Friday, April 1, 2016

Train Kata, until there is no Kata

I won't comment more about this post from Mark Lithgow and his converstation with Soke. It says it all right here.

"... Look at the people on the sharp end; people in military and law enforcement. People who rely on firearms in real-world situations. Obviously, in the real world, they have to be able to use their firearms ‘freely’, adapting to an ever-changing, dynamic situation. But try telling them that drills, such as dry-fire drills etc. are not important! I’m sure they will disagree! How do they train? They practice drills… over and over and over! They practice them so much that they don’t need to think about them. THAT is kata!
Look at the soldier who has to field-strip a weapon to fix it, or to be sure that it will operate efficiently. He can do that in any situation. He might me in a foxhole, waist-high in water, or hanging with his legs from a banana tree. I doubt he’s ever PRACTICED it hanging with his legs from a banana tree, but he can DO it! Why? Because he’s practiced that ‘kata’ hundreds of times until he doesn’t need to think about it and so can adapt it to his environment. If a skill is ingrained deep enough, you don’t need to PRACTICE free movement… you can just do it! THAT IS KATA! (or at least, it SHOULD be!)
I’ve had conversations about just this with Hatsumi sensei several times… the last time being at his house the day before yesterday. He began talking about the importance of being able to transcend ‘technique/kata’, and I think the conversation went something like this…
Me- “That's all well and good Sensei, but you teach poetry… Many people don’t even know their alphabet though.”
Soke: “Well that is why we have kata and kihon. People should be practicing those kata over and over… They should practice technique so many times that it ceases to exist!”
Me: “I understand that Sensei, but a lot of people hear you say that technique is not important, so they feel that they shouldn’t practice technique and kata.”
Soke (in a very concerned voice): “But that’s not what I mean!”
Me: “I understand that Sensei, that practicing technique until it stops being technique is different to not doing technique in the first place… but many people misunderstand that.”
Soke (more concerned): “Then please make sure they DO understand that! That’s not what I mean! I often say that I am speaking to 15th here… THAT is what I mean! By the time they get to 15th dan, they SHOULD have practiced technique and kata until it is part of them!” Until then though, people need to work on TECHNIQUE!
I’m sorry but it should be up to Sensei to say that… and I will happily translate it. He does say it sometimes… and I DO translate it. But I think there is a lot of ‘selective listening’ going on, and it goes right over many people’s heads