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Old 12-01-2010, 09:30 AM   #1
Alberto_Italiano
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Your thoughts on katas

Given the incredible amount of intelligent ideas and outlooks we find in this forum, I would be interested in your ideas and experiences about katas - I am sure there are threads already about this topic, but rather than reviving something old maybe it's better a new thread so to locate more conveniently the contributions.

I'd articulate my question as follows:

1) Are there katas in aikido, and how do you suggest them to be done - and which ones? (suggestions, ideas welcome)

2) What is the purpose of katas?

3) katas "against" the void, or katas against objects? If one considers shaolin, you could kata to imitate the way of fighting of everyting, even of the rain - and you could or maybe even should kata against everything, included trees (the idea of fighting against an oak my seem preposterous, and yet we find sort of this world behind shaolin, apparently - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-bnC4iaslg ).

As for point 2, the question is not immaterial and less trivial it may seem.
Some martial arts are supposed to be without katas - that's not true, actually. Boxing is supposed to be without katas, but it's not the case - when your partner wears boxing pads on his hands and you produce combinations hitting those pads, that's katas indeed although the combative setting may disguise it: if kata means "shape" or "shilouette" (I think it may derive from the idea of shadows cast on the ground), that boxing (or... shadowboxing) training is by all accounts the reproduction of shapes.

Of course, katas are more apparent in their ideogram in martial arts like karate - which leads us to the question: what are katas for, considering that in a fight you will rarely see a "shape" as you see it in katas.

Aikido is more inclined to reproduce the ideogram of a kata also in a simulated fight, and this may lead to the idea that aikido "fights" may reproduce katas with fidelity - yet this depends on the fact ukes are often very stylized in their attacks and their incoming yokomenuchi or shomenuchi are far too mild - in a real fight your opponent would move very fast flashing both his arms in front of you at a high rated speed, and whenever an arm is grabbed s/he would attempt to subtract it from your hold with utter vehemence: once this more realistic setting is implemented, you will notice that also katas in aikido do not seem katas anymore.

Your opponent's arm slips off your hold, you get pushed and you can't always tenkan properly for your opponent has two arms and grabs you too and if you tenkan again he simply jumps along to be frontal immediately, unexpected weapons are suddenly produced, your nikkio may fail or your opponent may move fast and hard enough to remove his hand from your nikkio and at that point either you are ready to face another fresh confrontation (your opponent moves to face you squarely once again), or you fumble to keep an hold of his arm.
"Fumble" is the exact opposite of a kata - but the fact is, in a rough confrontation where a determined opponent really means to hit you on the nose repeatedly and where he jumps around without waiting for your technique, you do fumble at times.

At this point the question is legitimate: what katas are good for aikido, and what are katas for?

Last but not least: katas are about repetition. I assume the idea behind katas is that of attaining and ripening an innermost understanding of the logics of the art, indipendently of this or that technique, so that eventually you learn that in your martial art there is only _one_ technique.
But why is _repetition_ conducive to this, in your perception (provided in your opinion that's what katas are for, of course)?
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:01 AM   #2
Janet Rosen
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

I believe that the common form of empty hand training, in which there is a designated nage and uke, a designated attack, and a designated technique is a two person kata. Each role has an idealized "form" that can be modeled without a partner. The actual form will vary depending on the style/instructor and on the actual uke/nage interface.

Kata is about getting the correct form into muscle memory so that
1. it doesn't have to be thought about, its just there when needed
2. it can be played with, explored, refined on ever deeper levels (why some of us love kata)
3. variations can be explored or improvisations done based on the solidity of the integrated knowledge

My two cents.

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 12-01-2010, 10:12 AM   #3
ChrisHein
 
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

I think you answered your own question, quite a few times. Don't get caught up on "to kata, or not to kata".

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Old 12-01-2010, 12:31 PM   #4
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

1. Yes, I believe there are kata in aikido. I think much of what we commonly call "kihon waza" probably should be called "kata." Kata should be performed collusively, if not cooperatively, in the spirit of learning the proper mechanics of technique.
2. To paraphrase the best explanation I have heard, kata is learning the specific mechanics of body movement employed in technique; a key component in this explanation is the much of kata is conscious and precise movement. Waza is the natural expression of movement as an evolution of kata. In this sense kata is learning and waza is training.
3. I got nothing for this one. I believe that kata can be performed with a partner, but we also have exercises that can be performed solo. I don't know about whacking trees.

I wish I was more confident in this area. I have started looking into this aspect of aikido because it interests me as a point of education. I look forward to hearing what others have to say...

One of the funniest things I have heard said on the topic was, "How can [you] say [you're] doing kihon waza when [you] don't even know where [your] %#$&ing feet are supposed to go?"
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Old 12-01-2010, 02:45 PM   #5
lbb
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

Coming from a background in karate, I don't think that aikido has kata as other empty-hand martial arts understand it, although I have seen a few tai sabaki drills that sort of come close. Kihon is kihon, not kata, and kihon waza as Jon describes it is ippon kumite. Both are distinct from the practice of kata. The only place where I've seen kata in aikido is in weapons practice.
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Old 12-01-2010, 06:01 PM   #6
Randall Lim
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

Quote:
Alberto Italiano wrote: View Post
Given the incredible amount of intelligent ideas and outlooks we find in this forum, I would be interested in your ideas and experiences about katas - I am sure there are threads already about this topic, but rather than reviving something old maybe it's better a new thread so to locate more conveniently the contributions.

I'd articulate my question as follows:

1) Are there katas in aikido, and how do you suggest them to be done - and which ones? (suggestions, ideas welcome)

2) What is the purpose of katas?

3) katas "against" the void, or katas against objects? If one considers shaolin, you could kata to imitate the way of fighting of everyting, even of the rain - and you could or maybe even should kata against everything, included trees (the idea of fighting against an oak my seem preposterous, and yet we find sort of this world behind shaolin, apparently - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-bnC4iaslg ).

As for point 2, the question is not immaterial and less trivial it may seem.
Some martial arts are supposed to be without katas - that's not true, actually. Boxing is supposed to be without katas, but it's not the case - when your partner wears boxing pads on his hands and you produce combinations hitting those pads, that's katas indeed although the combative setting may disguise it: if kata means "shape" or "shilouette" (I think it may derive from the idea of shadows cast on the ground), that boxing (or... shadowboxing) training is by all accounts the reproduction of shapes.

Of course, katas are more apparent in their ideogram in martial arts like karate - which leads us to the question: what are katas for, considering that in a fight you will rarely see a "shape" as you see it in katas.

Aikido is more inclined to reproduce the ideogram of a kata also in a simulated fight, and this may lead to the idea that aikido "fights" may reproduce katas with fidelity - yet this depends on the fact ukes are often very stylized in their attacks and their incoming yokomenuchi or shomenuchi are far too mild - in a real fight your opponent would move very fast flashing both his arms in front of you at a high rated speed, and whenever an arm is grabbed s/he would attempt to subtract it from your hold with utter vehemence: once this more realistic setting is implemented, you will notice that also katas in aikido do not seem katas anymore.

Your opponent's arm slips off your hold, you get pushed and you can't always tenkan properly for your opponent has two arms and grabs you too and if you tenkan again he simply jumps along to be frontal immediately, unexpected weapons are suddenly produced, your nikkio may fail or your opponent may move fast and hard enough to remove his hand from your nikkio and at that point either you are ready to face another fresh confrontation (your opponent moves to face you squarely once again), or you fumble to keep an hold of his arm.
"Fumble" is the exact opposite of a kata - but the fact is, in a rough confrontation where a determined opponent really means to hit you on the nose repeatedly and where he jumps around without waiting for your technique, you do fumble at times.

At this point the question is legitimate: what katas are good for aikido, and what are katas for?

Last but not least: katas are about repetition. I assume the idea behind katas is that of attaining and ripening an innermost understanding of the logics of the art, indipendently of this or that technique, so that eventually you learn that in your martial art there is only _one_ technique.
But why is _repetition_ conducive to this, in your perception (provided in your opinion that's what katas are for, of course)?
In my opinion, our very own repetitive drills for any given Aikido technique IS kata. Kata need not always be performed alone. There are partner katas too (like our usual drills with a partner).

It is only in free practice (Randori) where Uke's attacks & Tori's counters are unspecific, that it is NOT kata.

Note that Aikido's Randori is not like Judo's Randori. Judo's Rabdori (free practice) is actually sparring, whereas Aikido's Randori still has the predetermined roles of Tori & Uke. The only undetermined part is the manner of Uke's attacks & Tori's counter.

In short, we have been doing Aikido Kata all along.
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Old 12-02-2010, 07:34 AM   #7
john.burn
 
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Coming from a background in karate, I don't think that aikido has kata as other empty-hand martial arts understand it, although I have seen a few tai sabaki drills that sort of come close. Kihon is kihon, not kata, and kihon waza as Jon describes it is ippon kumite. Both are distinct from the practice of kata. The only place where I've seen kata in aikido is in weapons practice.
Hi Mary,

Actually my late teacher developed a number of aikido kata performed by two people working together, a series of techniques that flow from one to the other where one person is uke and one person nage - they are great for working on blending / harmonising. I always enjoyed them and teach some of them in my own club as one of the grading requirements.

Best Regards,
John

www.chishindojo.co.uk
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Old 12-02-2010, 02:18 PM   #8
lbb
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

Quote:
John Burn wrote: View Post
Hi Mary,

Actually my late teacher developed a number of aikido kata performed by two people working together, a series of techniques that flow from one to the other where one person is uke and one person nage - they are great for working on blending / harmonising. I always enjoyed them and teach some of them in my own club as one of the grading requirements.
Yeah, that's pretty much exactly what ippon kumite is. Kata is different.
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Old 12-02-2010, 02:51 PM   #9
Richard Stevens
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

The style of Jujutsu I practice (Hakko-Ryu) relies heavily on paired kata to practice kihon-waza. The process is very regimented and our ability to perform them without mistakes is a big part of the grading requirements.

While it may be a stretch to refer to this method as kata in the Karate sense, it is certainly as systematic and concerned with internalization and the perfection of movement.

There are four basic sets (Shodan-Gi, Nidan-Gi, Sandan-Gi, Yondan-Gi) that contain around 20 techniques that must be practiced in a specific order.

The techniques of each set revolve around a certain type of "control" or "principle", which would be familiar to an Aikido practitioner. The first set involves Ikkyo-like techniques, Nikkyo in the second, Sankyo in the third, and obviously Yonkyo in the fourth. If anyone is actually interested in seeing these techniques I have video up on my group's website here.

By internalizing all the kihon-waza through paired kata, we hope to develop the ability to apply it effortlessly in oyo-waza and jiyu-waza/randori.

I have trained in a more free-form environment and I prefer this type of regimented structure. However, a more free-form environment may be more appropriate for someone else. Not everyone learns the same way.

It would be interesting to know if any Aikido dojos have utilized a method similar to this.
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Old 12-02-2010, 03:31 PM   #10
grondahl
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

Exactly why is that ippon kumite and not kata?

I thought that it was common practice in budo (except iaido) that kata is something that is done i pair, with an attacker and a defender, as in the Nage no kata in Judo...

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Yeah, that's pretty much exactly what ippon kumite is. Kata is different.
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Old 12-02-2010, 05:51 PM   #11
Janet Rosen
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

Mary, not having done karate, but having done some koryu kata, I'm not sure what there is in standardized aikido partner practice that suggests to you it doesn't qualify as kata?
Not arguing the point, trying to understand your definition.
Thanks

Janet Rosen
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"peace will enter when hate is gone"--percy mayfield
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Old 12-02-2010, 06:34 PM   #12
lbb
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

Quote:
Peter Gröndahl wrote: View Post
Exactly why is that ippon kumite and not kata?
I don't know why. I'm not the one who made up the terms or decided how to use them. All I know is that in karate, when two people are practicing an attack/defense/counterattack, that's called ippon kumite (or sanbon kumite if it's three step vs. one step). The word "kata" is always used to refer to a solo exercise. That was what training was like, pretty much every class: kihon, then ippon/sanbon kumite (and occasionally freesparring), then kata. OTOH, when I studied shindo muso ryu jodo, there was kihon and there was kata, and kata was always a partnered exercise, much like the kumitachi. My point was simply that within empty-hand styles, I don't think that the term "kata" is generally used for partner practice -- there's another word for that. In any case, I'm not sure why we would need to find something within aikido to call "kata". I guess you could say that aikido partner practice is like weapons kata, but it's not like other empty-hand kata.
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Old 12-03-2010, 01:08 AM   #13
Carsten Möllering
 
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
Coming from a background in karate, I don't think that aikido has kata as other empty-hand martial arts understand it,
That most people think of solo exercises when thinking of kata is a common misunderstanding:

Literally "kata" just means doing fixed forms instead of free work.
The term "kata" is commonly used for partner practice.
And all Japanese budo be it koryu or gendai budo is handed down and taught through (paired) kata.
(Please just take a look to some koryu taught in your neighborhoud or ask your teacher. This can just be a hint ...)

Quote:
Kihon is kihon, not kata.
But in Japanese it is called kihon no kata. And when we practice we often use the term kata. In most dojo I know aikido is practiced as kata.
I am aware that a lot of people don't call the prearanged practice of uke and nage kata because there is a whole lot of freedem in it. But just being prearanged makes it kata in the original sense.

Last edited by Carsten Möllering : 12-03-2010 at 01:13 AM.
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Old 12-03-2010, 10:14 AM   #14
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

In Japan, regular aikido practice is considered "kata-geiko".

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 12-03-2010, 03:04 PM   #15
Tatsukage
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

A quick thought about kata: Practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanence. In our dojo, we study by the rule of ten thousand, which says a single technique done one hundred times a day for one hundred days, and you will have perfected that technique. However, If you practice sloppy, your muscles will have retained the errors. In kata, it is better to practice on practice than practice perfection. Perfect practice will make perfect. That is why kata were retained for so long, and cultivated thoroughly. The goal is eventually to act and react as your own nature, instead of having to think of what to do in the given situation. IMHO, of course.
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Old 12-04-2010, 10:39 AM   #16
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

Kata is the principle.... Randori is the application
Practised in equal measure produces all round ability depending on Ryu....
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Old 12-09-2010, 02:14 PM   #17
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

I do not believe most aikido dojo participate in any form of kumite since kumite is more like sparring or fighting; too much sport... Randori is a good description for the loose pseudo-free-style interaction we have, maybe oyo waza for the serious folk.

That's not to say that our kihon waza does not have bunkai. But I think we sometimes confuse our kihon waza for bunkai, but since kihon waza is kata we actually are confusing our kata for bunkai...Huh? But that confusion is not specific to aikido and it is a long-standing problem with kata in other arts. Too much pretending for me... we already put on pajamas and play at beating each other up...

The old school's "kihon no kata" screws with us because it requires us to apply aiki in our kihon waza. Not to make light of the issue but that's tough - most of use can handle aiki exercise OR kata. Putting connection into our kata takes practice and does not yield 100% success rates. Doing the darn thing as waza to boot and that is not something we do in class every day.

As a personal project I am convinced that their competency in other arts is part of the puzzle about why Tohei and many of the other early shihan were so advanced after so little time with O'Sensei... O'Sensei never screwed with the kata and experience they brought from other arts. Oh, and these people also came with the internal strength conditioned from good kata. O'Sensei just taught them the connection (aiki) to prefix their kata and BAM, instant shihan. And not academic shihan, but "find a bar and kick a$$" shihan who tossed fighters like dolls.
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Old 12-09-2010, 02:41 PM   #18
ewolput
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

Tomiki Aikido is based upon 2 pilars : Randori and Kata.
Randori system is similar to judo randori, both have a chance to use a aikido technique which we can find in the basic kata, also known as Randori no kata. There is also a tanto- randori. Besides the basic kata, there are 6 koryu no kata, which are describing basically the techniques of prewar aikido or aikijutsu. One of the koryu no kata is about kuzushi and reflects the connection with Judo. Of course more explanation is needed to explain all of the koryu no kata

Eddy Wolput
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Old 12-10-2010, 07:57 AM   #19
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

Quote:
Eddy Wolput wrote: View Post
Tomiki Aikido is based upon 2 pilars : Randori and Kata.
Randori system is similar to judo randori, both have a chance to use a aikido technique which we can find in the basic kata, also known as Randori no kata. There is also a tanto- randori. Besides the basic kata, there are 6 koryu no kata, which are describing basically the techniques of prewar aikido or aikijutsu. One of the koryu no kata is about kuzushi and reflects the connection with Judo. Of course more explanation is needed to explain all of the koryu no kata

Eddy Wolput
www.shobukai.be
http://tomiki-aikido.wikispaces.com/
Nice quote Eddy well put.....

Do you remember Haba Itsuo San? He came to visit me last August gone and we found the clip you put up on Picasa

http://picasaweb.google.com/eddy.wol...77479432657602

He was quite surprised!! He didn't realise he'd become so famous!!
Laughs all round
Found these and sent them to his email....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGR_6z_1xwE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dt32EV92RY

He jokingly replied the make up wasn't up to scratch Ha ha!!

Typical of him....
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Old 12-11-2010, 03:18 AM   #20
ewolput
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

When Haba san stayed in my house end seventies he tried to teach us the kata of Tomiki Aikido, but at the end it was always "please study the basics" and then he showed us the 8 tekubi waza and everybody was puzzled. Some years ago, again he did a seminar about the basics......8 tekubi waza and .....everybody was frustrated. I have somewhere a videoclip of him, winning the All Workers Championship in Japan after he returned from the UK.
Although he is a good example how to do Tomiki Aikido Randori, he is also a fantastic person to do kata demonstrations. I saw him doing koryu no kata dai go, very soft and fluid and very fast, after the demonstration the uke was exhausted, it was the same as doing a randori match.
Returning to the original subject of this thread, kata and kihon are not the same, as Ohba sensei said one time, kata is teaching you the different opportunities and the method to create combinations, kihon is teaching you the basics to understand the kata.
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Old 12-11-2010, 05:41 AM   #21
Tony Wagstaffe
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Re: Your thoughts on katas

Quote:
Eddy Wolput wrote: View Post
When Haba san stayed in my house end seventies he tried to teach us the kata of Tomiki Aikido, but at the end it was always "please study the basics" and then he showed us the 8 tekubi waza and everybody was puzzled. Some years ago, again he did a seminar about the basics......8 tekubi waza and .....everybody was frustrated. I have somewhere a videoclip of him, winning the All Workers Championship in Japan after he returned from the UK.
Although he is a good example how to do Tomiki Aikido Randori, he is also a fantastic person to do kata demonstrations. I saw him doing koryu no kata dai go, very soft and fluid and very fast, after the demonstration the uke was exhausted, it was the same as doing a randori match.
Returning to the original subject of this thread, kata and kihon are not the same, as Ohba sensei said one time, kata is teaching you the different opportunities and the method to create combinations, kihon is teaching you the basics to understand the kata.
I know what you mean, the essence of Shodokan........He has vast technical ability and I think it is wasted on some, including me sometimes, ha ha! But that's the guy. He laughs when I ask him if his legs are made of rubber.....

I would love to see those clips of him winning that one.... He mentioned it to me a few years back and said " I won the veterans championships (I forget which year) aren't I lucky... I am still young!!

He's quite the comic when you get to know him, always gentle but can turn it on at will.....

I'm going over next May and hope to meet up with him and get some practice in while there, I only have a month, and the missus wants to see Nippon, not the insides of dojo's.... compromises compromises.....

Take care......

Tony
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