I posted clips of judo's nage no kata, in which the attacks and defenses are rather exaggerated and symbolic. I posited that these kata were not really meant to build a lot of strength or to directly develop fighting reflexes, but to teach the principles of the art to the mind through the body. But thinking it over, I realize that your ideas about kata as developers of free-fighting reflexes do actually apply to the kata of karate. And that comparison is probably what Matt Thorton is thinking of, too, since that was the dominant art when Bruce Lee set down the dogmas of jeet kune do. It was the best known art and the one against which he was compared. He was introduced to the martial arts world at a karate tournament.

I began my martial arts training with karate, in 1972, with a guy who had a picture on his wall of himself in a group with Mas Oyama. Next, I trained with one of Mas Oyama's direct American students. I hold no rank in karate, but through the years, I trained in karate through the yoseikan curriculum, learning the five heian katas and Mochizuki Sensei's happo ken no kata. I taught myself bassai and tekki shodan from books and at points trained with a former Navy UDT who had lived in Japan in the late 1950s and trained at the shotokan hombu for some time with Hirokazu Kanazawa in 1957, when Kanazawa became All Japan Karate champion. This teacher taught me tensho and sanchin. Another direct student of Mas Oyama taught me the kyokushin kata, yontsu.

In fact, karate katas do focus on actual fighting applications and on building strength and endurance. But it is wrong to say that they are dead patterns without live meaning. And I will illustrate the truth here with a series of clips that show some extremely interesting things about kata and free fighting. First, I'm going to reference one of the most basic kata of karate: heian shodan, here demonstrated by the great Hirokazu Kanazawa, who, to my knowledge, is still teaching today at age 79. Here, he shows only the form. The question I'd like you to consider is, "What is he doing to ‘the other guy' with those movements? What are the techniques?" But for the sake of discussion, I'd like to consider application only for the first move of the form.

Hirokazu Kanazawa, heian shodan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYke_bqSW5k

So what is he doing with the very first move? What attack does he visualize when he makes that move?

It's commonly taught as a downward block against a front kick from the karate man's left side. The downward block is followed with a step into a front punch.

But if you think for a moment where the "downward block" puts your body and how it would work against the attacker's leg, it means that the kick was never coming anywhere near where you were standing before the downward block. So the attacker is not attacking with a front kick if the kata is really addressing a fighting movement. Why go out of your way to bang your forearm against the shin of someone whose kick would not touch you otherwise????

So the first move is not a defense agains a front kick from the side and the question is, what attack does Kanazawa see himself defending against with that first move?

Let's say that, in fact, the attacker is standing very close to Kanazawa's left side and he punches with his right hand to the side of Kanazawa's head. Can you explain how that same first movement of heian shodan would function if that were the case?

That's where kata begins to open up. Consider that the attack is not what you've thought, then consider all the other possible attacks and how each movement would relate to various likely attacks.

For real fighting, on the other hand, here is the "tiger" of the shotokan, K. Enoeda, a contemporary of Kanazawa's, who broke Frank Smith's jaw with a front kick.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruXWCdmTyoE

Here Enoeda demonstrates, tekki nidan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eyigma7PcS0

And here Kanazawa does the same form:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UDQC...eature=related

Anyone should be able to see the completely different qualities of the heian shodan form and the tekki nidan form. Each of the first five heian katas is similar to the others, but each is also distinctly different in nature. Moreover, watching Kanazawa and Enoeda do tekki nidan, it's easy to see that each man does all the movements essentially the same, quite without personal variation or expression, but each man's personality still shows itself through the uniform movements.

But how does this relate to fighting? Well, here is something I never expected to see (YouTube has changed the world):

Kanazawa vs. Enoeda kumite

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PL-qEPUDBlI

I find that one fascinating, with several moments well worth considering. Keep in mind that it is probably fifty years old. And with that in mind, do you see anything in that clip that might have been the inspiration for some of Bruce Lee's screen mannerisms ten years later? I do.

Best to you.

David

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

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Old 01-30-2010, 10:01 AM   #32
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

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The kata are like the "encyclopedia" of the arts. A scientist doesn't say "All those old formulas and axioms don't apply to me because I only work in the 'real' world of test tubes and chemical reactions." He knows that there is tremendous value in all the documentation of all the scientific research that has gone before. Traditional MA katas are just like that. They contain the documentation of what other people learned the hard way long before us. They didn't survive because the guy who created them was a weakling. They survived because he was very good and the people who followed him accepted them as his gift from history.
This is pretty obvious to me, but we live in a world where "old is useless". It's sad.

Pablo.
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Old 01-30-2010, 06:15 PM   #33
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

David wrote:

Quote:
The question I'd like you to consider is, "What is he doing to ‘the other guy' with those movements? What are the techniques?" But for the sake of discussion, I'd like to consider application only for the first move of the form.
Traditional Kata is fine. Nothing wrong with it. I spent a weekend a few months ago with Ushiro Sensei doing sanchin kata and learning alot of good structure and form.

I am NOT against kata at all, it has it's place.

I do question though the majority of folks that I have encountered in kata based systems when it comes to actually application in the real world.

Most I have found, have not had the experiences nor do they understand the place that kata plays in reality.

I think they put way too much emphasis on kata and cannot adequately translate it into how it is applied. It is but one piece of a system/methodology.

So when you talk about "dead" kata, it is not so much that the kata is "dead" but the practicioner cannot clearly communicate or perform it in a way that makes it alive.

For example, it is possible for one to go through the mechanics of Sanchin Kata and it can be totally "dead". Then you can have Ushiro Sensei perform it and it can be "alive".

Why is that?

Also, many might say that HIS Sanchin kata is "Advanced". What makes it advanced? ...especially when it is regarded as such a basic kata!

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Old 01-30-2010, 06:25 PM   #34
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

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This is pretty obvious to me, but we live in a world where "old is useless". It's sad.

Pablo.
It becomes useless when those doing it cannot clearly articulate how it helps.

From Thornton's standpoint and criteria, he is looking for someone that does the "old things" to show him how it is useful. It appears that no one has been able to do this. So you can't fault him on that.

Now maybe Machida can do that...maybe Machida would say the same thing as Thornton? Who knows?

Just because Machida has a traditional background does not necessarily mean he considers it a primary driver in his success in the ring. It would be interesting to hear how he feels about it.

I think there is relative value in everything we do, and finding the balance is key.

"Old" is useful to me in many respects, it depends on the context of what I am training.

Again, I think it is important to understand and be able to articulate how "Old" is useful.

Most folks in TMA cannot though, and frankly, I have abandoned much of my TMA training as it is simply NOT an efficient way to train for the things I think are important to me.

The day someone can demonstrate to me that they are...then I will do them.

There are a number of things I do on a daily basis that are considered "Old" and are considered basic "kata" exercises.

I think the difference is...I view them as exercises and structure, and NOT methods of fighting.

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Old 01-31-2010, 06:04 AM   #35
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It becomes useless when those doing it cannot clearly articulate how it helps.

From Thornton's standpoint and criteria, he is looking for someone that does the "old things" to show him how it is useful. It appears that no one has been able to do this. So you can't fault him on that.

"Old" is useful to me in many respects, it depends on the context of what I am training.

Again, I think it is important to understand and be able to articulate how "Old" is useful.

Most folks in TMA cannot though, and frankly, I have abandoned much of my TMA training as it is simply NOT an efficient way to train for the things I think are important to me.

The day someone can demonstrate to me that they are...then I will do them.

There are a number of things I do on a daily basis that are considered "Old" and are considered basic "kata" exercises.

I think the difference is...I view them as exercises and structure, and NOT methods of fighting.
I agree with you. If you don't have someone who can explain what is the meaning of doing some or other form, then it's useless. Unless you are clever enough to pick the things that are "Hidden in plain sight" (which is not my case btw )

I've seen 3 or more different bunkai to the same Karate kata depending on the style (and even the school inside the same style!). And the same movement was slightly different because of the application they inherited or they found to be more likely (easiest way to loose the origins of the art sometimes). What was the original idea behind it? Who knows, maybe the person who did the original kata died with the secret 100 or more years ago.

So the problem is always the same. Finding a good teacher who knows the "real deal". Will that be possible in 20/30 years?

But as David said before, I think that old forms still have utility, whether you use them as a key to understand the art, or as a mean to gain a good structure as you said.

Pablo.
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Old 01-31-2010, 10:43 AM   #36
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Traditional Kata is fine. Nothing wrong with it. I spent a weekend a few months ago with Ushiro Sensei doing sanchin kata and learning alot of good structure and form.

For example, it is possible for one to go through the mechanics of Sanchin Kata and it can be totally "dead". Then you can have Ushiro Sensei perform it and it can be "alive".

Why is that?
Also, many might say that HIS Sanchin kata is "Advanced". What makes it advanced? ...especially when it is regarded as such a basic kata!
Imagine I taught you the typography of French and drilled you closely on the all the sounds, until you could read a passage of Baudelaire that would make a Parisienne literaire weep for beauty and her legs wobble in desire. And yet -- you would not have the slightest clue what it was you said -- the intended reference that the sound encodes would be missing. Most kata is like that -- except that kata movement is not quite as divorced form what it encodes and so some hit or miss on getting it.

Sanchin encodes what in some aiki circles has been called asagao. It is a mechanical principle shown by the thing that asagao refers to -- the opening and closing of the morning glory blossom. It starts extended longitudninally and torqued -- as with the end of the strike in sanchin and then opens untorquing laterally, as with the withdrawal and chamber of the strike in sanchin, and then slightly torquing to lock in the "open" position. The characteristic structural aspect is that extension in one axis is compensated by shortening in another axis coupling the two with the "internal" torque.

Both of these reciprocal movements are seen also in various sword work, but most notably in O-chiburi -- where the "wringing" action of the hands on the tsuka extending it in seigan is increased, and then the back hand released, the blade is opened widely, sweeping outward and forward -- untorquing initially from the release and and then torquing up to take up the momentum at the extension. Then the cleaning sling shortens and closes inward, untorquing initially and then torquing inward again in turn to take up the motion and bring the blade to rest -- but "sprung" in a sense -- and ready to move again from that position.

In sanchin the same thing is going on in the lower body as well which is why the torqued-in pigeon-toe foot posture and "drawing" form of step -- it is an exaggerated aspect of the dynamic being traced out.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 01-31-2010 at 10:45 AM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
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Old 01-31-2010, 12:12 PM   #37
David Orange
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

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There are a number of things I do on a daily basis that are considered "Old" and are considered basic "kata" exercises.

I think the difference is...I view them as exercises and structure, and NOT methods of fighting.
Well, a good kata will always be a good for developing structure, and in many ways, that can be more important than a particular fighting method. What did you think of Kanazawa's kata? And how do you suppose that influenced his fighting style? Would you have predicted from watching him do heian shodan that he would fight as he did?

And what does it mean that he and his opponent both had the same training? As far as I know, both were deeply trained in only shotokan karate do and both were considered at the top of their generation, so that was a very high level fight for its day. But we saw o soto gari attemped, o soto gari successfully done, and a sutemi waza in the first few seconds.

Clearly, for Kanazawa, at least, the kata did not hamper freedom of personal thought and expression.

Now, again, compare the karate katas to military close order drill. You have basic postures that link in series to move huge numbers of men cleanly over various distances and through procedures such as loading onto airplanes and unloading, etc. And each man must be able to perform all the basic postures and movements alone and with the group to be an efficient member of the fighting group.

But the kata of karate are a kind of training far beyond close order drill because the group movements become increasingly complex and demanding on the physique as well as the mentality of each participant. And the particular series of the movement contains deep information of its own, related to history, culture, fighting tactics, internal strength development and other things while also being a kind of Zen meditation to open a state of mind.

Of course, that mental state is also used in military close order drill and part of the purpose of close order drill is to empty the soldier's mind and make him directly responsive to the commands of the leadership and to the small physical cues from his fellows.

So what may look useless from the outside and maybe even more useless to the people participating in it, may in fact serve a much deeper usefulness, visible only to those who penetrate and come to understand them fully.

I understand that Kanazawa is 79 years old now and that he's still teaching (last I heard). Here he is at age 72:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Atk9aiunwBo

The traditonal karate method seems to have served him much better than JKD served Bruce Lee.

Just sayin'....

David

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Old 01-31-2010, 02:51 PM   #38
Shane Goodrich
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

I don't understand when I see some movement in kata but when I see practitioner of said kata fight/spar they don't do the movements like done in the kata. For example the blocks, they don't cross there arms(thus bringing the blocking arm away from what it is suppose to block) before blocking.

I always wonder if we had no tradition of kata(I refer to the one person tma type katas) or the traditional ways of learning in tma. Say we only had aliveness methods or whatever ways are considered good training for MMA/fighting then one day someone had the idea of tma type training methods, one person katas with multiple levels of meaning, chambered blocks,etc what would we think of that?
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Old 01-31-2010, 03:59 PM   #39
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

I personally think there's a weird disconnect between 'kata for conditioning', 'kata as story book' and randori.

It's conceivable that lots of folks mish-mash things with different purposes together.

Would you try to 'beat someone up' with deadlifts, windsprints etc...or would you use the attributes those things imbue to improve your randori?

Perhaps then - viewed in more contemporary terms - one could consider particular kata as the preferred 'sports specific strength and conditioning regime' of an art. The fact that they're done over and over could be an aspect of 'learning the drills' and/or 'remembering the plays', too - none of which mitigates the need to actually 'play the game' (randori).

Ergo, randori is the application of these developed attributes. Without it, you're doing a quaint style of Taebo

Case in point:

Take a look at (for example) this fairly odd looking kata. If you've ever done karate, it may ring a bell

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KprSXB25BDA

then consider it in light of this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Go3eI8sOuyQ

and this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTJNHWDfm24

I happen to like Matt's ideas, teaching method (3-I) and arguments. He makes a compelling, logical and well reasoned argument - for randori. But martial arts > just randori. (I'm open to the obvious counter argument, too. As always - ICBW).

PS: It should be pointed out that certain arts use kata as two man 'drills' - and against resistance, to boot. An example would be Judo's katame-no-kata. In fairness, judo is a bit of an outlier when it comes to it's kata practice.

In the end, I don't think there's much conflict between kata and aliveness, except when folks try to 'fight with deadlifts and bench presses'. Further, none of this excuses martial arts as shallow practice, social / cultural dojo issues etc YMMV

PPS: IIRC, In 'Judo Formal techniques', Otaki & Draeger break the 'ideal' mix down as 17% Kata, 80% Randori and 3% shiai (competition fighting). (The exact numbers may be wrong, so please check yourselves). Always though that was pretty interesting...

Last edited by bob_stra : 01-31-2010 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 01-31-2010, 04:29 PM   #40
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

Quote:
Bob Strahinjevich wrote: View Post
I happen to like Matt's ideas, teaching method (3-I) and arguments. He makes a compelling, logical and well reasoned argument - for randori. But martial arts > just randori. (I'm open to the obvious counter argument, too. As always - ICBW).
I don't think Thornton would disagree with you.

Quote:
Finally, all that's left is a sports like environment, and performance. At this point it's time for the ego's last step. The realization that measurement itself is futility.

Although what you are now left doing is a million times more ‘real' than anything an image based Martial Artist will ever engage in; it still must not serve as a measurement of who YOU are.

Why? For one it's always relative so you must evaluate yourself ONLY based on YOUR own increases in performance. And although that requires another person, or opponent, that does not mean you are measuring yourself against that person. You only measure your progress based on your previous skill level, not their previous skill level. There will ALWAYS be someone better, stronger, faster, or smarter on any given day. There will also ALWAYS be people you will better then, on any given day. Therefore that form of measurement is meaningless at best. All that matters is that you grow in comparison to where you where before, NOT in comparison to who you could or could not beat before.

The second reason why measurement is futility is because WHO you actually ARE exists completely outside duality, and therefore outside the process of measurement.
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Old 01-31-2010, 05:15 PM   #41
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

David wrote:

Quote:
Of course, that mental state is also used in military close order drill and part of the purpose of close order drill is to empty the soldier's mind and make him directly responsive to the commands of the leadership and to the small physical cues from his fellows.
Yes, but it is also overly simplistic as well. One thing we are very keen on the military today is that training must be multi-layered. Live, Virtual, and Constructive. Live meaning it must replicate as close as possible to the actual conditions one will experience. Virtual to replicate those things that are time consuming, expensive, or dangerous, or hard to measure. Constructive....all training must be done in a way that provides feedback.

This is my whole point about kata. It is but one aspect of training, and the person must understand the linkages.

That is all I am really saying I suppose.

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Old 01-31-2010, 05:19 PM   #42
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

Quote:
Shane Goodrich wrote: View Post
I don't understand when I see some movement in kata but when I see practitioner of said kata fight/spar they don't do the movements like done in the kata. For example the blocks, they don't cross there arms(thus bringing the blocking arm away from what it is suppose to block) before blocking.

I always wonder if we had no tradition of kata(I refer to the one person tma type katas) or the traditional ways of learning in tma. Say we only had aliveness methods or whatever ways are considered good training for MMA/fighting then one day someone had the idea of tma type training methods, one person katas with multiple levels of meaning, chambered blocks,etc what would we think of that?
Okay, lets look at this scenario. What if you had a bunch of guys that fought without any understanding of methodology. Lets say their methods were simply trial and error and they fought everyday and tried to replicate success.

Eventually they would reach the conclusion that they needed to figure out how to break things down into a more systematic approach. It would involve some sort of kata.

Again, the issue is not that kata is not helpful, just that alot of kata that is practiced out there is simply alot of stuff that no longer can be articulated back to something that allows it to be a systematic and progressive system that someone can even understand.

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Old 02-01-2010, 07:28 AM   #43
Shane Goodrich
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
Okay, lets look at this scenario. What if you had a bunch of guys that fought without any understanding of methodology. Lets say their methods were simply trial and error and they fought everyday and tried to replicate success.

Eventually they would reach the conclusion that they needed to figure out how to break things down into a more systematic approach. It would involve some sort of kata.

Again, the issue is not that kata is not helpful, just that alot of kata that is practiced out there is simply alot of stuff that no longer can be articulated back to something that allows it to be a systematic and progressive system that someone can even understand.
This is what I mean by "one person tma type kata". 2-person katas are different, every style does them, they often just call them "drills" and the moves make sense. If the moves in the single person kata were all real fight moves or done specifically for body training(like internal conditioning) that would be a different case. It would be like shadow boxing, except you would not improvise. As an example for kickboxing a one person kata could be :Jab,jab,right,jab, move back, move left, shin block, front kick,etc.

That would make sense to me. And to be clear about the non fighting conditioning katas, it needs to be clear, how,why and for what purpose. Kata may have body training in mind but if no one is able to teach it the proper way, who cares.
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Old 02-01-2010, 03:12 PM   #44
David Orange
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

Quote:
Shane Goodrich wrote: View Post
That would make sense to me. And to be clear about the non fighting conditioning katas, it needs to be clear, how,why and for what purpose. Kata may have body training in mind but if no one is able to teach it the proper way, who cares.
Well, once you know some of the rationale behind single-person katas, you can work some things out for yourself. They are really meant for you to find out for yourself what's there by doing them and thinking about the purpose of the movements.

There is so much the master can tell you, but the art is for you to work it out for yourself. If you take a good kata and work on it by yourself for ten years, really diligently, you'll develop your own understanding. Of course, that's assuming you do kihon practice and kumite along with the kata practice.

Best to all.

David

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

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 02-01-2010, 05:12 PM   #45
Shane Goodrich
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
Well, once you know some of the rationale behind single-person katas, you can work some things out for yourself. They are really meant for you to find out for yourself what's there by doing them and thinking about the purpose of the movements.

There is so much the master can tell you, but the art is for you to work it out for yourself. If you take a good kata and work on it by yourself for ten years, really diligently, you'll develop your own understanding. Of course, that's assuming you do kihon practice and kumite along with the kata practice.

Best to all.

David
Thats the kind of thing I would want to avoid in training, I think that kind of training is not the most effective way to train if your sole purpose is becoming better at fighting, I think that way is outdated.

Why learn blocks that are not really a block but a throw, a grab,etc when I can just learn a throw,a grab or a block(I understand some moves can clearly do multiple things like a strike that can also block, but putting aside that for the moment). If the tradition did not exist of doing things like that, would the idea even be given the slightest bit of thought? If no one had come up training that way, then heard of it after the fact, would they consider showing that to there students? If as the example given above mentioned two people use trial and error to find the best training methodology, would that be part of the result?

Many martial arts in the past were very secretive so they often keep things obscure on purpose, but now things have gotten beyond that point(mostly at least).
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Old 02-01-2010, 05:54 PM   #46
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

Quote:
David Orange wrote: View Post
Well, once you know some of the rationale behind single-person katas, you can work some things out for yourself. They are really meant for you to find out for yourself what's there by doing them and thinking about the purpose of the movements.

There is so much the master can tell you, but the art is for you to work it out for yourself. If you take a good kata and work on it by yourself for ten years, really diligently, you'll develop your own understanding. Of course, that's assuming you do kihon practice and kumite along with the kata practice.

Best to all.

David
I suppose there is some value in this, but for me, I prefer a much more direct and "open book" approach to spending my time training. My instructors can tell me everything that they can tell me, the day I am better than them, or their is nothing else they can provide, then I am moving on, as it should be.

I agree that you have to work things out for yourself at some level. In BJJ circles the masters talk about "developing your game".

However, I think this might be a slight bit different based on your description above, as they teach with an open book and tell you what things are and what they are designed to do. Developing your game is not about that, it is about synthesizing the practice into patterns and responses that work for you.

So any single person kata I do is about developing structure and conditioning. Sure some of the motions might look like something you'd do in fighitnig, however it is very clear that they are about conditioning and development...not about finding hidden bunkai. My teachers can and do tell you why we are going what we are doing.

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Old 02-01-2010, 08:42 PM   #47
Shane Goodrich
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Re: Matt Thorton recounts an experience with Aikido

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
I suppose there is some value in this, but for me, I prefer a much more direct and "open book" approach to spending my time training. My instructors can tell me everything that they can tell me, the day I am better than them, or their is nothing else they can provide, then I am moving on, as it should be.

I agree that you have to work things out for yourself at some level. In BJJ circles the masters talk about "developing your game".

However, I think this might be a slight bit different based on your description above, as they teach with an open book and tell you what things are and what they are designed to do. Developing your game is not about that, it is about synthesizing the practice into patterns and responses that work for you.

So any single person kata I do is about developing structure and conditioning. Sure some of the motions might look like something you'd do in fighitnig, however it is very clear that they are about conditioning and development...not about finding hidden bunkai. My teachers can and do tell you why we are going what we are doing.
I agree. If I am training to learn to fight in the most efficient way, I want to know what the moves are for and why there done in that way and then practice them in that way.
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