Friday, October 06, 2017

Connections between Junokata, Koshiki, and Nanatsu!

You know what is really cool?  When you have both enough time in a body of work, and the opportunity to step back from it far enough that you can see the themes and motifs running through it.  Judo is like this.

In 2012 I was invited to Windsong in OKC to work with them on Junokata.  I was no master of Junokata (I'm still not), and I suggested a couple of bigger-name, more expert instructors, but they insisted that mine was the perspective they wanted.  Because of my Tomiki Aikido background, they figured I might be able to put it in words they'd understand or draw connections between Junokata and aikido.  So we did this thing and had a blast!

Then again, in 2014 I had the honor of being invited to Windsong to show them some work I'd been doing on an obscure variation of Koshiki no Kata.  Because this variation was so different-looking from the standardized Kodokan version, we didn't even call it Koshiki no Kata for fear of a never-ending stream of B.S. from internet armchair trolls.  We called them "warmup exercises for Koshiki no kata."

This became something of a recurring gig.  In 2015 I returned to Windsong to work with them on my interpretation of Judo Master, Tokio Hirano's astounding body of work, including uchikomi and Nanatsu no Kata.  Hirano was amazing, and working on his material for a couple of years was really eye-opening for me.  After almost 25 years of judo, this was the first time I really felt some of that material work for me.

Now, after taking a break of a couple of years from that material, I was recently asked to reprise the Tokio Hirano material a couple of times at the University Budo Club in Starkville and at Akari Judo in Richmond Virginia - and It was probably almost as mind-bending for me as for the guys that got exposed to Hirano for the first time because all of a sudden I saw some of the connections between these pieces of work that have spanned the last years of my Judo practice!

All of a sudden, I recognized the same things in Hirano's work that we were playing with in Koshiki, and I saw connections between Junokata and Hirano.  It was as if Hirano was the Rosetta Stone that allowed me to understand more of Kano's work and more of Fukuda's work!

Even though I hate watching myself and listening to myself on video, it has been a blast going back through the videos and watching those painfully awkward attempts to explain these previous masters' work because now I have sufficient time and distance from it to recognize more of what was going on.

I always thought it was really interesting that Keiko Fukuda, who is pretty much recognized as the greatest expert in Junokata that the world has ever known, said in her book that she never understood Junokata until she had sufficient practice in Koshiki no kata!  Now I get what she was saying!

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Patrick Parker
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