Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Spirit of Yon Kata

Each of the Koryu kata seems to have a spirit or theme that makes it distinct and unique.  This is done as a challenge to growth - sort of a, “now that you know most all the aikido techniques that can be done, try working them this way,” sort of thing. I've written about this some here.

These Koryu kata also present us with a challenge to not only master their theme within the context of their subset of techniques, but also to take that theme into all of your aikido - each Koryu kata should transform all of the rest of your aikido.

So, what are the characteristics of the Spirit of Yon Kata?
  • Emphasis on kuzushi - kuzushi is anytime uke has to take an unintended step.  When held in a state of asymmetry, the body eventually crumbles.
  • Flowing instead of Throwing -  the epitome of flow cannot be achieved when tori is thinking about throwing and uke is thinking about figuring out how to survive being thrown.  Tori is not Nage ("The Thrower"), because that presupposes figuring out the time and place to stop moving and apply intent.  Tori is more like a spotter for a weightlifter or a gymnast.
  • Big motion
  • Feather-light - In the first part if the kata, uke wants to be so light and responsive that tori can throw with just a hint - just a breath of intent in a certain direction at the right time.  When doing the second part, the throws happen because uke refuses to take the hint so the second hint is not stronger, just perhaps more obvious a hint
  • Short/fast releases as compared to hanasu (which gives tori more time to stand around waiting)

How can it be big motion but short/fast at the same time?

  • One of those could be a false characterization, or
  • Part of each technique is short/fast (the kuzushi) and part is big motion and flowing-not-throwing (lot of following steps after the kuzushi until uke inevitably crumbles.)

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Patrick Parker
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