When you define kata exactly down to the smallest technical detail, like "step back with tsugiashi to the left 45 degrees, turning your centerline slightly leftward..." not only is that not working on principle (it's working on technical details), but it makes precision impossible to achieve. There will always be variance from any precise technical standard you set up. Not only can you not reach any precise technical hurdle you set up, but your performance and precision will get even worse under stress, causing you to miss the mark even farther.
But if you define the central forms of a kata like Goshin Jutsu using principles, like "evade, kuzushi, atemi, wakigatame" then there is sufficient room to act within those principles and achieve the aim of the kata. In this case, precision is posible in the sense that a good tori can hit all of those principles in that order, even if it's not possible for him to duplicate the look and feel of the central form of the kata.
So, is this a success (tori was able to demonstrate the use of certain principles to diffuse the attack) or is it a failure (tori doesn't look like sensei)?
Engineers call this, "tolerance," and in this context, tolerance is a virtue.
More to come on why we really DO want to strive for precision in kata... stay tuned...
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Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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