Monday, January 19, 2009

Assymetry in Taikyoku

So, who has noticed that the Taikyoku kata are assymetric? You do not do the same things on one side as the other. Taikyoku is a Left-Right-Left pattern repeated 3 times, You do twice as many left-side turns, stances, and blocks as right-sided but you do twice as many right-sided punches as left. The 270 degree turn is only ever done toward the left side Does this suggest to you...
  • This kata might have been intended for a homogeneous right-handed society as evidenced by universally sacrificing the left arm as a block and keeping the right arm in reserve for a strike? I've heard stories of Samurai being taught to sleep with their right arms under their bodies so that if ninja were to attack they would reflexively throw up their left arm as a block. Apocryphal? Maybe.
  • Taikyoku might be a template - you might be meant to flip it and play it R-L-R too. Funakoshi talks in his books about even muscular development. There are kata (e.g. Sanchin) that some people do right-handed and others do left handed. This was explained to me as the instructor standing in front of the pupil acting as a mirror - so each generation of students would do it opposite from the previous generation. Apocryphal? Maybe.
  • Sidedness does not matter - you can't overcome it anyway and to try to is to waste time.
  • The 270 degree left turn is only applicable as hip throw, which you would typically only learn one-sided anyway.
What do y'all think? Do you practice Taikyoku both-sided? Why or why not?

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  1. Since my Karate was Wado Ryu I never practised this Kata, however, as we learnt our kata, we would eventually learn how to perfrom it in Ura, which is in the opposite direction. So Naihanchi for example when perfromed in ura would move first to the left and then the right.

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  3. Our basic form was the same as Shodan seen in video. Our second basic form was a version of Nidan.

    See here

    All of our forms were taught from one side. It may be a Taekwondo thing; I'm not sure.

    We practiced both sides in line drills, sparring, and self-defense steps.


  4. My taijiquan teacher explained the asymmetry in our form by saying that the world isn't symetrical, but it is balanced.

  5. Taikyoku was developed by Funakoshi apparently to prepare the student to learn the Heians. Perhaps strategic combative applicability may be overstated by such an analysis?

    Given that Taekwondo's Chonji is extremly similar to Taikyoku except for the 270, I will nevertheless have to say that it is more or less unnecessary to add in an extreme amount of detail or combinations at the beginner level in order to create effectiveness.

    Most beginners are unable to decide the best course of action when s*** hits the fan. It is more important to give them perhaps one or two really effective weapons (like the oizuki and front lunge punch) ... and then let this rip when they need it. Subtleties don't work when the pedal hits the metal. Perhaps a hip throw, perhaps an arm break and groin strike. That's about it. Chances are they're going to take that one punch and apply it over and over again.
    I communicate Chonji is a pattern about destruction. Someone grabs you, you are going to break their hand (or their elbows) using the fold for the lower block. You are breaking their forearms. Smacking them in the nads. Then crashing into them with the front lunge punch. There is no time to hold back ... apply the same basics to everything.



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