id you ever hear people say
“One Kata is enough for a lifetime.”
There was this idea that emerged over time. It had several insights at its basis, insights earned by sweat, pain and blood. For one, I noticed that learning a “higher” Kata led to my better understanding of previously learned Kata.
Ok, that’s pretty obvious.
Next, the longer and more complex Kata often contained the same techniques and combinations as the previously learned ones.
Pretty obvious, too.
So it seemed to me at least partially true that “simple” Kata constitute simplifications of “higher” Kata. In some cases there is no doubt: A statistical review of the technical content clearly confirmed this.
One day I was struck by the fact that certain tactics that are really handy and transport partially universal principles, are exclusively found in “higher” Kata. I am talking about Kata that are rarely taught, if ever. And these, to be honest, are where the fun begins.
So what I did was – put simple – writing down all techniques, stances, combinations etc. found in roundabout twenty Kata. For example, the oldest written and partially illustrated historical source I used for technical assessment is from 1930.
As many people know, I have spent years in practical and theoretical studies on the subject. I did benchmarking, standardization, comparisons on best practices, you name it. I made a scientific assessment of a large number of traditional design patterns and techniques.
In other words: I created a database of content which allowed for being analyzed. One thing I did was a redundancy analysis: I compared all the techniques and combinations and determined which only occurred once, which occurred repeatedly, how long the various combos are, etc.
I could tell you in a second how many Tsuki there are in all Kata of one of the schools I analyzed. Or how often the combination Jōdan-ura-uchi/Jōdan-uchi/Chūdan-zuki/Soto-uke appears, in what Kata and at which point exactly.
So, for example, I was able to very accurately determine recurrences.
Of course I gave numbers to each technique, too.
Besides the raw tecchnical content, I also placed special emphasis on the layout, or the design pattern. Like intros, outros, bridges, interludes, breaks, specific technical topics and combinations etc.
The master plan.
I decided on one such master plan – the layout rack of a high-profile Kata – to be used as a framework for my own Kata. By using my redundancy analysis, I than integrated other parts and gradually kept on elaborating the Kata.
While doing so I strictly adhered to the previously determined design principles.
In this way I included all the major techniques, combinations and tactics into nothing other than a classical framework.
Finally I created a “style sheet” and applied it to content and layout.
And thus I created my own practice beast, my own Kata.
The price for the above is high: It is very long and complex and contains the most difficult choreographies around. Honestly, I can hardly imagine that anyone will be able to learn the Kata without already knowing the underlying Kata and having practiced them for many years.
Naturally, it’s not a popular idea to create something oneself in this field of interest. Actually, it is considered an impertinence. I am completely aware of this. And I agree.
Yet, the point is:
what does a person claim?
I do not claim it to be an original Okinawan Kata.
I do claim that it is 100% based on Okinawan cudgel fencing, though.
I do not claim to have it learned from some old secret Okinawan master I met and who taught the Kata to me only before he disappeared forever.
I do claim that I trained hard and for many hours, months, and years on the verge of capacity under great teachers as well as on my own.
I also do claim that the Kata is the result of my personal interest-driven effort to apply modern design tools and first-class engineering to “create” an innovative, next-generation practice machine upon the classical templates that there are. And I do claim that I did it for me personally.
Many people will laught at this:
it is “l’art pour l’art”.
Some people will disagree on the idea itself, on the method used, etc. and critisize it. And I respect your opinion.
Yet it is non-negotiable. I am content with it.
In the end, the Kata is nothing but my personal tribute to traditional Okinawan cudgel fencing (Bōjutsu).
It’s just a tribute.
I baptized it Jiryō no Kon.
© 2014 – 2015, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.