View Full Version : taking notes

4th April 2002, 01:06
I (very) recently started taking jujutsu, and found a need to somehow document the stuff that I try to learn (I forget things easily).

So I was thinking to try and write everything down, describe it as best possible, but I don't know how. From past experience the notes I take on certain things later on don't even make sense to me, and I find drawing stick figures to be fairly challenging in the art department.

Anybody have hints, pointers, or even a system of documentation/notation for moves? Any ideas on how to come up with such a system?

-Charles Lockhart

Neil Hawkins
4th April 2002, 11:36

I know what you mean, my notes are indecipherable to all, including myself! :)

I have found however that the best way for me to remember anything is to write things down long hand immediately after the class. I then practice the movement, refining the description until it makes sense to me. Pictures are really good, but like you my ability to draw is limited, so I usually stay with words unless I can find a picture in a book or something that I photocopy and then write notes in the margins.

Here's an example of one of my notes, taken from the kihon of Shindo Muso Ryu:


From the Tsune no Kamae, step slightly left with the left foot, bring the Jo across and grasp it in the left hand. The Jo should be horizontal in front of the body, the left hand at the tip and the right hand in the centre. Step forward with the right foot and turn the body 45° to the left, the stick is brought up, the right hand level with and close to the eyes, the left hand behind and above the head, so the Jo points down at around 15° and is in line with the hips and shoulders at 45° to the right of centre, ideally the tip should still be pointed at the opponents eyes. You are blocking a downwards cut at the opponent’s hands. Once you’ve blocked push up and forward in a circular direction (a rowing motion) ending with both your hands at thigh to knee level, you are in a fairly deep kibadachi. Trap your opponents sword between his body and your jo. To disengage your opponent steps back, once clear you bring the tip up and train it on his eyes, pivot your hips to face him and allow the right hand to pivot over the Jo into Honte no Kamae.

Finish the technique by returning to Tsune no Kamae, don't forget to step back to the right to get back on the centre line. Then repeat from the beginning, only the right side is practiced.

Of course you still have to understand the motion to be able to use the text, otherwise it appears to be a sequence rather than one fluid motion. But as a memory prompter it works for me.

I should stress again that this is only used as a reminder for myself, it is not used for instruction and any mistakes are my own.



4th April 2002, 15:22
Hi all,
Regarding note taking...The best way to work it out that I found was after being shown the technique practise as much as possible..Try to get a feel for the movement. When you think you have it take notes on the most vital points of the movement..ie; "Sink here", "Starting in Daijodan no Kamae cut down" etc..What you are aiming at is something that makes your body 'remember' the moves you did in class at a later date..While simultaneously NOT wasting your class time writing the things down.
What you want to write down are the 'joggers' for the movement..I have found that once I am shown a technique and have practised it well it is best remembered by the few statements in my notebook..I struggle with a few of them but once the initial moves are worked out I can (Usually) remember the full waza..Note taking in class for me is only focussed on the essentials and the comments made by my Sensei regarding what I SHOULD be trying to do..That works best for me.
At a later stage and once you can talk through the techniques in simple and understandable english then write them down and store them in your folder...As Neil said.
It aint easy...Stick to the basics and rather than writing PRACTISE the moves until you can be jogged into the form by the first few steps..My own 2 Yens worth on this one!

Mark Barlow
6th April 2002, 16:47
Think of notes as long-term investments. I've kept notebooks since the mid 70s and find that what didn't make much sense to me as a beginner is often enlightening with a bit more experience under my obi. My notes and the handouts my Sensei gave me have helped me over more than one hurdle when it came to understanding a technique.

Upon my Sensei's passing, his son gave me Sensei's notebooks, some dating to the late 50's. As much as I treasure them for the physical connection they offer, they are priceless as a source of insight into both the techniques and Sensei's interpretation and intent.

It is Akayama-Ryu's policy to give new students a ring-binder notebook to hold the handouts we give and we urge them to update the notebook with their own input and views.

John Lindsey
6th April 2002, 19:22
Try to come up with your own way of taking notes so that it is faster. For instance:

RHP right hand punch
LK left kick

KMD kata mune dori
SNK seigan no kamae

If it is something the Uke is doing, (RHP, LK, etc) I underline it.

I take "notes" during the class, then get back home on my PC and make it as detailed as possible while it is fresh in my mind.

8th April 2002, 07:59
Take a look at this site and you can see how they have presented their ideas on kata (Note especially the table or 'quick key'). Jo-Kata, Seidokan (http://sdksupplies.netfirms.com/jodokatasamp/Jodokt1.htm)

(Of course a digital camera can help too ;))

George Ricard

Vincent Azanza
8th April 2002, 10:44
:wave: Charles- I have been training with my instructor for the past 6 years and I have notes since the first week that I trained with him. I think it is a valuable tool in helping you remember techniques and to stir your imagination on coming up with slight variations, combinations, and counters.

Here are a few things that I do with mine:
1) Date them
2) Write down which techniques were covered during that training session. eg. ogoshi, ippon seionage, juji-shime, sankaku-jime
3) Describe the attack to myself so that I can imagine the motion in my mind. eg. attack from double lapel grab: lower center of gravity, step back with left leg 90 degrees, reach over with the right hand and grab opponent's right wrist,...
4) Categorize it as a new technique, a variation of an older technique, a counter, a set up for another technique, and so on.
5) How can I apply this technique on the ground or standing.
6) Draw stick figures if it helps in the explanation of the technique
7) Most importantly I try to review my notes as much as possible. Notice I said try, I have been pretty lazy about it lately. I review a few pages from my most recent entries and then a few pages from very early entries.

Remember that your notes only need to make sense to yourself, so don't make it harder than it actually is. In conjuction with studying my notes I also look at books for variations of techniques, not to learn new ones, but to improve my current ones. Good Luck! Cheers ! :toast:

-Vincent Azanza
Train Hard, Eat Plenty!

Joel Simmons
20th April 2002, 02:43

I guess I have the luxury of being one of two students that my sensei has, so I figure its not a waste of time when he stops and lets me write everything down.

I usually try to copy exactly what he shows me out of his notes. Usually something describing what the attacker's movements are on one line. Then, the next line, would be the defense or whatever counterattack is available, etc., etc.

After class and on off-days I usually try to review and practice the movements. Then, if I'm feeling particularly artistic, I'll try and draw some decent diagrams when I have the time.

Since it seems you may not have the ability to run and write things down during your class, I suggest you do it right afterwards. I don't know how individual senseis would react to this, but maybe you could ask some questions after your class (if he/she doesn't have another class waiting) as to the details or a quick review of what you just learned. Some sensei frown at this, however, I've been fortunate enough to have sensei that are glad that someone is taking such an interest. In my experience in the two arts I've practiced, I was one of VERY few people who took notes on ANYTHING, let alone kata.

Hope this helps.

20th April 2002, 08:53
I find it helpful to write up the attack first, then the defence.

When you write up the attack, include the criteria as well. For instance, not just "Downwards Hit", but "From front: RH downwards hit to forehead, RL forward".

In writing up the defence, include the basics (body movement, unbalancing, technique), eg: "Entering body movement. Unbalance with LH outside deflection to A's RH elbow. Follow up with LF minor outside foot sweep to A's RF."