Sunday, February 03, 2013

How to practice the in-betweens in Gokata

Gokata is mostly a re-iteration of technical chunks from previous kata - Ichikata, Nikata, and Yonkata.  The interesting goodies in Gokata are not in the techniques, but in the spaces between the techniques.
It is in these spaces that uke can work on getting back to the next attack as efficiently as possible.  It is in these spaces that tori can work on remaining ready for uke's ongoing attack and proactively controlling ma-ai by stepping forward to meet uke.
So, why would we work on Gokata in a technique-by-technique manner like we find convenient for the other kata - where we get some instruction on technique #1, then technique #2, and so on?  We should find a way to work on the stuff in the spaces between techniques - a way to shine the spotlight on those in-between things.
A practice that has been working out nicely in my classes is to take pairs of techniques.  The first two suwariwaza (for instance) are familiar from Ichikata, so we don't really need to work too much on the execution of either of these individual technical things.  So we practice the two techniques back-to-back with emphasis on...

  • tori does a technique and takes 1-2 steps back and faces uke.
  • uke rises and attacks immediately from where he is.
  • tori steps forward to meet the attack and does the second technique.

After playing techniques 1 and 2 this way with emphasis on the in-between for a while, we move on to techniques 2 and 3, then 3 and 4, and so on. After we get the in-between stuff working for several pairs, we chain them togetehr into a chunk of 3 or 4 or 5 techniques with a continuous feel and with the emphasis still on the in-between spaces.

It seems to be a good practice mode for Gokata to work pairs of techniques with emphasis on the in-between ratehr than on the techniques.

photo courtesy of Dimmerswitch

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Patrick Parker
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