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Old 08-09-2005, 03:19 PM   #26
Keith R Lee
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

And just to cross-pollinate things further, here's part of my post from the BJJ vs Aikido thread because it applies here as well. (slightly modified to fit this thread)

I think the big problem is that when one never engages in competition, and trains only in cooperative practice or kata, one begins to make assumptions of what will happen in a real physical encounter. And as it's said: "Assumption is the mother of all &%#@-ups."

As an extreme example take France after WWI. They were still so frightened by Germany even though they won they built the Maginot Line. The Maginot LIne was a series of outposts, canons, tank obstecles, etc. along the French-German border. The idea was that the Line would provide France a strong defense against any invading German army and allow them time in which to deal with the invading army. The only problem is that France built the Line across the entire border except along the Ardennes Forest which the French assumed to be impenatrable.

Guess what happened?

The Germans blasted right though the Ardennes and went right around the entire Line, rendering it useless. The French were still under the assumption that the static (dead, not live) and entirely defensive combat that had worked so well in WWI would continue to work well. However, the Germans had learned from their mistakes, adapted, and had moved on. Hence, the new German military doctrine of "blitzkreig" or "lightning war" (Man, the Prussians were really good at war. Sorry, I'm a bit of a military history dork) in which they used speed and shock to prevent opponents from providing a stable defense.

And guess what? Any martial art without resistant, "live" training or one that relies solely on kata, like many Aikido dojos, are the Maginot Line of martial arts. If something comes at a student, who has never engaged in "live" training, in the way they assume things are going to happen then they will probably have a reasonable answer/defense. However, as soon as something else happens; some different variable is entered into the equation that they have never dealt with, their assumptions are going to be shattered and the student is going to be blitzkreig'ed.

Now some new stuff.

The way I have encountered Aikido being practiced is many dojos really amounts to little more than paired kata. Both uke and shite have a defined role in the technique. That's fine for basics and learning basic form. Even after years of practice it's good to go back to basics and practice basic forms. However, never moving beyond kata to "live" training results in never having any real knowledge of what will happen when movements from a kata are applied in a fully resistant and opposing environment.

Focusing on kata alone is dead training.

Keith Lee
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Old 08-09-2005, 03:22 PM   #27
DustinAcuff
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

My belief about kata have to do with battle preperation. Kata are built on individual techniques or patterns of movement. You could potentially teach techniques faster through hours of kata. Kata could be practiced for hours which would provide physical conditioning and coordination specific to the movements used in battle and teach the student to go into a far away place inside their head. Kata would probably instil a certain ammount of discipline into the student that would be required to carry out any battle plans or deal with unexpected problems. These things combined could allow mushin to take over. Many kata could familiarize students with diffrent techniques and movement patterns.

Everything there could be done any number of ways. But kata seem to be a good foundation from which to do so in one simple thing.

Personally I am not a kata fan. I get bored too easily. But they do have their place.
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Old 08-09-2005, 03:41 PM   #28
jss
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Assuming we're only talking about solo-katas,
I think their value lies in reducing practice to the absolute minimum, by taking away the opponent. You do not have to worry about timing, the correct angle, ... You can focus on your movements and on any aspect of those movements you feel like focussing on. So after your body has learned the movements, you can focus on speed or power or foot placement or whatever. And the internal [suggestions for better word are welcome] qualities of your movements are all you need to worry about.
Of course, it's also possible to do your kata as a pre-programmed robot and learn nothing whatsoever. So as soon as you have memorized the kata, it is time to learn and practice the applications. And for these duo-katas the same thing holds true: you can practice them as a mindless robot or you can try to learn something.

And one other good thing about katas: you can do them all by yourself! If you have two weeks to prepare for a competion or something and you have limited access to training partners, better kata training than no training. (Question: better do kata training than conditioning? Depends on the event, I guess.)
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Old 08-09-2005, 03:42 PM   #29
Roy
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

For me, kata is like Tai-chi. Doing the moves slowly can link vital strengths of you body. By vital strengths I mean breathing properly within the technique, rooting oneself and remaining calm, etc... not to mention its good for the health
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Old 08-09-2005, 06:50 PM   #30
CNYMike
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Although the merits of drawbacks of kata and other formalized cooperative training methods can -- and have -- been debated to death ("I surived the RMA kata flame war of '97 and all I got this joke about saying all I got was a lousy t-shirt"), at the end of the day, it doesn't matter.

If you are in an art that does forms, you are going to do forms. You'd BETTER do them if you know what's good for you! And if you hate doing them, you either grit your teeth and bear it because you love the art more than you love the forms; or you switch to something else.

Debate is all well and good and healthy, but from a practical standpoint, you do what the person in charge of your class tells you to do. The End.
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Old 08-09-2005, 07:17 PM   #31
Charles Hill
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Quote:
Dustin Acuff wrote:
Personally I am not a kata fan.
Hi Dustin,

On another thread you mention that you train full time in Daito Ryu. I thought that Daito Ryu taught only kata. What kind of non-kata training does your Daito Ryu school do?

Thanks,
Charles
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Old 08-09-2005, 08:20 PM   #32
DustinAcuff
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Lol. I don't know any Daito Ryu kata. We just practice techniques off of attacks. Formal randori is pretty rare but we are encouraged to mix it up any time we want to. We also train vs. handheld weapons, improvised weapons, firearms, blindfolded, in diffrent environments (offices, stairs, bathrooms), multiple attackers, on the ground, in cars, and pretty much anything else or place that we can think up. The more advanced guys get full blown attacks and use live blades (knives, katana, whatever).

I am definately not in a traditional koryu school. I cannot speak for Daito training at large, but the techniques and application are the same or a step beyond the norm.
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Old 08-09-2005, 08:20 PM   #33
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

So do both in the right balance.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-09-2005, 10:13 PM   #34
Eric_Aiki
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Hi all-

There are alot of far more experienced Aikidoka here than I, but this thread reminded me of an insight I had in class recently.

Disclaimer - I hae only been training for... 3 weeks or so. Weve done a little Bokken work, some forms there, which allowed me to focus more on my own body position and less on position relative to an Uke. This helped me to improve my slide step, slide turn and really helped my shihonage. The 180 turns with bokken really helped me internalize hand position on Shihonage, or at least to the point I understand the technique now (which is limited I am sure).

Before I get to my long winded point here - in class the other day I tried the kneeling/facing technique with two people (forgive me for being ignorant of the japanese name of this right now). I asked sensei after class what the application was - I could only think of two people bowin to each other in a kneeling position, then getting into some argument - seems silly, I know. He laughed, and said that the point of the technique was rather an exercise, not a real world useable technique.

This is kind of how I think of kata - nobody is going to attack or defend themselves with Kata alone, but they can be a tool to improving ones technique. Theyve been helping me at the basic stuff. Tools to learn by, I suppose.

Mind that I only have a few weeks Aikido experience, my opinions are going to change several times over the next few years I am sure.

Thanks for hearing my opinion,

Eric
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Old 08-10-2005, 12:38 AM   #35
Sonja2012
 
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Quote:
Eric Tuthill wrote:
nobody is going to attack or defend themselves with Kata alone, but they can be a tool to improving ones technique.
I couldn´t agree more.

Part of our shodan test is what we call aiki no kata, a kata that includes all pinning techniques from ikkyo to gokyo, performed with a partner. I have been practicing this kata for the past months as my test is coming up and while I would agree that it certainly does not improve my spontaneous reaction in an attack, I still have learned an incredible amount about the performed thechniques. Which will in turn improve my technique in a spontaneous attack, as I feel much stronger about my technique and through that am less nervous.
This kata focuses a lot on keeping maximum control all the way through and shows you straight away if you don´t have that control. For me, it has been a great tool for learning.
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Old 08-10-2005, 01:56 AM   #36
Jorx
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Well paired kata is still only prearranged movements. I do not doubt that there are people who have positive experience from kata and to whom it has been a useful tool. The question is weather there is something unique in kata which makes it unreplaceable with more modern methods for these goals?
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Old 08-10-2005, 02:06 AM   #37
PeterR
 
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Well a rose by any other name smells just as sweet.

Kata = Drills

Some drills more closely resemble the actual even they are trying to train for, others are less obvious. Properly chosen kata/drills coupled with randori/alive training in the right balance you will have positive benefit. I really can't think of any modern sport that does not incorporate some sort of technical breakdown training.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-10-2005, 02:23 AM   #38
Jorx
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Yes there's drills and there's drills. The difference is that kata is predetermined stimulus resulting in predetermined answer. The kata is something (especially the solo kata) where you endlessly perfect a given form. The drills on the other hand are usually very quickly increasing the resistance and the amount of variables and "whatever works" principle.

So we might make the terminology difference between predetermined/dead/noresistance drills like kata/chi sao/hubud/mindless combinations on pads in kickboxing class AND chaotic resistance/alive drills.
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Old 08-10-2005, 02:34 AM   #39
PeterR
 
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Quote:
Jorgen Matsi wrote:
Yes there's drills and there's drills. The difference is that kata is predetermined stimulus resulting in predetermined answer. The kata is something (especially the solo kata) where you endlessly perfect a given form. The drills on the other hand are usually very quickly increasing the resistance and the amount of variables and "whatever works" principle.
You've just described the Shodokan Aikido training method.

Kata and Randori together - with everything in between.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-10-2005, 02:57 AM   #40
Jorx
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

That's great
You do not happen to have any online clips do you?

Too bad all the aikido I've seen in my 6 years incl. about 5 Hombu Dojo instructors and Finnish instructors never practiced the "inbetween" and in most places even randori was done with "kata" mindset.
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Old 08-10-2005, 03:07 AM   #41
PeterR
 
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Well for the kata go here and for the randori go here.

For the stuff in between not really but it really is self evident and I have been to several non-Shodokan dojos that do similar in between stuff.

Be warned that the randori links have a weird browser problem.
If you replace the %5C with a backslash it will work.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 08-10-2005, 03:19 AM   #42
Jorx
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Thanks Peter it was really interesting. Will write my thoughts about it later.
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Old 08-10-2005, 06:03 AM   #43
deepsoup
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Quote:
Joep Schuurkes wrote:
Assuming we're only talking about solo-katas
It seems to me that some are, others aren't, and a few don't know the difference. That would probably account for some of the confusion on this thread.

Quote:
Jorx wrote:
The difference is that kata is predetermined stimulus resulting in predetermined answer. The kata is something (especially the solo kata) where you endlessly perfect a given form. The drills on the other hand are usually very quickly increasing the resistance and the amount of variables and "whatever works" principle.
And yet the concept of an excercise that nominally remains the same but is practiced on different levels really isn't that unusual.

Kihon practices for example, like kihon dosa in Yoshinkan, are nominally the same excercise whether its a 5th kyu practicing them or a 5th dan. And yet you know the more experienced person is practicing that basic exercise on an entirely different level.

Its like a fractal, the closer you look (the closer you are able to look) the more detail there is to see. As you move beyond merely trying to remember the sequence of a formal paired kata, its time to get the broad body movements right. When they're down pat, you begin to realise your posture sucks, and some of the details are wrong. Spend a while correcting that, and you notice that your timing isn't quite right. And so it goes on. You see what I mean?

I guess what I'm getting at is that making a drill incrementally more complicated and 'free' is one way to push your technique forward.
Thats perfectly valid, in fact where I practice we have a quite structured approach to randori that does exactly that.

But theres also the challenge of working on essentially the same kata at incrementally higher levels of understanding.

It could be that there's a limit to that latter approach, maybe you reach a point where you understand the kata perfectly and there's nothing more to learn from it. Shu ha ri and all that.
I wouldn't know from personal experience, I don't think I train seriously enough that I'm likely to find out before I'm too old to do it any more.

Sean
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Old 08-10-2005, 06:24 AM   #44
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

FWIW and IMNSHO:

In most Japanese budo, kata is the core training methodology, augmented, by jiyu-waza and/or randori.

Kata, in this sense, are not the solo patterns used in many of the p/k systems (i.e.; Okinawan karate or Chinese wu shu). Kata is, rather, a patterned interaction between partners that is designed to teach timing, distancing, rhythm, etc. It can encompass almost any type of practice wherein one partner makes a specific attack and the other responds in a specific manner. It can be completely formal, with its own reishiki and detailed script of behaviors (for instance, the kata 'Ippon Dori' in Daito Ryu) , or it can be as simple as a call-and-response practice of a specific technique (such as 'OK, now we're going to do ryote-dori kote gaeshi omote ...').

Most aikido training, then, falls into the kata category.

Supplemental training methodologies, such as ippon- or sanbon-kumite in p/k arts or jiyu-waza and randori in judo and aikido, expand and illuminate the core principles and methodologies contained within the system's kata/waza, by creating the illusion of unscripted combative interaction.

Many budo systems rely solely on kata-based training, others utilize more free-play training, once the student has been taught the basics (which are almost ALWAYS taught as kata).

Chuck

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Old 08-10-2005, 06:27 AM   #45
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Addendum: In aikido systems such as Yoshinkan, wherein there is a discrete set of exercises designed to be performed solo, that teach the basics of movement, the term 'undo' more properly describes the activity, rather than 'kata'. (Again IMHO ...)

Chuck

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Old 08-10-2005, 06:42 AM   #46
Jorx
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

IMO Shu Ha Ri is a counterproductive approach in MA learning and belongs to the history books alongside other interesting japanese cultural phenomenons.
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Old 08-10-2005, 07:08 AM   #47
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Quote:
Jorgen Matsi wrote:
IMO Shu Ha Ri is a counterproductive approach in MA learning and belongs to the history books alongside other interesting japanese cultural phenomenons.
Why?
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Old 08-10-2005, 07:37 AM   #48
Jorx
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Simply because there are better methods. (If the goal of course is practical fighting ability in our objective physical reality).
The "breaking" from form and thinking for oneself must begin from day one.

Form must follow function (in this case the practical output/outcome of/by an individual being).

I cannot say if this will take oneself to a different point than "traditional" training in let's say 25-35 years. What I CAN say is that it will take people in 3 months more far in their understanding AND ability than "traditional" training in years.

All of this my personal experience (learning and teaching, Aikido and MMA) and view of course but there are quite many who share it.
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Old 08-10-2005, 07:56 AM   #49
Chuck.Gordon
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

Quote:
Jorgen Matsi wrote:
Simply because there are better methods. (If the goal of course is practical fighting ability ...
Agreed. For the scant few people who really, truly, need to learn practical close quarters combatives, yes, there are better and faster methods.

However, we're talking about aikido, yes?

Quote:
is that it will take people in 3 months more far in their understanding AND ability than "traditional" training in years.
Depends on what the 'goal' is and what abilities and understanding they are seeking. I've been doing budo and other martial sports (was doing MMA before it was called that, BTW) for 30+ years, and spent quite a bit of time haring off after some wondrous combat effectiveness.

Probably found it (I've survived a misspent youth, stints as cop and soldier, and some 48 years of living in total, at any rate), but also learned that practical ability in real combatives can be attained more easily through non-traditional methods (though when you do that, you aren't doing budo), and that diligent, dedicated training IN trad. budo can provide internal AND external understandings and abilities that quick and dirty CQB training cannot.

As I said, it all depends on what you want. If you want CQB, trad. budo's not the place to look.

Chuck

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Old 08-10-2005, 08:00 AM   #50
rob_liberti
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Re: Kata Training and Aikido

I think we all agree that 100% resistance cannot work, and 100% non-resistance cannot work. Are we just finding new ways to say that? If so, let's move on unless someone thinks the absolute ends of the spectrum are the only correct way.

I believe that all kata is supposed to evolve into live understanding. I think "dead kata" is pretty much missing the point no matter what system you are in.

Where I see kata as pretty good is if you are teaching 60 people something new and a bit dangerous - especially weapons, you can't show them all a few moves and then say go for it! 2 people would die, 12 people would be seriously injured, etc... So you make kata, get everyone _basically_ on the same page, and go around to the majority of the sempai and get their kata to be more alive and let the trickle down thing happen as you change partners.

I don't know the shu ha ri thing that well. I think I'm just starting to really get into the ha level, and I really have no idea what I'm in for in the ri level. So I guess I'll comment about it further when I know what I'm talking about... As I see it, you know in basketball when you play HORSE (or PIG) and someone makes a crazy shot, and then you have to make the same shot or you get a letter. I'm starting to feel that way about most aikido seminars. I kind of feel like the teacher does some technique (regardless of what style of aikido) and I just try to copy them. If we were playing HORSE I think I would win many games. But, just like someone who could win every game of HORSE and still not be a great basketball player (although probably a good shot maker when there is no one between them and the net) I kind of feel the same way about aikido. I think I have a lot of skills to actually put together and relatively few seminars that I've ever been to work on that part. I suppose it's up to the individual to come up with the next level of drills and get even much more alive training, but it would be nice to see a developed system for that out specifically coming from a hombu style background.

Rob
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