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Role of Kata
Village Old Timer
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An article from
http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=85

Quote:
Kuroda Sensei, do your thoughts concerning kata derive from the classical martial arts or are they uniquely your own?
Kuroda Sensei: I think it would be to correct to say that they are unique to me. I could not get anyone to teach me the things I most wanted to know when I was practicing kata. However, it is only that I, a modern person, have explained the traditional kata using modern terminology. The kata themselves have been preserved in exactly their original form. Also, when I became able to see those invisible things, I think I was actually able to see more clearly what the samurai devoted their lives to because the kata were retained in their original form.

The kata which were transmitted to me—for example, the kenjutsu kata—are not like what one sees commonly these days where the opponent waits, exposing his head, neck, and body, and where one strikes his stopped sword. I may be stating it inappropriately, but in simple terms, that kind of swordwork is just a flashy display. The instant the sword and body of my opponent move, my sword has already cut him through.

If you think about it carefully, isn’t it obvious? No one would actually stand and wait for his head to be cut. The kata I was taught were to be practically applied. If you failed to parry the opponent’s sword, his sword would strike your body. When I was a boy and asked someone to be my uke—even when I would ask him to strike slowly—his movement was so fast for someone like me that I was quite tense.

Originally, kata training with a partner was conducted in a world where you didn’t get a second chance if you couldn’t parry the attack. It was a world where you couldn’t offer excuses and say, “Let me do it again,” if you made a mistake. Doing things properly in martial arts practice is exactly the same as behaving properly in modern society. Learning not to repeat mistakes or not to offer excuses in kata practice is to have absolute confidence in your own techniques, abilities, and skills. Although that level of confidence might appear to be the maximum for your present level, it might be considered a low level if it is viewed relatively. Such absolute confidence is necessary at all levels of martial arts training. In other words, you must completely trust in yourself. There is nothing other than what you can do yourself.

In kata training, the person in the role of uke is always the senior partner. When training alone you may think that what you are doing is satisfactory, but when your back and shoulder are cut and you are warned of the distorted movement in your body when your opponent parries your sword, you have to realize that if it were an actual situation you would be cut and die. No excuses can be accepted in training where your very life is at stake.

That’s how my father would explain things to me when he raised me. It is possible to perform kata training alone. When your ability has progressed to the point that you can no longer see bad points in your movements, you ask a senior to teach you by receiving your uke. Then you can advance to the next level and the next. As a result the kata becomes faster and faster. Movements executed at a speed visible to the eye become invisible and a speed involving no movement evolves. A gradual change in the ability of your eyes to see and the quality of your movements occurs as you continue to progress in kata training. This is why the samurai were able to stake their lives on it.


My ideas about kata are almost exactly the same. But, in the Bujinkan we for the most part can't do the kata this way.

Everyone moves too differently to make it practical to do so.

Posted on: 2010/6/16 16:00
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Re: Role of Kata
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Brilliant post.

Posted on: 2010/6/16 16:24
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Re: Role of Kata
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Thank you for sharing this article. Kuroda is extremely good and a great ideal for perfection.


Posted on: 2010/6/16 16:27
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Re: Role of Kata
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Quote:
Now let’s consider the concept of kata from the jujutsu standpoint. Training begins from a seated position which is called idori or etori. In the first kata there are many steps in our movements compared to aikido techniques and it takes a long time to get to the point of throwing our opponent. Therefore, young people, especially, when watching our training express doubts and say things like, “If you were to move that slowly you wouldn’t be able to respond fast enough in a real situation, would you?” or “Wouldn’t it be more effective to train to deal with punches and kicks from the beginning?”
Of course, it is natural for people in general not to understand the meaning of these kata. Also, even if we consider the old Japanese lifestyle where people spent a great deal of time in a seated position, does it make sense to think that in a world dominated by swords someone who is seated could be grabbed by the lapel and attacked with a dagger? It is natural to wonder whether they seriously practiced such techniques at a time when the reign of sword was absolute. Even today, the kata really seem to be quite unrealistic and useless.

I take a common sense viewpoint with respect to these kinds of kata. In other words, I believe that kata are not substitutes for actual fighting. If there were such a thing as kata that can be used in a real situation, I would like to see them. I think that it was in this sense that Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei used to say that one should not attach too much importance to kata. However, this is something that only a man of his stature, who has already reached that level, can say. We ordinary people would lose all clues about how to execute real techniques if we were to reject the kata.
Now, I would like to explain what we are attempting to learn in the kata we practice where the opponent attacks by seizing our lapel and attempts to cut our right carotid artery with a dagger held in his right hand. The opponent comes to cut my neck on the right side with his dagger. In this situation, the movement required is to avoid his attack by withdrawing my right shoulder while remaining facing toward the opponent without breaking my center line.


A bit more from the article, and how one should view kata training. I seriously think this is the best approach to teaching and learning the kata of any school. However, in the Bujinkan most spend very little time with learning how to use our muscles properly within the kata. As if the kata in the Bujinkan has something to do with fighting technique. The kata my have certain basic techniques, but those should be trained under various conditions, outside the kata.

Henka also will naturally come out of the kata, but if we spend to much time in henka- land what happens to the kata.

Some say that the Bujinkan is only what works and what ever works is Bujinkan training. I happen to disagree.

The Bujinkan is headed by Soke and what he is doing now is far beyond what anyone of us can do right now.

We have to seek our own progression from beginner to his level. We shouldn't attempt short cuts.

In my opinion our training should consist of first the basics of the Tenchijin, under various conditions i.e. differing versions of randori and non-compliant training.

Kata training using proper distance and timing ( this is the most difficult in the bujinkan no one seems to punch remotely the same or at the right kinds of targets. Some punch 2 feet past the person, some a foot before the person some in a right hook formation. This makes most kata training fruitless.)

Letting henka freely come out of the kata.

Also there is the progression of Shu Ha Ri that is important. There isn't a need to hurry.

"A rush for a win, will bring a loss".


Posted on: 2010/6/16 16:45
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Re: Role of Kata
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I belive someone has said, "don't copy the master, copy the process".

Kata are tools to teach us the concepts and principles of our art, so IMO neglecting kata is neglecting the art. This kind of bridge my thoughts concerning the "ranking tread" as a neglected area. Everybody wants to jump to henka (or rather doing their own individual stuff).

Posted on: 2010/6/16 18:56
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Re: Role of Kata
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I would have to agree with you. I also, like you, see how it should reflect one's rank and a ranking system one ought to use.

I think it will end up happening one day. All it takes are a few practioners to agree to begin seriously looking at the art, and study it to it's fullest and transmitting that method to their students.

In the beginning of a lot of the shihans' training, it was all kihon under pressure then it moved towards the kata into what it is today.
There is something to learn from this, I think. Finding it will be difficult however.

Posted on: 2010/6/16 19:12
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Re: Role of Kata
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Yes, I think that change is already in process. More and more see the need for structure and core, and when they get hands-on experience with proficient instructors and see and more important feel, the treasure buried in that study, they are bound to change. Otherwise they are openly fooling themselves and will fade quickly away.

It is facinating how the art can be "hidden in plain site"

For the fear of profiling my self as someone with this kind of knowledge and skills, I am not! I am but a simple student fumbling in the arts. But I have met instructors with this quality and it has opened my eyes to a new world. Hence, I consider myself a beginner - taking a fresh new beginning.

Posted on: 2010/6/16 22:26
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Re: Role of Kata
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I feel the same way. I think we can have both structure and feeling. Chaos and order at the same time.

Posted on: 2010/6/16 22:40
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Re: Role of Kata
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Just to make myself clear on feeling - I am not talking about the typical "capture the feeling" idea that often are talked about when people have visited Japan or such.
More along the feeling as described by Kuroda in the interview.

Posted on: 2010/6/16 22:49
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Re: Role of Kata
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Is there another type? I think Hatsumi sensei and Kuroda sensei are talking basically about the same thing.


Posted on: 2010/6/16 23:12
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