Iain Abernethy.com   Post A Reply
my profile | directory login | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Iain Abernethy.com » Kata Application » Unpacking Ohtsuka (Page 2)

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!   This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   
Author Topic: Unpacking Ohtsuka
mike t
Member


Icon 1 posted      Profile for mike t     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sorry guys, I was 'editing' and we crossed posts. I need to type faster.

Iain, your linguistic analogy is right on. I agree that where I think most 'typical' karate training is weak is with regards to points 2-4.

On point 1, I would give 'most' karate a '10' out of 10. Karate is one of the best arts our there for rigorus training (perhaps over training) of its elemental alphabet. The volume of time it takes to do this is what eclipses 2-4, I think.

On point 2, I would give most karate a '5' (looking at using the material in the kata). Being generous, lets say half the schools out there apply 100% of kata techniques effectively in SOME form of partner exercise. They don't, but let's pretend they do.

On point 3, I would give karate a '2'. I bet 20% or less (probably 'less') of the schools out there train traditional techniques in a semi-free state. To me, this domain partly has to do with levels of partner compliancy, but also (looking at the idea of developing adaptability and connecting techniques), it's also important that this kind of training be conducted in what I would call a 'semi-structured' state where variation BEGINS to progressively enter in in increasing quantities culminating in 4, free application. You may be putting these exercises under point 4, I note you said referred to your 'restricted' sparring drills, which I would consider to be a form of flow development drill.

Regarding point 4, again, if we are talking about the material inside traditional kata, I would give karate a '1'. There are probably some organized schools out there who train this way (it sounds like yours is one) but I would argue that this number is less than 10%, and that even 10% is being generous.

The result of this progressive training imbalance is the subsitution of sporting techniques for traditional techniques in free-application; or at least, this is one of the primary contributing phenomena, I believe.

quote:
I don't even refer to what I teach on a day to day basis as Karate any more since a large number of Karateka will be quite happy to learn the moves if they think they are cross training but instead will want to argue with me if I call something that feels so different karate.
That's funny, JWT, I have a training partner and good friend that has been pushing me something fierce to do the same (eliminate the karate label). Personally, I hang on to it, partly to piss him off (he considers himself a 'former' karate guy), and mostly because I believe that most 'classical' karate was probably originally conceived as a hodge-podge 'mixed' martial art containing all of the elements and methods embodied by modern cross training.

--------------------
Mike T.,
4th Dan Shorin Ryu

Posts: 1228 | From: West Michigan | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
jwt
Member


Icon 1 posted      Profile for jwt   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I like Iain's writing analogy, but since we are working in the physical realm I would like to draw another analogy to illustrate what I am doing.

When we learn to swim - we could spend a vast amount of time lying on an ironing board next to an instructor practicing the strokes. It is possible to isolate various areas by holding on to the edge of the pool and kicking. What most of us do though is get into the pool with a flotation device and just splash around and build confidence in the actual medium. Later on we either copy someone who we see is moving faster or more gracefully than us or they show us a better way of doing something, but all the time - we are in the water.

The people who benefit most from training out of the water and watching while outside the water are the people who have already gained a high level of skill in the water.

Just a thought. It may seem off topic but I think its actually very on topic when it comes to Kata.

--------------------
Your drills should be bloodless battles and your battles bloody drills.
www.d-a-r-t.org.uk

Posts: 156 | From: Buckinghamshire | Registered: Nov 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Iain Abernethy
Administrator


Icon 1 posted      Profile for Iain Abernethy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hi Guys,

Got to keep in brief otherwise I'll be late for the gym (have to give myself press-ups when that happens).

Mike - interesting post and you have a great way of expressing your thoughts ... and I like that as it gets me thinking too. A couple of quick points: I agree totally that there is a lack of consistency with regards to what is being called "kata". It's also right that what most of those here consider "kata" to be is different to the majority. OK, there is also plenty of different opinions on the board (a good thing!) but there is a general feel for what kata should be and you're also right that the key thing is not terminology, but that we cover all the bases in our training.

I also think that this "alternative view of kata" is increasingly becoming mainstream thanks to the efforts of people like ourselves. It's my view that unthinking "3K karate" will have had it's day in the next decade or two.

John - Great point as regards the term "Karate". I know a number of people who have also dropped the term to avoid confusion. As Gavin Mulholland has succinctly said elsewhere on this forum, "karate" is a huge cover all term that includes a massive range of very different pursuits. I still use "karate" to describe what I do ... but that said I always feel the need to add a prefix like "Jissen", "Practical" or "Applied".

I've also had the experience of teaching a strangle (from kata - Pinan Yodan to be precise) to a karateka whilst covering a class many years ago for him to ask "Why are we doing judo?". I also overheard a person from the same group say "I came here to learn some karate, not how to fight". Needless to say I stopped covering classes for that group [Wink]

Great topic this gents!

All the best,

Iain

--------------------
www.iainabernethy.com / "The aim of discussion should not be victory but progress." - Joseph Joubert

Posts: 1597 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mike t
Member


Icon 1 posted      Profile for mike t     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think its a VERY appropriate analogy, John, and its related to the topic. A point I often find myself repeating in discussions like these is: as a species, the way we learn to do any other physical task is by progressively more complex immersion in it. This is one of the reasons I think I have so many problems with typical kata methods.

Say you took a person who did not know how to swim and had them practice all the strokes on shore for a year or more but without ever getting them in the pool. You could teach all the breathing and technique you wanted. You could let them practice in a bathtub or under a sprinkler so they intellectually 'understood' what it meant to be wet. I would still bet that if you threw that person in the water they would drown, regardless of comprehension and developed musclememory, because they would have no concept of the sensation (mentally AND physically) of being IN THE WATER, and they would never have had to FIT the abstruction to reality. This is exactly what I am on about. Now contrast THAT to the method you are describing where the person starts out in the water with a flotation device and learns incrementally what they need to survive. It's not that the former approach couldn't POSSIBLY teach a person to swim, but which is more effective?

You also make an excellent point that its more helpful to be exposed to theoretical models (kata?) after you have 'gotten wet' so to speak. Theory is useful to the degree that it SUPPORTS application. Yes, society also needs a few collegiate level theoreticians who focus predominately on abstraction and ideas, but that's not what 'the everday guy in the field' needs. On the other hand, the everyday civillian in the field also doesn't really need a 'complete' fighting system, or rather, the completeness they need is defined differently (returning us to the idea that karate is 'only' a civillian protection method. This, in turn, calls into question the need for 900 locks, strikes, chokes, throws, submissions, joint destructions, and most of the lethal stuff we know; and raises the further question as to whether these things are really 'in' karate, or whether we now learn them because we want to and then rationalize thier inclusion to justify that our art can compete in a cage fight (jujutsu tournament, CQB, boxing match, whatever), too

Curious, since you are teaching application first, does this alter how you approach teaching the form when you eventually get to it? Does the representation of the form still end up generalized (one motion = many things) and how do you explain this / relate it back to the apps?

Also, regarding the applications you teach prior to the form...it would be an assumption on my part to conclude that the kata magically 'revealed' them to you through rigorous practice. So did you:

a) make up (ahem, I mean 'develop') applications through an R&D process ("bunkai", "kaisetsu", etc.) where you took the kata move and tried to 'fit' it to a personal protection task via experimentation with a partner?

Or,

b) 'discovered' or 'saw' or 'recognized' the appearance of the applications you are now teaching through some form of training OTHER than experimentation. For instance, I always use a throw as an example because its foreign to many karateka. But hypothetically, assuming one of your app's has a throw in it, did you first learn that throw from an external source (external meaning, anything not 'a', above including cross training, someone told you, you saw it in a book, in a video, etc.). And further, was this 'external source' what allowed you to finally 'recognize' the throws appearance in the form such that you could THEN pull it out and teach it? If so, how do you feel about this and do you see it as simply a justification for why OTHERS should train kata / bunkai when that's not the way you learned it? (I am not trying to trap you, I am truly curious). Does this become one of those justifcations underlying the completeness of karate I was just describing that may be a projection on our part?

Or,

c) did you first fit your most effective applications to particular protection tasks, then 'find' (i.e. abstract) their appearance in kata. Example would be I use a lot of two handed interceptions in blocking because they are effective, which as I gather you know can be 'read' in any crossing of the hands in kata. So to me, in this sense, application came FIRST, and then everything else from there is simply justification for a relationship back to kata (if I want to make one). Although I think in this case the kata can help us to understand potential RELATIONSHIPS between that application and other things based on its contextual placement in the form.

Or,

d) none of the above, and if so how did you go about both developing the applications and relating them back to the form you ended up teaching?

Realizing that no knowledge is obtained 'purely' and it was probably some combination of 'all of the above', I guess I am asking you to comment on which approach is closest, or got 'used the most' in reformatting your approach.

Right now I am really stuggling with the idea that everything I 'find' in kata is something I already know how to do. (at least at a conceptual level). Yes, technique X could be a sweep (as another example). I can RECOGNIZE this (discern) because I already know how to sweep and can recognize its mechanical operation 'appearing' in the form. So did the form 'teach' me that? I can't buy that anymore. I learned to sweep by doing it.

What the form can teach me, through the experimentation with the contextual placements of ALL the techniques AROUND that sweep is about the relationships between that sweep and other techniques. Some might see that as rudimentary support for what I have called adaptation and flow, but its important to understand that at this level the UNDERSTANDING IS ACADEMIC. To meet the definition of what I am conisdering flow, the technique needs to be executable in a free exercise. It may well be that a technique drawn from a kata COULD (or CAN be) trained to a level of successful execution. Again. however, this seems to me that the cart is driving the horse in terms of efficiency. I can also learn that lesson-- with a LOT less guesswork and without the 'error' resulting from 90% of trial and error-- simply by studying a LOT of contextually different sweeps and by trying to 'get to' that sweep (conceptually or principally) from different positions. If this activity is 'bunkai', then I have no trouble with it, but you don't need a traditional kata to do it; and from an efficiency standpoint, a traditional kata may actually be an inhibitor to adaptation development (albeit perhaps not a PROHIBITOR).

Iain, we crossed again, but I only have one coment: Why are we talking about judo? [Wink]

[ November 30, 2007, 06:38 PM: Message edited by: mike t ]

--------------------
Mike T.,
4th Dan Shorin Ryu

Posts: 1228 | From: West Michigan | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
jwt
Member


Icon 1 posted      Profile for jwt   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hi Mike,

Well firstly let me apologise - I missed one of your posts in the page change. So:

quote:
JWT, I am also really interested in the approach you describe (is that based on Pat McCarthy's methods?), as in this case kata is being used in a way that is representative to the student of ACTUAL tactical skills learned; and NOT as a collection of amorphous POTENTIAL to generate POSSIBLE tactical skills. To me, there is a huge difference in terms of approach, although I can see value from both ends of the stick, as it were. In other words, in making the above post, it was not my intention to IMPUGN the interpretive approach, merely to chalenge and question what I believe to be some of its more apparent limitations.
I've not had any real contact with PM. We have met at SENI but we didn't talk. I've read PM's bubishi translation and own (and only watched once) a tegumi video. To be honest I looked at the tegumi video and thought - that's nice, but why do you seem to be working a completely new skill set rather than reinforcing your existing one? Maybe I need to go back and look at it again - it has sat on my shelf unloved for about 5 years.

You've asked a large number of questions relative to my training regime and of course the Heian Flow System. So I'll give a shot at describing what I did.

When I was a student bunkai wasn't taught, but it was always the thing that interested me the most. I'd look at the pictures of bunkai in various available texts (names withheld to preserve reputations) and think wtf? I used to try out new ideas on any other karateka I could get to train with me outside class. From that I built up a platform of better bunkai, but it was unrealistic bunkai as it was bunkai versus purely Karate techniques.

When Iwas a 7th Kyu I fist started cross training and became aware that there were movements that looked like Karate that were being used in completely different ways. When I got to Brown Belt I started investigating pressure points and promptly built them into my bunkai. On reaching Shodan I joined a local aikido club 'to learn the locks and throws in Kata' - that was my aim. I stuck with Aikido because I liked the people and the flow of the techniques, and I like the water stuff we did when you would stand in the middle of a room and people would just go for you and you'd do whatever came to mind to unbalance and throw or lock them. I could see that the techniques (like the karate techniques as they were being taught) were not realistic, but the principles behind them were.

My entire approach to Karate changed with a single headbutt in a two person pincer movement in 1999. I realised that I was applying the right principles to the wrong environment and the wrong attacks, so I started looking at haov and researching it. This changed almost all my bunkai as it changed the range and the angles. Suddenly my bunkai got broader as I could see more uses for each technique.

Thus far my applications had come from a) and b). Now things changed and I no longer had people around me who were able or interested to train applications. As a result method d) came into play. Method d) - I wanted to explore all the possible close range applications I could think of for each Uke technique listed in Dynamic Karate (the big orange one). So I sat down at my computer and wrote a table of all the haov I could identify. I then printed out several copies of this table, wrote a technique at the top of each one and sat down to think. I visualised each haov attack and how the movements of that Uke technique could interact with it from a range of positions and how that would affect the body position of the attacker - I then noted down my findings. I did this for each and every uke technique and started to write a book on close range applications for 'blocks'. This gave me my basic repertoire.

The limitation to this method was isolation. Sometimes things go wrong and so you need to train follow throughs. As a result I was looking at stringing bits of these bunkai together. After a show and tell meeting with Bill Burgar, Ger O Dea and a number of other ADK folk I came away with a renewed desire to make some form of flow drill involving my way of teaching bunkai with the ability of people to change techniques back and forth plus use moves in Kata sequence (something I had seen Ger do in a basic form as part of his presentation). I already had a few drills but I wanted to see if I could make a comprehensive set. So, method d) again. I sat down and visualised the Kata movements, made a list of what effective criteria I wanted from the techniques, listed the haov, and started to design combinations to progressively get students linking movements together in an easy, logical and combat effective fashion. The biggest difficulty was that I decided to create not only a fighting system by interlinking my bunkai, but also a training system.

Now, when a student learns the applications first, and in particular learns the flow system, they already know the moves and lots of the sequences from the Kata. Solo practice thus becomes shadow boxing or training without a partner. What this means is that most of the time, you don't do the whole Kata. You visualise a situation, start the sequence and go through it. You might then visualise the same scenario but imagine a different movement or body turn on the part of the attacker causing you to shift into either another part of the same Kata or another part of the Heian. Practicing a Kata becomes a very different sort of exercise unless you make a clear decision just to stick to the rigid kata. At the end of the day the mnemonic is there to remind you of the variety of your options in your repertoire - it exists to keep you mindful of the range of possibilities open to you even though you may not use all of them all of the time.

So each motion in the Kata to my students represents many things - with some of them they could show you five different ways to use it (and if it occurs in a previous form) a number of other possible follow throughs and what would dictate which you used. I never say - this is Age Uke it is used for X. I always say 'so in this position we do Age Uke' (or rather I would if I used Japanese). But here is the crucial catch, to save time I don't teach (to my current students) the solo form any more - we just do the bunkai. If one of my students practices by himself though and executes a number of my drills solo - isn't he doing kata? When I pair up against the invisible man in my sitting room for a training session and go through a drill - am I not doing the Kata?

--------------------
Your drills should be bloodless battles and your battles bloody drills.
www.d-a-r-t.org.uk

Posts: 156 | From: Buckinghamshire | Registered: Nov 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
jungshin
Member


Icon 1 posted      Profile for jungshin   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
amen brother tichen [Big Grin]

--------------------
Paul o'Leary

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.
--General George S. Patton
ADK site JungShin TKD

Posts: 180 | From: Cork, Ireland | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mike t
Member


Icon 1 posted      Profile for mike t     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I had no idea I was talking to the John who wrote the Heian Flow book. (Meaning: I saw the post announcing your book and it piqued my interest but I haven't bought it). Actually, I posted to that thread that I was interested in reviews. Your last post and our discussion have bumped me off the fence, I will see if I can't pick it up for Christmas.

Man, I need to write a book! I feel like the only uncredentialed person around here... [Wink] [Wink]

Regarding your actual post, there is again a lot of stuff there I want to re-read and think about. I will again try to get back to it this weekend. Thanks for the reply.

--------------------
Mike T.,
4th Dan Shorin Ryu

Posts: 1228 | From: West Michigan | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
  This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.

Instant Graemlins
   


  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Home page

Copyright 2005 - 2010: IainAbernethy.com

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2