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Fred27
26th July 2007, 06:09
Greetings. For awhile I've been curious about how the different ryu perform their kata. More specifically the speed the kata are performed.

When one think of high-speed kata in koryu then one almost always think "Katori Shinto-ryu" as the tradition is known for it's relative high speed in excecution of kata. "Relative" in this case is relative to the other koryu arts. TSKSR have the distinction of being the oldest active heiho and that they have not "compromised" their teachings over the years where other ryu have. I do know that some ryu have different speeds for different kata and/or kata-series, but TSKSR seems to have "just" one speed.

So, is high speed kata something that has evolved (or devolved depending on point of view) into the modern, more slower (relative to TSKSR) performance that is found in the various koryu still active? Has there been such an evolution or has the speed been the same as when they were first concieved? I'm especially curious about the various Batto and Iai schools, (both independent ryu and the ones part of larger systems). In many kata of the koryu iai ryu I've seen (exception TSKSR) the speed has been alot slower...(again in relation to TSKR).

Has there been a concious slowing down of the systems, either in the Edo-period or the modern period as to accomodate the non-war state of mind? Or is all this, in the end, just a question of a unique philosophy(in relation to other ryu) put together by the TSKSR as they believe the high-speed is a vital key-factor to training but is in reality neither better or worse than slower speeds. I have always thought that a practitioners speed comes naturally after long, hard practice but that a practitioner didnt have to practice in 100 km/hour to be able to perform that fast in a real combat situation.

fifthchamber
26th July 2007, 06:29
Depends on the school, the man teaching it, the lesson being taught, the weapons being used and the theory being implemented...

I really couldn't answer your questions simply because it's not a simple question..

If you've seen kata performed slowly it may be due to the practioners inability to move faster (due to age perhaps) or the method being taught in the kata itself..Which may require precisely those slower movements..

Take the lines of TSKSR themselves, while both are relatively fast one can certainly see differences between the Sugino line and the Otake lines..And one could theorise that those differences exist due to the way that both have been taught..

But it could be the method being taught as well.

So there is no one answer..
Sorry..

Fred27
26th July 2007, 06:46
Well..I guess it isn't an easy series of questions. I guess my reasoning was that since surroundings shape and influence individual people so were the ryu by them as well. So I thought perhaps a newer "slowness"-theme became accepted in the edo-period by several ryu as the times changed from war to long-term peace. Kinda like the whole "-Do" idea.

fifthchamber
26th July 2007, 07:26
I would tend to favour other reasons over that particular one..

It would be sheer idiocy to do things slowly because that meets a certain "do" mindset....

If your Ryuha was based on that, those who did it would die if they tried to use it..

There should be many other better ideas for why a school demoes slower techniques and some of those I named above..

Fred27
26th July 2007, 07:51
It would be sheer idiocy to do things slowly because that meets a certain "do" mindset....


Just to clarify: I didnt specifically say that slowness was automatically "do", I said that perhaps the idea of slowing the kata down spread like the "do" idea spread. That is to say there was no central authority commanding the various arts to rename into "do" but they did so on their own volition because it was the style at the time. Jodo, Aikido, Judo, Kendo, Iaido, they were all jutsu at one point noone forced them to change.

At least that was my reasoning.

Ken-Hawaii
26th July 2007, 08:08
Let's face it, Fred: we just don't walk around carrying swords these days. Tends to stop traffic & gets the gendarmes in an uproar. Swords don't even help much with road rage 'cause cars will win every time.... Sword speed isn't "of the essence" right now.

Most iaido waza today are taught not only for understanding the specific ryuha principles, but also for developing one's own timing, pace, & zanshin. Watching Yamazaki-Sensei in the YouTube clip you posted earlier (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUN3QLq13kI ), Fred, it's pretty obvious that almost any iaidoka with a year or two of practice can perform Seitei Gata a lot faster than he does. But I sincerely doubt that many of us will ever have the same level of understanding & zanshin. Just being able to perform faster doesn't equate with better.

As far as different speeds intrinsic to a specific ryuha, I'm willing to wager that what is taught by today's Sokes is not particularly closely related to what was taught a few hundred years ago. TSKSR may be the exception, but I wouldn't bet that way. Speed may, indeed, be a function of how close the battlefield is, but it would be difficult to tell for sure without a time machine.... :D

Fred27
26th July 2007, 08:54
Let's face it, Fred: we just don't walk around carrying swords these days. Tends to stop traffic & gets the gendarmes in an uproar. Swords don't even help much with road rage 'cause cars will win every time.... Sword speed isn't "of the essence" right now.

Most iaido waza today are taught not only for understanding the specific ryuha principles, but also for developing one's own timing, pace, & zanshin. Watching Yamazaki-Sensei in the YouTube clip you posted earlier (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUN3QLq13kI ), Fred, it's pretty obvious that almost any iaidoka with a year or two of practice can perform Seitei Gata a lot faster than he does. But I sincerely doubt that many of us will ever have the same level of understanding & zanshin. Just being able to perform faster doesn't equate with better.

As far as different speeds intrinsic to a specific ryuha, I'm willing to wager that what is taught by today's Sokes is not particularly closely related to what was taught a few hundred years ago. TSKSR may be the exception, but I wouldn't bet that way. Speed may, indeed, be a function of how close the battlefield is, but it would be difficult to tell for sure without a time machine.... :D


Aaaawww...I cant carry around my sword in my belt and slay evil for the good of mankind? Dang.. :D

Seriously though, I admit I haven't fully understood the reason for the (relative) low speeds used in the Omote-set, for instance, as taught in Muso Shinden ryu iaido. If it is a way to introduce certain principles that is either best presented in a slow steady rythm instead of "realistic" speed then yes that makes perfect sense for me.

I have always been surprised to see the strong dynamic and fast kata of the Okuden series of Muso Shinden (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqFaM7xgGLE) compared to the slower, wellrounded movements of the Omote-series (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsTWfMjI0ls&mode=related&search=) . Just by looking at them they look like two complete opposites.

There are also kenjutsu examples, such as a kata I witnessed of the Yagyu Shinkage-ryu. That one was performed very slowly. Then you see, for instance, a Yagyu Shingan-ryu kenjutsu kata performing in relative high-speed. It made me start speculating, and make this inquiry, about some sort of peace-time (Edo-period) development that made some ryu slow some kata down. Obviously I was wrong :).

Thanks for the replies.

Stefffen
26th July 2007, 14:52
Well there would be a big difference on the level of the student. Moreover, it depends how basic you want it. Some times, you would like to do it slow, do it basic. Then you would be in the mood to do it fast, really work and feel the danger and the adrenalin. It would also depend on whom. Some feel that they do not need it and some you see that they like doing it fast. Some may bang on you and really work hard. Some take it slower, but you still feel in danger.
It depends really, I think. I have the impression that it does not depends on the art but the person. Am I totally off?

czumelzu
26th July 2007, 15:11
Well, about the speed of the katas, Sensei Ishido use to say:

If you are so fast, maybe you should run.....

That's has many sense for me.

Bruce Mitchell
26th July 2007, 16:18
I would say that all kata have an intrinsic rythm to them. If you think of them like a piece of classical movement, then there can be slight variation in the speed based on the person who is teaching them, just as different conductors have their own variations on classical pieces. Ultimately, I would posit that increased speed would more greatly impact the physical aspects of the kata (i.e. strength, endurance), and would have a lesser effect on the psychological aspects of the kata, which are by far, more important.

I do think that it is an interesting question to ponder over one's cups, but as Ken said, without a time machine there is no way to know. I for one think that there was a lot lost in the last century due to WWII. Many schools are missing a whole generation of practioners, and that in itself may have "slowed" things down, since newer members would have learned from teachers a little bit older than had been the norm.

DDATFUS
26th July 2007, 16:41
When one think of high-speed kata in koryu then one almost always think "Katori Shinto-ryu" as the tradition is known for it's relative high speed in excecution of kata. "Relative" in this case is relative to the other koryu arts. TSKSR have the distinction of being the oldest active heiho and that they have not "compromised" their teachings over the years where other ryu have. I do know that some ryu have different speeds for different kata and/or kata-series, but TSKSR seems to have "just" one speed.

Not too long ago I was talking to someone who said that he had watched film of Katori guys doing kata much more slowly than the standard that you see today. There was an implication that the high-speed kata that Otake Sensei practices are not the only accepted variation, and that the high-speed style might not have been as prevalent a generation or two ago. I don't really know any of that for sure (I'm having trouble remembering the specifics of the conversation anyway); it might be something to ask a Katori guy if you know any who might comment on that.

The style that I am stuyding now has different rhythms or paces for different kata. The first kata set (the only one that I have learned) has four kata, each of which is performed at a different speed. The pace, the attitude, and the breathing is slightly different in all four of the kata (sometimes this is very obvious, and sometimes it is more subtle). This is probably teaching me something very profound. Unfortunately, besides being a bad swordsman, I have no rhythm in my soul (David Sims-- Whitest Man on Campus 2002/2003) and I have a lot of trouble picking up on some of the more subtle differences, much less integrating these rhythms into my body until they are a natural and instinctive part of my movement.

To go back to Fred's original question, it seems very clear to me that someone (someone who had killed people with a sword before) very deliberately decided that we should do some of our kata quickly, and some of them more slowly.

wmuromoto
26th July 2007, 17:46
I usually don't post, but this is a problem among many of my own (few) students; they equate speed with competence. I tell them over and over again, form is first. Then comes speed, then strength.

Anyway, about Otake sensei: in a lecture he once explained to us outsiders that they do their kata their way (longish and fast) in order to develop reflexes, speed and endurance. Good enough explanation for me.

In Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu (or if you start with Seitei iai, it's even more obvious), there's a slowness in the beginning, but as you progress to chuuden and okuden, the tempo picks up. By okuden, you're pretty much doing the kata pretty darned fast, and the nukitsuke should be about the same speed as that demonstrated by TSKSR folk. So it's a pedagogical thing, at least in some iai schools. They don't want their beginning students to lose their digits when they're just learning how to draw. There may also, in fact, be more attention paid to the "-gei" aspects of koryu that were influenced by Edo-period cultural trends, and by the modifying influences of being developed in big-city Edo. Even the oo-chiburui of Muso Shinde-ryu and Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu is not all that practical for slinging blood off, two sensei told me (one in MJER, and one from another tradition); they both theorized that it's more of "a Zen thing. Whatever." Any kind of chiburui won't get off all that gore anyway, they said, but it has come to symbolize some practical and some philosophical (Edo influence) ideas.

By way of contrast, the Takenouchi (Takeuchi)-ryu's own iai doesn't have much by way of the notion of jo-ha-kyu found in Seitei and omote MJER nukitsuke; you just draw the sucker out and cut. "Very chikusai (bloody)," as one seitei teacher remarked when he saw one of my peers doing TR iai. So there's some cultural modifications that probably went to work on some ryu that were popular in the big city.

On the other hand, I wouldn't put toooooo much attention to it being a "do" thing or not; sometimes you slow down a movement simply for clarification or more in depth study. I remember doing tai chi ch'uan and slowing down all the movements really worked wonders for me understanding proper body alignment and coordination.

Anyway, that's my two cents' (or less) worth of opinions.

Wayne Muromoto

Maro
26th July 2007, 20:55
You learn it slow. As you progress you can do it faster until you are indeed fast. Then you teach it slowly. Full circle really.

The ability to do the Kata with speed is there but not always used.

mews
26th July 2007, 21:04
I am an Iaido beginner, but -

I have, more than once, suckered someone in Karate kumite with a slowish, non-threatening looking attack that got in hard enough ...

I got in because of the other person's perception that only fast is dangerous. oops!

There are probably relatively slow spots in places because not everything needs to be fastfastfast. It's a 2 1/2 foot razorblade - 'enough to do the job' is enough.

mew

renfield_kuroda
26th July 2007, 22:35
Speed is useless without timing and distance. Doing a solo kata really fast, or kumitachi really fast, is just dancing.
You learn slowly; balance, movement, timing. Eventually you move more quickly if and when it's necessary, and depending on the opponent.
The need for speed seems to be a modern predicament. Older styles, or at least what I have studied, focus on accuracy of movement, the use of the body, and action/reaction to the enemy -- maai and effective technique, not brute speed and power.
Speed (like strength) is limited by youth and vigor, but really effective technique is much "faster" because the movements are simpler, use the whole body more effectively, are telegraphed less, are done at exactly the time when the enemy is most vulnerable, etc.

Easy way to test this: do your best kumitachi with your best partner as fast as you can. Fast, right?
Now, at about half speed, have your partner attack you with any technique he wants -- you don't know what he's going to do, so you have to simply react to him, not dance in some pre-arranged form. Speed that up until you can't defend/react anymore.
Which was faster?
It is very, very difficult to do kumitachi in actual reaction to your partner's movements -- you memorize the moves and then just run through them on autopilot, faster and faster because you KNOW what's going to happen. Which totally misses the point.

Regards,

r e n

Charles Mahan
27th July 2007, 02:21
Some far more qualified folks have already chimed in, but I'll toss my 2 cents in anyway.

I've always thought that it isn't necessary to strike your opponent as fast as you possibly can, just first. It's a subtle distinction, but a very important one.

I also think that some folks see Iai practitioners moving relatively slowly through most of a waza, and miss the fact that the cuts themselves are very sudden and very quick.

There is also a general feeling that if you learn to perform the techniques correctly slow, you will be able to speed them up under pressure and hold onto most, if perhaps not quite all, of the accuracy.

hyaku
27th July 2007, 04:07
Iwata Sensei says "Anyone can do waza fast......and make a mess of it"

Ken-Hawaii
27th July 2007, 07:34
Very, very true, Hyaku.

There's an underlying "rhythm" in MJER waza, at least as it's taught at our dojo. As I help the newer students, probably the hardest part is convincing them that they don't have to yank the sword out of the saya as fast as possible & then try to break the sound barrier with their swing. Not only does it look ridiculous, but they're a definite hazard to themselves & the other students! And to me!!

Maeda-Sensei always teaches us to "tell a story" with each waza, so that anyone watching will understand exactly why each motion is being performed. So the speed at which we perform each waza varies from dead-slow to extremely fast. Trying to be consistent is, for me, one of the most difficult parts of MJER. Oh, & of course there are other minor issues like ma-ai & zanshin to remember.... :D

Fred27
27th July 2007, 08:54
So many good replies so little time hehe :)

I'm gonna take it all in and see if I have more questions. If not, thanks all :)

Michael Hodge
27th July 2007, 13:15
I usually don't post, but this is a problem among many of my own (few) students; they equate speed with competence. I tell them over and over again, form is first. Then comes speed, then strength.

I'm reminded of the phrase Dai Kyo Soku Kei. That's the natural progression of technique from utterly unfamiliar and rough to completely familiar and smooth. First comes dai (big/correct technique), followed by kyo (strong), then soku (speed/timing), then kei (light/smooth). Each step includes the characteristics before it. So by the time someone gets to the last step, his technique is altogether big and technically correct, with the exactly the required amount of strength and good timing. Based on this, I reckon it's never a good idea to skip over any one of those steps when learning stuff.

Logic dictates that those are captivated by speed invariably end up sacrificing all the other elements and perform techniques that aren't particularly big, strong or smooth.

Michael Hodge

Nii
28th July 2007, 08:15
I find this topic very intriguing. As someone who trains in mostly empty handed arts (I've only been studying TSKSR for about a week, but have a decade or so in a few empty handed styles), training drills with aliveness is a critical part to maintaining practical technique. You'd be foolish to think that by training with correct technique every time that if you were to be stuck in a real fight you can execute the same technique, since the massive levels of adrenaline and the fear tends to make your tried and true technique in the dojo go wonky. Training realistically, with speed, will prepare you much better than only going through kata without intensity. Doing free sparring or even drills against a resistant and unpredictable opponent is good training.

As a very low level Koryu practitioner, I can't begin to imagine how this methodology of training transfers to sword arts. But surely, by practicing without high speed in the dojo it seems unlikely you can suddenly do a much better job in a pitched battle without training for it beforehand. Hypothetically of course, I don't think any of us are about to go fight in a duel. Then there is the problem of safety. But my question still remains.

And I can't access my UserCP in the past few weeks for some reason to change my sig to my name.

renfield_kuroda
28th July 2007, 11:33
Since you've stated that you have been training for a week, your ignorance is understandable. Training at speed is useless without technique. I doubt very much that say a boxer learns how to punch really fast without first learning how to properly throw a punch. Training at speed is also pointless without understanding distance and timing, and there is no way to learn those at speed without getting a solid foundation in the basics, slowly and carefully.
Eventually, advanced practitioners move at speeds too fast to be believed:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=QyS5roV6Q3Q
But it takes quite a while to get to such a level, if at all.

Regards,

r e n

K. Cantwell
28th July 2007, 13:09
Something I've been told quite a bit is that it isn't about speed, but timing.

In order to disrupt your opponents timing, you have to recognize it. Training at a variety of speeds is not only telling you something about your technique, but about the inherent components of meeting technique of different speeds. I think a lesson here could be that if he is really fast, you don't have to be faster necessarily; you just have to see the timing (ma-ai since distance is a part of this calculation) and get inside or outside it.

With proper timing, it can seem as if your partner just disappears or his weapon comes out of nowhere. Without the proper timing, the "speed" can become a liability. Speed doesn't exist in a vacuum, but should be in relation to the threat. As a training paradigm, I think it is a good idea to train at different speeds on your own or informally with a dojomate.

I think we have some general principles we can bat around, but every school is going to have it's own spin on this that outsiders may not be able to fully grasp. Some schools may have sets that are always done within certain speeds due to internal pedagogy; other schools may vary the speed with the level of the student.

It's tough to really judge whether or not a technique is "fast" without understanding it's relation to the rest of the ryu. "Those guys do that movement very fast," could be that outsiders are simply seeing a training exercise that doesn't necessarily have great bearing on the combative philosophy of the ryu. Or, more likely, you are seeing students that understand timing and the raw speed isn't a fast as we think it is.

It also may be misleading to compare relative speed across schools, because as I said, each school operates according to itís own internal logic.

Kevin Cantwell

Charles Mahan
28th July 2007, 13:32
...the massive levels of adrenaline and the fear tends to make your tried and true technique in the dojo go wonky.

This I believe is one of the main arguements for massive repetition of correct technique. If you have to go slow to get the correct technique, great go slow. The more times you perform something correctly, the more likely you are to be able to do it correctly under stress. Massive repetition of poor technique(which is what you get when you're newish and trying to go to fast), is not going to help you when the pressure is on.

Swords are fundamentally different than unarmed combat. This stems margin of error is zero. A flubbed block of a punch will get you punched in the face, or might even still work a little and end in you taking a glancing blow. A glancing blow from a sword can still maim or kill you. And a maiming cut is usually fatal since it will be followed up by another cut.

This fundamental difference is why there are some differences in the way things are taught and the general mindset in which you must approach certain aspects of sword training.

Phil Hobson
28th July 2007, 15:21
Finally saw The Shooter last night on DVD. One of the lines used in the training of the actor Mark Wahlburg, and which he uses in the movie with the FBI agent he is training as a sniper is "Slow is smooth; smooth is fast." It relates to not rushing things which leads to fumbling hands when the adrenaline is pumping.

I am not in any position to speak credible for iai, but I have often been corrected that when I try to do techniques "fast," I tend to lose the timing that is needed. I am going back and trying to develop the timing, so that whatever "speed" a technique is done at, it is correct.

Josh Reyer
28th July 2007, 16:02
Finally saw The Shooter last night on DVD. One of the lines used in the training of the actor Mark Wahlburg, and which he uses in the movie with the FBI agent he is training as a sniper is "Slow is smooth; smooth is fast." It relates to not rushing things which leads to fumbling hands when the adrenaline is pumping.


Reminds me of Little Bill on gunfighting in Unforgiven.

Here's a question for the koryu experts on the forum. When watching any kind of live fight; boxing, MMA, judo competitions, kendo competitions, fencing, etc, it seems to me that the rhythm and pace is relatively slow for most of the fight, followed by spurts of flurries of action. It's circling, circling, circling, looking for openings, and then BAM-BAM-BAM, some kind of exchange, punches thrown, or a takedown attempt and counter, and so on.

Could it be that the slow-slow-fast speed in many koryu be a result of an Edo-period shift to a duel-oriented focus? OTOH, with a battlefield art like TKSR or Jigen-ryu, long sustained action might be more applicable for the milieu they are training for. That sound more or less feasible to anybody?

Adam Westphal
28th July 2007, 18:49
training drills with aliveness is a critical part to maintaining practical technique
At any speed, it's up to you whether or not your training drills have aliveness. I'll pull out a quote I read that helped my own training:


To practice whatever you do the same way all the time is a must. To practice a technique only halfheartedly builds bad habits, and lessens one's practice time of the proper technique. Remember that the context here is life and death swordplay, with razor-sharp, four-foot long lengths of steel. Remember also that dishonesty to oneself was bad discipline.

K. Cantwell
28th July 2007, 22:00
I'm certainly no expert, but I'll give it a shot.


Here's a question for the koryu experts on the forum. When watching any kind of live fight; boxing, MMA, judo competitions, kendo competitions, fencing, etc, it seems to me that the rhythm and pace is relatively slow for most of the fight, followed by spurts of flurries of action. It's circling, circling, circling, looking for openings, and then BAM-BAM-BAM, some kind of exchange, punches thrown, or a takedown attempt and counter, and so on.

I think that may be due to the inherent rules of competition. You are only allowed certain techniques, so you have to wait that much longer for the opportunity to arise to execute them. For example, a guy may be in perfect ma-ai and just asking for a kick in the jewels, but you can't do that, so you continue to work for the jab or legal takedown.

I happened to catch the Couture-Silvia championship match on replay this last Friday. Couture knocked Silvia on his duff in the first five seconds then went to work smothering him on the ground for the rest of the fight. He kept working for takedowns and when he got Silvia there, he just worked him, all the time soaking up the clock. So, it was a slow and deliberate action due to the nature of sport and rules. (I don't mean to imply that Couture was stalling. Quite the contrary. It's just that Randy's "style" was more time consuming, which is perfectly acceptable under the rules of UFC.)

If you are talking real combat, there are probably only one/two flurries and someone is going to eat it. (For example, if every target were open to Couture, the encounter would have been over as soon as The Maniac went down. Still, if every target were open, maybe Silvia wouldn't have been taken down in the first place. Hypotheticals are so......well, hypothetical.) You also see this sometimes in competition, when one guy really steals the timing on the other and ends the fight right-quick.


Could it be that the slow-slow-fast speed in many koryu be a result of an Edo-period shift to a duel-oriented focus? OTOH, with a battlefield art like TKSR or Jigen-ryu, long sustained action might be more applicable for the milieu they are training for. That sound more or less feasible to anybody?

You still want to finish your guy off as quickly as possible and I think stamina is important no matter what art you are training in. Even in a duel, I would imagine you have to get the weapon to bear with some speed. I think jo/ha/kyu is just a training mechanism. Jumping right to kyu would bust a lot of saya nowadays. In the old days, when you had people using swords on a regular basis, the stages may have been compressed or done away with totally.

Plus, I think this notion that there are objective speed measures by which we can classify ryu is a bit specious. Is one ryu really "faster" than another? If you saw two high level practitioners do ran-ai in SMR, you might say, "Wow!! Those guys are really fast." Then, if you watched those same two guys do omote technique you would probably see a change in speed. It's all relative to the pedagogy of the ryu.

When the time comes to move, you move with alacrity, but I don't think one school's alacrity is really faster than another's when it comes right down to it.

Kevin Cantwell

pgsmith
28th July 2007, 22:30
Could it be that the slow-slow-fast speed in many koryu be a result of an Edo-period shift to a duel-oriented focus? OTOH, with a battlefield art like TKSR or Jigen-ryu, long sustained action might be more applicable for the milieu they are training for.
As far as I am aware, all sword arts were primarily duel-oriented from their inception. While a number of the koryu still have some training oriented toward an armored opponent, the vast bulk of all sword training predisposes an unarmored opponent. This is due to the fact that the sword was very seldom used in warfare. Distance weapons and spears were the primary weapons, and swords were only used as backup.

wmuromoto
29th July 2007, 00:14
Quote:

"...You'd be foolish to think that by training with correct technique every time that if you were to be stuck in a real fight you can execute the same technique, since the massive levels of adrenaline and the fear tends to make your tried and true technique in the dojo go wonky. Training realistically, with speed, will prepare you much better than only going through kata without intensity. Doing free sparring or even drills against a resistant and unpredictable opponent is good training."

So....rather than try to do the right technique first, before you work on speed or strength, you just want to do it, even if it's WRONG? Then at least if you go into a "real fight" then you can do it FAST and WRONG at the same time?

Okay.

You are basing your ideas on the notion that kata are to be done without intensity or intent and that all free sparring is done with intensity and intent. That's kind of like a bad kurottee notion of kata. And while I respect the endurance levels and speed of sparring-type folk, not all the sparring I see in televised public access karate type tournaments (or amateur MMA bouts) are really that intense.

I don't think any koryu wonks here would argue that doing "free sparring against a resistant and unpredictable opponent" is NOT good training. It's just different training. Oh, but say if you did some karate sparring, how did you learn to do a kick right without falling on your rear end? Hmm? Start slow, huh? Learn the form first? Learn how to kick right so you don't hurt yourself...THEN you go into sparring. That's a kind of forms training before you do resistant training, isn't it? Kihon, or even simple basic punch-kick movements are a form of kata training. Hitting a speed bag. Hitting a punching dummy. Kata geiko.

Whew. Sorry for the rant. I actually kind of sort of can see what you mean, but you need to think this through. If you throw every idea of developing good form out the window, you'd have a brawling style of fighting based on sheer brute strength and meanness. The only way you would train for that kind of style is to go into a bar and pick a fight with the meanest guy there. That's not a bad idea for learning how to survive a bar fight, but I don't think it'll make you popular with the police and the women (after your face has been rearranged a couple of times). That's because you're saying there's nothing to be learned from repeating forms, drilling and building up from experience. All that works is just fighting and fighting and more fighting.

Maybe it would work for you if you're big and mean enough, but for average Joe Schmoe's like the rest of us, we need to learn how to first put one foot ahead of the other even before we learn how to raise one foot up to kick, never mind the adrenaline rush in a "real fight," or whatever. We're not natural born fighters. The rest of us have to learn how to form a fist, then deliver it to the right area without hurting ourselves.

As others have said, repetition drills such as found in properly executed kata build reflexive movements that are meant to help you do things naturally, reflexively, so that you CAN overcome that "flight or fight" rush of adrenaline.

There is also an odd assumption that if you were in a "real fight" you would jump right into a kata. Kata, as I think Dave Lowry once wrote in a magazine column, are building blocks. They're not the paragraph, let alone the "novel" of a "real fight." They just develop base level skills in terms of ma-ai, timing, rhythm and reaction.

(Lest you think I'm one-sided, I've done my share of sparring-type budo, including judo and karate, and even high school wrestling and American football, and found them to be very, very good at building endurance, reaction and reflexes. But even at that, I found that I could do better if my techniques were cleaner and faster...by doing forms and repeating uchikomi over and over, or in the case of football, hitting the training dummy over and over again. Those are forms of kata training.)

Now, additionally, perhaps this may not be as relevent in unarmed combative methods, but as far as armed fighting arts go, kata are necessary because any attempts at modifying a killing weapon for sport necessarily puts certain targets off limits, and they would not be in a "real fight." That could develop bad habits that can get you hurt. For example, in karate tournaments here, some players would turn their bodies so that their sides and back are exposed, because those areas are off limits as targets in point fighting. But that exposes your kidneys, back, face, and inside of your knee. That might be good gamesmanship but very poor self-defense-manship.

As far as katageiko being totally useless, I can only say that I've encountered instances where this notion was disproved rather hilariously. In one encounter, before a naginata practice, a kendo fellow was saying how kata geiko didn't take into account his own super-duper speed. He would just tap away my bokken and jump in for a men strike and beat me. I guess I didn't look all that impressed, so he asked me to help him demonstrate by going into chuudan no kamae. He then slapped my bokken aside and jumped in for a men, but because of all my kata practice, my bokken snapped right back into chuudan no kamae, without me thinking. I really didn't mean to do that. He ran his throat right into the tip of my bokken and fell backwards on his rear end. I just retargeted my bokken to the center line naturally because of so much kata practice.

In another incident that happened here a couple of years ago, one jo practitioner was getting very belligerent, for some really odd, inexplicable reasons. He was a pretty good jo person, but somehow he decided in the middle of a kata practice with a menkyo-holding partner, he would just go "free sparring" with his bokken at the guy to prove some kind of idiotic point. --Maybe your point about free sparring. Well, there's no "free sparring" in Shinto Muso-ryu jo, but as soon as the guy "broke" the kata, as soon as he stepped in with a yoko men uchi instead of the actual movement, the menkyo partner instantly and intuitively, without even thinking about it, reacted, spun the jo around and slammed it down on the bokken wielder's head, cutting short the yoko men uchi attack. The very tip of the jo, the "cutting edge" hit the fellow right in the bridge of his nose, knocking the person straight down on his rear end and very nearly knocked that fellow out. Years of kata training had instilled an instinctive reaction to a yoko men uchi.

In both cases, the instantaneous reaction came without thinking. I would imagine that's why kata training (with serious intent) is actually an aid in preparing for a "real fight." Much like free sparring "with intent," proper kata training builds reflexive and reactive, instinctual movements and reactions that help circumvent the "freeze" that can happen in the heat and danger of such a situation.

When I was learning jo, I had to learn things slowly because I didn't know what the heck I was doing and had to think too much about my movements. Then, gradually, as my form improved, the speed went up. By the time you get to menkyo-level in jo, you're pretty much doing the kata at "real" speed, at real distances. Watching a jo kata done well is scary, because the tip of the jo stops only a few centimeters from the target area, and after years of katageiko, the practitioners are extremely precise. So there's a lot to be said about training in kata for weapons work. And there's much to be said about doing things right to start with. Speed and strength come later after it's done right.

That said, I do understand there are different goals when one considers koryu katageiko style training and the MMA/free fighting stuff. If you don't agree, then let's just agree to disagree.

The goals of koryu kata training are not just for "real fighting," it's for codifying a system of body movements and passing it on, generation to generation, not really for tournament sparring or fighting in a ring. If you want to do that, then do that, don't do kata training. If you want to train for self-defense, then train for combative self-defense. There's no substitutes for training appropriately. Kata training alone, admittedly, will only take you so far if your goals are purely self-defense and MMA-style fighting.

So here's another story: one of my fellow practitioners teaches kata style martial arts in San Francisco. He recently kicked out one of his students. Why? The guy learned how to do our slightly modified type of uraken, walked into a bar, picked a fight, and with one punch, knocked out somebody's entire front row of teeth, knocking the guy out cold. Rather than praise the student for testing his skills in a "real fight," my friend kicked him out of our ryu. Why? The goals of our training is not for picking fights and then hurting people. We just have different goals, is all. Yours may be primarily for fighting. Ours isn't. That's just how it is. We sign a keppan that says we are not supposed to learn our stuff and then go out hurting other people. So we actually discourage those kinds of things.

Because we have different goals, I won't argue that someone who does kata geiko exclusively could prevail in a caged death match with some MMA fellow. That's not the point of kata geiko. If you want to do MMA, then you train in MMA. A person who trains only in kata training is, in that instance, not truly competent for that kind of fighting, nor should it be expected of him. Yes, yes, we're wimps. Your daddy can beat my daddy. Can we play nicely now?

Oh, Renfield: nice videos of Kuroda sensei. I never realized that he could move that fast.

Wayne Muromoto

Phil Hobson
29th July 2007, 02:32
Wayne,

Your post out to be stickied somewhere on this forum. Well said sir.

Somewhere I read that Kuroda sensei credited his amazing speed to the constant practice of kata over many, many years. For what it's worth.

Bruce Mitchell
29th July 2007, 03:00
Here are some thoughts from my limited experience. I study both Tendo Ryu Naginatajutsu and Atarashi Naginata. I find the two compliment each other very well. Atarashi Naginata, being more of a sport, tends to have fast, light (whippy) techniques, at least compared to Tendo Ryu. It presents me with a different set of physical and psychological challenges than Tendo Ryu does. However, in my limited opinion, it lacks the combative mindset that Tendo Ryu teaches. For my part, the very real psychological stress that the Tendo Ryu kata create have not only stood the test of time, but also have allowed me to cope with real life stress (work, family, etc) better than the competetive stres of Atarashi Naginata. I see no reason to try to "speed up" the kata that has been handed down to me within the Ryu. In fact, one of the Ryu's senior teachers once began a seminar by telling us, "people have died to bring you these techniques, please do not change them."

In a similar vein, I once read (was it in one of Dave Lowry's books?) about a koryu student, I think it was Yagyu Ryu, that was told to go fight kendo people only using techniques from the ryu until he could win. Seems like a far better way to test yourself than trying to rush through a kata.

I think that it is also interesting to note that in comparative test between different athletes, usually the fastest athletes are olympic lifters, which is not a sport that focuses speed, but on technique.

Nii
29th July 2007, 03:01
Quote:
Lots of wise words

That has got to be the most informative thing I've ever read on this forum. But really, no need for you guys to get defensive. I'm here to learn more about the koryu arts, and it's system of teaching, not to attack the way it's taught!

One main point you guys made was about kata getting faster as you become more skilled. But to be honest, after years and years of training in empty handed styles, I think I forgot to consider how slow I was when I first started! Yeah, beginners should of course start slow and speed up as they get more experienced. That I agree with.

Another main point you made is the purpose of kata. The kata I do in Taekwondo (and the ones I have seen in other empty handed arts) have almost no practical purpose in real fighting, so I guess I'm a little biased against kata there. Your examples of situations where kenjutsu kata do a good job of conditioning and training have really helped me see the difference between armed and unarmed kata.

I'm an advocate of live sparring because after many years of studying Taekwondo (properly... not competitively) I opted to have a friendly sparring match with my friend who studies Thai Boxing with very loose rules. And I subsequently got completely beat up over and over again. After that instance I decided to make sure my training is practical.

And I'd like to clarify that my purpose in learning these arts is NOT to go around looking for fights! I'm not some thug you know... And I'm not some brute either (standard Asian male here =)), but I personally believe that all martial arts were originally created with the purpose of combat, and if we train without that purpose then we aren't doing martial arts at all!

And this time I will post a disclaimer. Don't take my comments as offensive, rude, or a challenge. Just some friendly debating/questions/comments.

I really wonder when that UserCP will start working again.

-John Nguyen

Nii
29th July 2007, 04:10
I'd also like to point out (after seeing you constantly saying "real fight" in quote marks), other than the fact that the edit function is not working, that personally I have never been engaged in a "real fight". I have, however, been engaged in full contact sparring, and that was more than close enough to the real thing for me. :)

-John Nguyen

EDIT: I can edit this post but not the one above! What gives!? =/

Charles Mahan
29th July 2007, 17:15
There's a timeout. You can only edit for a certain amount of time. 10 or 15 minutes. I forget.

It encourages thoughtful posting in the first place, since you won't be able to go back and change it later. Or at least it's supposed to :)

Kim Taylor
29th July 2007, 18:47
I always found that my kata got slower with practice, even the paired stuff seems to slow down... or at least the time between when my partner starts moving and when I have to move gets bigger, and the more junior the partner is to me, the slower they are moving.

Mind you, if I go stupid and just make the next move in a kata automatically, without paying attention or waiting for buddy to commit to an attack, I can move my face into a sword that's not supposed to be there VERY quickly.

Updating EJMAS today and found my comments on the topic of intensity (not strictly speed but what speed is supposed to give you) here: http://ejmas.com/pt/2007pt/ptart_taylor_0703.html

Kim Taylor

Chidokan
29th July 2007, 21:33
You have to go slowly at first otherwise you 'blur' past some of the points which are a fundamental to the waza....to do iai properly you need to include all the relevant points of technique before you start looking at speed, feeling, and timing. You should be able to see this no matter what your grade when you watch say an ikkyu going through a waza. It looks very 'boring' compared to the same waza done by say a hachidan...finesse and levels of understanding, (along with practise of course) is what makes the difference....

Aozora
31st July 2007, 15:45
Updating EJMAS today and found my comments on the topic of intensity (not strictly speed but what speed is supposed to give you) here: http://ejmas.com/pt/2007pt/ptart_taylor_0703.html

Kim Taylor

That's an excellent article, Unka Kim.

When I started iai, I bought your first two videos to get a feel for what I was about to undertake and years later, this article is also exactly where I am--a "senior" instructor in charge of a class and needing all the help I can get to push both my students and my class.

Domo arigato gozaimasu.

Fred27
1st August 2007, 10:01
Right! Since this topic has come to a natural conclusion I thought I would take the opportunity to say "thanks" for very interesting and, (for me), very informative discussion. Its honestly always a pleasure reading about the different training-methods which were formed by individuals and individual ryu.
http://forum.budo.se/images/smilies/bow.gif

/Fred

Kim Taylor
1st August 2007, 12:50
That's an excellent article, Unka Kim.

When I started iai, I bought your first two videos to get a feel for what I was about to undertake and years later, this article is also exactly where I am--a "senior" instructor in charge of a class and needing all the help I can get to push both my students and my class.

Domo arigato gozaimasu.

Glad to hear it Neil, I hope they were of some use. Nice to see that you're still at it.

Take care
Kim.