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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Thoughts on the benefits of kata

Gichin Funakoshi wrote Karate Jutsu in the 1920's.  It was an early draft, and even Funakoshi considered it flawed apparently.

"In the old days all of this (training) was kept very secret, but around 1901-02 doctors who had been marveling at the fine muscular development of the primary school students and new military recruits they had been examining attributed their superior physical shape to karate.  Soon karate was incorporated into the physical education departments of normal and middle schools, and it finally made its public appearance in the world...Over a dozen years ago, when Shintaro Ogawa was still and 'Okinawan Prefectural School Superintendent, based on his investigation of the results of physical examinations of students and military conscripts, he concluded that the principal common denominator among those with superior physical builds was karate practice.  Moreover he discovered that this was true even among those who had practiced only a very short time..."

The primary method of training, according to Funakoshi, was kata.  Interestingly enough, even when the kata changed (for example when Heian became Pinan) the original forms were still retained and recorded for history.  The kata have continued to evolve, but the history is there.

As a physical exercise, kata had many of the advantages of dance.  Funakoshi actually talks about the Okinawan culture and history of dance and compares it favorably to karate practice.  It is a healthy and health promoting training method that does not always require a training partner or special equipment.

Kata are also a connection to history.  Shodokan's Goshin No Kata was apparently developed by Kenji Tomiki and one of his students, Hideo Ohba.  Goshin no Kata is an abridged form of Koryu Dai San, a kata that is one of six Koryu kata - and these six are not the whole system either.  

I met a teacher that did not teach suwariwaza.  It is included. 

Are weapons part of aikido?  Some will say no, but it's here. 

I was told (not by Sensei, but by multiple teachers) it was traditional that all techniques ended with a kneeling pin - and here is a time capsule that shows a wide variety of controls including leg locks, standing pins, and pins done from one knee. 

Some will say aikido does not contain strikes, but they are here. 

There are specific names for many movements that some teachers will say have "no names" or fall under "kokyunage."

In non-kata driven aikido, any of these topics can be controversial. 

1 comment:

  1. This is very interesting John. As I think you may know, I've stopped learning Aikido and have been learning Karate for teh last year or so. One problem I always had with Aikido was that I couldn't find a way to practise it effectvely between lessons; so I used to content myself with working on my fitness and flexibility through completely distinct activities such as yoga classes. But now I have kata in my life, it has answered all those questions, and I definitely feel more satisfied as a result . . .