New Schedule and Location for 2016

...

Why all the arm waving and spinning!?



Modern judoka, competitive and recreational alike, seem to have about two distinct initial opinions about Tokio Hirano when they see his videos - 
  1. Whoa! This guy has amazing light technique that still gets big amplitude throws!
  2. What the hell is all that arm waving and spinning around nonsense!?
Those were certainly my initial thoughts, but then the question struck me, "how did he get from those crazy practice motions to that amazing skill?" or "What is the meaning and idea behind those unorthodox training motions?"
.
I spent most of a year or so obsessed with Hirano and his videos and his crazy kata. I did searches on Google for info about Hirano and the kata. I played with what I could understand of the kata. But it still took a long time for me to get a glimmer of what I think he was getting at.
.
Follow me here...
.
The name of the kata is Nanatsu no kata, which means something like "seven forms." Not much help there. But then I found somewhere on the net some French practitioners that refer to it as le "kata des vagues" or "The Form of Waves." I like to use my own loose translations, so i call it "Seven Waveforms."
.
It seems that Hirano was obsessed with ocean waves and spent a lot of time watching them and thinking about how they behave. He came to see judo throws as similar to the motions of waves. I also think that he was looking at the waves in a naturalistic, non-scientific way - like art, because his Waveforms kata is a work of art and not a Physics thesis.
.
Once I started thinking along the lines of "He is demonstrating seven kinds of waves that exemplify judo throws." all of a sudden the pieces fell into order.
.
Also note, there is video of Hirano's students on the net doing the kata and they don't always do the arm-waving thing, so apparently that was a teaching or a demonstration or a sometimes-practice sort of thing.
.
Hirano was a stranger in a strange land. There was probably a language barrier and there was certainly a skill-level barrier between him and his European students. It must have been hard to communicate advanced ideas like he wished he could. Here's what I think. Here is the monologue that is running in my head as I watch Hirano do Nanatsu...
"Alright, listen up, monstrous, clumsy westerners. I'm about to really lay an idea on you. Judo is like waves..."
.
(Imagine Hirano holding a giant paintbrush and painting a huge wave on the wall beside him...)
.
"Some waves wash in and subside like this...Some judo is like that... Some waves wash in and cut along the shoreline like this...Some judo is like that... Some waves wash in and hit a rock and splash back like this...Some judo is like that... Some waves come in and become whirlpools like this...Some judo is like that..."
.
He was saying the same thing as Bruce Lee in Lee's famous "Be like water, my friend" lecture.
.
Hirano was, as literally as practical, painting you a picture of the sort of motion happening in the waves and the judo throws.  Watch it again and let me know if the arm waving thing makes more sense.


Want to discuss this blog post?
Come find me on Facebook at my Mokuren Dojo FB group

____________________
Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com