Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Tachi-tai-tachi and permission

I'm getting ready for the 2013 Aiki Buddies Gathering this weekend and I've been reviewing Koryu Dai San (Sankata).  Looked up some films and found this thing that I'd seen before and categorized in my mind as curious and hadn't thought about much more.
This is an extreme variant of the last section of Dai San - and I mean EXTREME variant!  different number of techniques, the ones that are in common with what we know are in a different order and performed wildly differently - plus it has 1-2 new things not in our regular version.  The variation is so extreme here that I'm tempted to say this is not the Dai San Tachi tai Tachi, but just a couple of guys fooling around with things of interest when both guys have swords - but for a few things-

  • These are Tomiki Aikido practitioners
  • They are apparently doing a demo (there is clapping at the end)
  • The video is labelled Tachi tai Tachi, which is what Tomiki folks like to call the end of San Kata.

Today when I watched this again, it suggested a different story to me.  The extreme variation in this section of San Kata (probably the most important set piece of advanced Tomiki Aikido practice) suggests to me that San kata is not so much kata as it is a repository of things of interest.
I've heard it told before that San kata was primarily comprised of the left-overs from Tomiki forming his Randori-no-kata.  All the stuff that didn't seem to fit with the toshu randori stuff in Junana was collected into San kata as a sort of repository of old ideas that Tomiki didn't quite know what to do with wrt a randori system.
The extreme variation in this demonstration of Tachi tai Tachi seems to fit with that assertion.  If San kata were something less than Kata-with-a-capitol-K-passed-down-from-God-to-Tomiki then there would be nothing wrong or unseemly about these practitioners removing that entire section and replacing it with some sword-v-sword stuff that they liked better.  That's cool, because there's a lot of sword-v-sword stuff that I'd like to play with.
This gets at something I've been thinking about a lot lately - permission.  Folks seem to need permission to take their KATA and start making them Kata, and eventually kata and kata and kata. To start taking the capitol-K out of the thing and disassembling the thing and tearing it into pieces and rearranging and reconstituting and reforming the whole system and making it your own.
If you are the type that needs permission to take ownership of your martial art, here it is...
I hereby give you (and me) permission to take the stuff that the old dead guys did and totally wreck it and rework it into something that speaks to your soul - an art form that you think is so cool that you want to practice it every day for the rest of your life!

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Patrick Parker

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