Monday, May 28, 2012

feeling a bit kata-tonic...

so here, basically, is the rant:
i'm suffering from an imbalance. there has been an extreme focus on a long series of katas in my dojo, that, although listed in the curriculum of the art form, have become the art form as of late. i will not get into the debate of usefulness of kata--surely there is value--but when it starts to become a more intrinsic aspect of one's studies than technique itself, for me, personally, it feels like my overall skills start to suffer. i feel like i am doing an intense weight lifting regime on half my body, while the other side weakens from misuse.
also, an imbalance in studies is hard mentally. it seems as the list of forms becomes more extensive, the more i am just trying to memorize movements rather than understanding the katas. i would much prefer to embrace a few kata forms fully, than boast a list in the teens that i can only reproduce mechanically and/or robotically. maybe that's just me, though.
while i have massive respect for my sensei, i find this is the first time i am being tested to this degree. a lot of it, as said, is based out of a curriculum designed by someone else, years ago. this imbalance, it seems, tends to rear its head when a grading is imminent--which it is for myself--another aspect of the arts i am ambivalent toward.
however, for me, quitting is not an option. i still value what i am learning and value my fellow students and their friendships as well. one thing i have begun to do is cross-train in other art forms to find the balance i crave. and my empty feeling is subsiding--slowly. i have attended a few classes where technique has come to the fore again, and my heart re-balances quickly.
I liked the comments following my recent post on emptiness, and have picked out a snippet from Yamabushi to conclude this post with. (hope he doesn't mind).
"I believe it was Churchill once who said "When you are going through hell, keep going." Good motto for a martial artist - Keep Going."


  1. A martial art is a training method. Kata is a tool of that method.

  2. Good post, JC. I am glad that you have found an outlet (in another art, no less) to help bring back some balance for your training and life. I think you are also making a key distinction between the kata and the techniques. In karate I find it challenging to discover the technique in the kata. What may be of further help to you is to take some technique or variations you have worked on, and try to make them into a kata of your own. Not to displace the work of others, but as an exercise to understand your own work and that of others. How do you codify an exchange between people in a combat scenario?

    PS. I don't mind. Just glad to be of some help.