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Spectra in aikido kata

A masterful painter could use any of a number of tools to paint a painting.  He might use several types of brush, or he could cut a reed and chew up the end and paint with it.  He could paint with a feather or with a metal spatula.  Part of the reason that the painter is a master is because he understands the use of all these tools and he understands the consequences of each tool - the effect it will create.  Part of the reason that such a painting would constitute fine art is because it is the product of the choice of an artist who is exercising artistic choice or license.
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Martial arts are the same way.  I frequently hear people talk about the "right way" or "wrong way" to do a kata but I more often see variation as a mater of artistic license.
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Imagine, for instance, a spectrum with large, soft, flowing motion at one end and direct, fast, forceful execution at the other end.  One practitioner might usually do a particular kata closer to one end while another practitioner does the same kata closer to the other end of the spectrum.  Which is right and which is wrong.
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It appears to me that this particular scale (soft/flowing/roundabout vs. forceful/immediate/direct) is a particularly useful one for categorizing different martial artists' performance.
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It also appears to me that students should be taught variations of the fundamental techniques close to each end of the spectrum.  That way, as they gain more experience they will be able to better make that artistic choice of an appropriate variation in the middle.
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It appears to me that most instructors tend to pick their own favorite place on that scale and teach all techniques near that point on the scale.  For instance, we constantly hear that "right" vs "wrong" discussion when we encounter practitioners who are operating at a different point on the scale.
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It appears to me that this tendency is more pronounced at the more fundamental end of the syllabus.  For instance, in aikido, we could teach good, competent releases and Junana at both ends of the spectrum, but we frequently hear things like "That's not the right way to do oshitaoshi." or "That oshitaoshi should be more direct (or more roundabout)."
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I think I hear less griping about right vs wrong regarding more "advanced" material, like the Koryu no kata, as if that material is supposed to be subject to greater artistic license.  But that's kind of funny, because there's nothing all that amazing about any of the Koryu no kata material that would prevent a green belt from being able to do it...
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Anyway, just running through some thoughts regarding spectra in aikido kata.  I think the bottom line of this is, I've thought about this for a while and I'm leaning toward teaching relative beginners both the direct/forceful and the indirect/flowing variations of releases and junana and then trusting them as competent artists (around brown belt or so) to begin sorting that choice out for themselves.


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Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com