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A few questions about Kata in Koryu Bujutsu

 
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phyllobius
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 12:30 am    Post subject: A few questions about Kata in Koryu Bujutsu Reply with quote
Konnichiwa folks,

As I wander in the realm of Budo, trying to understand what was done back in the old days, some questions went to my mind:

-Are kata to be taught in a particular order, the one after the one, or altogether?

-Is there a methodology for Kata analysis?

-Were Kata created to convey a form? To build the body? the Mind? To teach strategies?

-Any ressources about that kind of "pedagogy"?

Many thanks for your attention.

Smokebomb!
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 1:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'm not sure what you are looking for, exactly. Depending on when you are thinking of the 'old days' here's something to consider:

Most 'new students', at least by the Sengoku period, probably already had a grounding in basics of using a sword. They'd probably been taught how to swing and cut since they were young. If they were getting more specialized training, that was something on top of their basics.

You hear of students 'mastering' a style in 1/2 to 2 years. This probably means they are given a scroll or something similar saying that they now know the techniques the master was trying to transmit and can teach them to others. I don't have a great amount of sources on what were the 'original' techniques, but so far I'm led to believe that some of the Sengoku 'schools' may have been no more than 5~10 techniques in total, though that could be a misconception on my part. More techniques were added throughout the Edo period, in most cases.

By the Edo period, I believe, you do have concepts of the 'omote' (outside) techniques, as well as the 'chuden', 'ura', 'kage', 'hiden' etc. techniques (various words describing either different levels, behind, hidden, etc.). The etymology here would suggest that you are only supposed to learn kata at your level (or at least you are expected to have a certain degree of mastery in those forms before others, indicating a type of progression).

Today, most koryu I've seen have a progression of some sort, where you learn the 'outer' kata first and then proceed through the curriculum, although the pace and how much you are taught at a given level can vary from teacher to teacher.

Not sure if that helps answer your question. There is a book on the theory of kata by Dave Lowry, I believe--I've not read it, but it may hold some thoughts on this subject for you.


-Josh
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Kogusoku
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 6:28 am    Post subject: Re: A few questions about Kata in Koryu Bujutsu Reply with quote
phyllobius wrote:
Konnichiwa folks,

As I wander in the realm of Budo, trying to understand what was done back in the old days, some questions went to my mind:


Quote:
-Are kata to be taught in a particular order, the one after the one, or altogether?


In a koryu bujutsu ryuha, you are going to see kata taught in a particular order (Junban) that helps the trainees segue from one technique to the next in the set in a logical flow.

This is of course, case-by-case since every ryuha has a very different way of doing things (e.g. mindset, teaching methodology, weapons usage, combative theory, etc.)

Quote:
-Is there a methodology for Kata analysis?


Depending on the ryuha, techniques will be hidden in a kata in almost plain view. Sometimes this involves just changing the timing or distance or sometimes even the weapon, depending on the ryuha.

Sometimes there's an omote and ura for the exact same kata and sometimes it's just listed as skill level differentials such as jo-ha-kyu or shoden-chuden-gokui (okuden).

Quote:
-Were Kata created to convey a form? To build the body? the Mind? To teach strategies?


All of the above and more.

Some kata for instance, in Shinto Muso-ryu jo or Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu are educational. If you look at the length and flow of the kata taught, they look like a battle royale where both uchidachi and shidachi cut, parry, evade and counter-cut in succession, which in a combative sense isn't realistic to certain situations that the ryuha are designed for (i.e. battlefield engagement).

This is done to build motor skills, physical fitness, alertness and presence of mind when in stress conditions. Kata also teach instinctive, ingrained responses that can be applied to almost any kind of physical assault either armed or unarmed.

Again, there's a plethora of things taught in koryu kata, depending on the ryuha in question, ranging from the physical to the esoteric.

Quote:
-Any resources about that kind of "pedagogy"?


The Dreager books, the Skoss books, Old School by Ellis Amdur and a number of others, but they're not in English.
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phyllobius
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Many thanks gentlement,seems like I have some hours of reading ahead...
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2007 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Koryu Books

Also have a bunch of online articles you can peruse for further information.
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phyllobius
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Arigatogozaimasu
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 11:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
No bother.
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rikoseishin
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
First off, I would like to apologize for my absence. The season is without doubt the busiest.

And I am glad to see this section still growing and more people becoming interested in koryu bujutsu. I have addressed this in other threads to tangents more suiting that subject. And would suggest reading those as well. But elaboration to the point of this point might be more appropriate.

When one considers the koryu bujutsu ryu ha for what their original purpose was, and see how they have evolved to their current state, one can be puzzled by what the true purpose of kata was. Yet ryu were a simple thing, in their beginnings, not much different from military training schools and institutions today. They were formed in order to give the students an understanding of combat and how to engage there in. To do this certain exercisers and routines were formed to build muscle memory and general familiarity with ones weapon and ways to utilize it in different situations. The more time passes these forms become more understood and redefined as they are tested in a battlefield setting. Some were not effective and some where, the latter being the ones we know today.

As to the specific questions put forth, first yes as mentioned all ryu have a specific curriculum if you will, in which kata are taught. This is not to say this is the way it has always been or will always be. The most prevalent example being Muso Jikiden Eishin ryu. Oe Masamichi reshaped the kata in to a new order that he, after experiencing combat, thought to be more useful in teaching students proper skill for life and death confrontations. But this is not the only case where things can be reorganized. If a particular, we will say menkyo kaiden just to avoid quibbles, decides to teach certain kata or a group thereof in a certain way but still teach how they are suppose to be taught, or perhaps he feels that kata from other ha of the school would be more useful in explaining different ways, such as Iwata Norikazu sensei's teaching of Shinomura ha along with Tanimura ha, then that is the way it is done in his dojo. But what ever the reasoning for who ever is teaching there is no stone carved way to teach kata in a particular order. However, most koryu bujutsu do have a way which works for them and this is what should be observed as the norm and correct way for that ryu.

I would like to address the question of analysis in a different way than what has been mentioned only to cover another basis of this sub topic. There is no one way to truly understand the real meaning behind kata. One can ascertain and assume the general flow of movements and an outcome. Although this too is sometimes not clear. To truly have any understanding of the kata of a ryu is to train in that ryu. This is still not a guarantee that you will learn all there is to know about the teaching, movements and intent of the kata. I remeber Izaki Takehiro soke of Itto Shoden Muto ryu saying that even now, this was a year or so ago, that he did not fully understand the meaning of all the kata. But the fact remians, the meaning of the kata are for the students of that ryu only.

Kata are designed for several reasons, again depending on the ryu ha from which they come. But all kata do share a few common grounds. They develop the body to perform certain movements easily do to repletion and muscle memory retention. When done right with a good teacher such things as fudoshn and zanshin begin to come into focus. And with these things an ability to evade the desire to give into anxiety and tension when involved in combat. And yes some ryu ha do involve spiritual and esoteric meaning to there kata. But again this can only be understood through training.

You have chosen something to wander in where resources are not very abundant unless you have a grasp of the language. A few do exist thankfully. Defiantly Koryu.com is the best internet and publishing resource. The books mentioned are works that anyone interested in koryu bujutsu should own, or at least read. However, the best way to answer your own question and to find the best resources is to join a koryu bujutsu, and train.
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phyllobius
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2007 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Many thanks for your answer.

Quote:
You have chosen something to wander in where resources are not very abundant unless you have a grasp of the language. A few do exist thankfully. Defiantly Koryu.com is the best internet and publishing resource. The books mentioned are works that anyone interested in koryu bujutsu should own, or at least read.


I've already ordered "Koryu Bujutsu" as a starter...

Quote:
However, the best way to answer your own question and to find the best resources is to join a koryu bujutsu, and train.

My location doesn't allow me that kind of pleasure (I'm too far South in the a** hole of France). I will keep a distant eye on the subject Sad

But many thanks to all of you.
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Kogusoku
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 4:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
What part of the south of France are you in?

I know of a dojo in the South of France that may be able to help you out.
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phyllobius
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2008 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Kogusoku wrote:
What part of the south of France are you in?

I know of a dojo in the South of France that may be able to help you out.


I shall be glad to have look if I'm able to. I'm located in Montpellier, Hérault, France, Europe. So far from Kyoto. WAAAAAH!
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Kogusoku
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
PM me when you have a chance.

I might be able to help you.
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