Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tegatana the time-waster

Years ago, when I had just gotten my shodan (first-degree black belt), our instructor invited a very highly-ranked instructor to come do a seminar at our club. I was excited because now that I was black belt we could work on the really cool stuff – the high-level stuff! But, when the seminarian got there, he announced that we'd be working on Tegatana no kata (our first exercise that we learn as white belts) for the entire weekend. I tried to hide my disappointment but I was absolutely crushed. I mean, Come on! Tegatana! We had done that kata 3-4 times per class, every class, for years! Sure, it's a good exercise and all, but what could this guy possibly tell us that our instructor had not already beaten into our brains? Tegatana was a dead horse so far as I was concerned.
Well, to my surprise, the seminarian taught on Tegatana the entire weekend without saying a single word I'd ever heard about the kata. I mean that literally - he did not repeat a single concept that our instructor had ever told us! I was astounded. That lesson opened up a huge new territory in aikido for me,and I have never since then gotten bored with Tegatana or thought of it as a dead horse or a completed exercise.  Rather, Tegatana is a rabbit-hole that keeps geting deeper and deeper.
Patrick Parker, is a Christian, husband, father, judo and aikido teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: or phone 601.248.7282
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  1. That's an inspiring story. I'm sure there are many hidden details to be teased out of even the most basic katas. I won't turn my nose up now when sensei asks us to do our first white belt kata! Thanks

  2. That kind of thing could explain why I still spend so much time working on seiken.

  3. Yeah, sometimes I think I spend and undue, inordinate ammount of time on the fundamentals and the basics. Sometimes I digh because the basics take up so much of my time I wonder if I can still do the most 'advanced' stuff. But then when I return to the 'advanced stuff' I find I'm not rusty on it - it's just that much better for having dwelt on the basics.

  4. I've often thought that people are a bit too eager to move beyond tegatana - moving on to bigger and more exciting katas. I have to admit that I am also guilty of it, as it often seems that I turn back to reflect upon the kata and it seems that my understanding and implementation of it could be so much more.


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