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    Gonosen-no-kata - The "Dutch Standard 2012"

    Jonesy
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    Post by Jonesy on Thu Jan 17, 2013 8:10 am

    Stevens
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    Post by Stevens on Fri Jul 19, 2013 10:05 pm

    At different seminars after aug. 2012 is spoken about wrong/right of this video and changes are made. The booklet belonging to this video says it is official, but the National Grading Commission says it's not! The official Dutch National judobody has no money to produce something herself. It's a shame for the Dutch judoka, because there's no official info-paper/booklet or video made, after bringing the new Dutch standard. Only the highgraded judoteachers got information of the National Grading Commission, but they have made different interpretations, teach and tell different things! As a Dutch student it is just hoping that you have a good and up-to-date teacher and for exams it'll be a lottery!
    Jonesy
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    Post by Jonesy on Sat Jul 20, 2013 10:21 pm

    There is considerable dilettantism associated with the teaching of kata in the Netherlands, and lots of bogus claims made about various standards. The only good point is that kata seems to be valued as an integral part of judo there - unlike the UK for example.


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    wdax

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    Post by wdax on Sun Jul 21, 2013 12:44 am

    From a distance it may look like this, but if one takes a closer look, one realizes, that the situation is far better.

    Like in every country, the teaching of kata in the Netherlands went in an own direction from the 1960s and later. People taught what they had in memory from the teachings of their teachers. Form generation to generation the path of kata went in local directions. We had the same in Germany and here the turning point was around 1996.

    This was the time, when the Kodokan released the kata-video series. Flights to and from Japan started to become cheaper and japanese sensei started to teach kata in europe. Additionally european teachers went to Japan to learn kata there.

    Of course it was a little bit different between Germany (where I know the situation very well) and the Netherlands (where I also have some insights). The diffenrece is mainly, that in Germany the direction completely turned towards Kodokan way of teaching kata. In contrast in the Netherlands a strong group invented the "busen"-standard, which lead to the absurd situation Jonesy is referring to. But one should not forget, that the contrast is because there is also a group, that tries to correct the drift away from the teachings of the Kodokan.

    There is a very active group working on kata, trying to improve the teaching and the role of kata in the judo-education. For example there is a Summer seminar in Amsterdam end of august. Additonally japanese sensei and teachers from other countries are invited every year for seminars. It progresses slowly, but surely.
    Cichorei Kano
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    Post by Cichorei Kano on Sun Jul 21, 2013 1:19 am

    wdax wrote:From a distance it may look like this, but if one takes a closer look, one realizes, that the situation is far better.

    Like in every country, the teaching of kata in the Netherlands went in an own direction from the 1960s and later. People taught what they had in memory from the teachings of their teachers. Form generation to generation the path of kata went in local directions. We had the same in Germany and here the turning point was around 1996.

    This was the time, when the Kodokan released the kata-video series. Flights to and from Japan started to become cheaper and japanese sensei started to teach kata in europe. Additionally european teachers went to Japan to learn kata there.

    Of course it was a little bit different between Germany (where I know the situation very well) and the Netherlands (where I also have some insights). The diffenrece is mainly, that in Germany the direction completely turned towards Kodokan way of teaching kata. In contrast in the Netherlands a strong group invented the "busen"-standard, which lead to the absurd situation Jonesy is referring to. But one should not forget, that the contrast is because there is also a group, that tries to correct the drift away from the teachings of the Kodokan.

    There is a very active group working on kata, trying to improve the teaching and the role of kata in the judo-education. For example there is a Summer seminar in Amsterdam end of august. Additonally  japanese sensei and teachers from other countries are invited every year for seminars. It progresses slowly, but surely.

    True, but I think there is a new evolution going on since approx. 2009. Something has changed since 1996, but I think most people do not yet recognize that new development.

    The new episode is where supposedly Western teachers who today are much more advanced than in the 1960s and themselves now hold very high dan ranks (7th, 8th or 9th dan) and assume themselves and are so perceived by their underlings to master the Kôdôkan level. Second part of that new evolution, is the dilution of kata knowledge within the Kôdôkan itself. None of the classically schooled sensei can perform any kata anymore. This too was not so in the past. Because of that there is a stagnation in kata knowledge abroad and a even a regression of kata knowledge in Japan. Most of what is now explained and perceived as the correct way to do kata due to an overemphasis on the mechanical replication of patterns is moving further and further from the essence of kata, just like the IJF judo shiai is moving further and further from judo. There are great internal problems at the Kôdôkan regarding kata. I have heard in person how young 5th dan sensei ridicule some of the older generation. I was disgusted once with the lack of respect two young sensei talked about Abe Ichirô's kata knowledge. Irrespective of whether one might or dislike Abe-sensei the man had been practising judo and kata longer than they are old and probably at a level beyond what they will ever master. I am not sure though what is the worst, the fact that they talk in that way, or the fact they appear to not be aware of that difference in skill.

    While none of the 10th dan-holders can perform themselves anymore, they have knowledge that is still rooted in essence, whereas the younger generation doesn't and performs mechanics in a sense where something needs to be done mechanically so or so, because that is how they have determined it should be. It is very noticeable to me that Abe and Daigo were still taught by Nagaoka in person. The young generation of Kôdôkan sensei cannot transgress the different levels of kata. Kata for them too is an exercise of spotting mistakes just like an Olympic ice skating performance. Furthermore, Daigo and Abe have during several recent conversations not been able to restrain themselves from lambasting some of the current 8th dan leading senior sensei at the Kodokan mostly because of not understanding what they are doing. Most of the current Western kata generation I have seen stalling over the past few years. Kata has between 1996-2010 improved and gained popularity in the West partly due to discovering a new niche, namely competing. It has increased the number of Westerners actively studying kata, and that is good. That increase in popularity has stopped. In fact, we now are at the point that couples are retiring from kata competition. Been there, done that. They have experienced it, done it now, it has lost its new attraction, and unlike yourself, not everyone has the potential and commitment to actually win champions and medals. Of those who always end up near the end, or who are always stuck in the middle and never just get that extra bit necessary for medals, many are starting to give up. It's not the giving up that is important here, but that with the disappearance of that extra motivator, their level stalls.

    For many Western judoka they have like you said greatly contributed and improved but they now have reached a limit they cannot exceed as they often lack the intellectual and cultural background to do so. They are limited to Western language sources, don't understand Japanese, are not familiar with any of the deeper concepts. There is a point where one can replicate mechanics with great perfection (cfr. the Romanian jû-no-kata girls), but where those mechanics somehow are detached from the core of the kata and have no soul. At that point the mechanics can improve only if such core would exist, but it cannot exist as perceiving that core is beyond their current intellectual-spiritual capacities. That is not unique to judo. It is very common in art. Look at all the Japanese, Chinese and Korean piano players playing Beethoven, Mozart of Debussy. They are enormously committed, technically gifted. But which of those very gifted Japanese, Korean or Chinese pianists can play Beethoven so you can rank them with Wilhelm Kempff, Wilhelm Bachaus, or Edwin Fischer ?  None. You try to explain to a Korean, Japanese of Chinese player that you want to hear more Sturm und Drang, try to explain to them that the playing should express Sehnsucht or be more Dionysian. They have no clue of this in a German romantic tradition. Why do you find in the list of great performances of Wagner's Ring or Parsifal names like Hans Knappertsbusch, Wilhelm Furtwängler, but no Korean, Japanese, or Chinese names ?  Exceptions to this exist, but they are very rare. Yo-yo ma, Uchida Mitsuko, Sumi Jo to name a few whose musical art has reached the level of "transcultural" where they have transcended those limits. The same in judo is possible. If judoka would invest in judo in terms of time commitment, intensity and length of serious study do the same as Yo-yo ma or Mitsuko Uchida have done and have the necessary intellectual capacities then they too can reach that what limits them now. No matter what, this will always remain an infinitesimally small sample, just like you could say that among the number of people who worldwide have a cello, the number who match Yo-yo ma, isn't very large.

    There is a level where the mechanics no longer exist in themselves, but are subject to the understanding. What makes Kempff's Mondscheinsonata interpretation so unique. Do you remember those hole-punched card that old organs used during fancy fairs ? In this way they have preserved, the playing of Rachmaninov. So, it's merely mechanical. Yet, when they replicated this, you could still recognize Rachmaninov himself playing. Thus the fact that it is possible through mere mechanical preservation to replicate the unique playing of someone, means that mechanics have a dimensions that includes those extra values. Why is this ? That is because silence becomes a part of sound. This is no different for kata. The mechanics of kata contain more than angles, and things that can be measured with classical measuring instruments. For example, in Koshiki-no-kata one of the very important things but also complicated things is rhyhm. We're not talking about musical rhytm, at least not in sense that most understand it that is to say as some kind of pattern of moving in/with time. In reality, rhythm in music is also far more complicated than in the more popular sense that is conveyed when someone shouts at you: "dude, you got no rhytm".

    Someone like Wagner made extensive use of rhythm and silences, really thoroughly different from someone like Bach, where rhythm is far more a mere mathematical process of time. In Wagner, as an outspoken romantic, rhythm is part of the soul of the music. Similarly, you could say that in judo there is the mathematical rhythm in a sense of how long a kata lasts; remember that I once told how a senior Kôdôkan sensei told me that Koshiki-no-kata should be about 8 minutes and how he now has a stopwatch with him when is judging kata ...

    That is what I mean, the nonsense in kata. It's not the mathematical rhythm that we are talking about, but the rhythm that governs the essence of what has happened. The Korean or Chinese conductor have the same music score of Siegfried's Rheinfahrt in front of them as Knappertsbusch or Furtwängler. The first two will play all notes in the correct order correct length. In the performances of the two last though, you will notice that they differ from each other, but in both you can actually see this Rheinfahrt in front of your eyes. And ... this is not just any Rheinfahrt, but Siegfried's. Try explaining this to the average Korean or Chinese or Japanese musician. Try even explaining what is so particular about the term Rhinefahrt. Try even explaining that to the average American. After all, Rhinefahrt in English is just Rhine journey. Yet, you do not have to explain to any cultured German or Austrian what Rheinfahrt means. Is it merely about a means of transport across a river ? Why the term Rheinfahrt ? The terms Oderfahrt and Weserfahrt also exists but you do not exactly find them in Wagner or as translations into other language. Point is, if you want, you could talk an hour about Rheinfahrt. But even if you succeed in making people understand what it is you now also need to teach them how to express that in the music. Good luck ! Even the term Rheinfahrt intrinsically has a rhytm in it. Perhaps somewhat strange, but I could probably say something like "move wie ein Rheinfahrt". It's not different in kata. Unless one is willing to make that investment to learn and unless the people teaching have this knowledge, kata will continue to stall for most people. Not everybody, of course. It didn't stagnate for Trevor Leggett. But he too made the investment not to be limited by the limitations of his teachers. He went over and above, learnt the language, sought out the teachers, and was sufficiently gifted to be aware of his own limits and seek out how to expand those.


    Last edited by Cichorei Kano on Sun Jul 21, 2013 2:32 am; edited 1 time in total


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    Post by wdax on Sun Jul 21, 2013 2:20 am

    Cichorei Kano wrote:(...) The new episode is where supposedly Western teachers who today are much more advanced than in the 1960s and themselves now hold very high dan ranks (7th, 8th or 9th dan) and assume themselves and are so perceived by their underlings to master the Kôdôkan level. Second part of that new evolution, is the dilution of kata knowledge within the Kôdôkan itself None of the classically schooled sensei can perform any kata anymore. This too was not so in the past. Because of that there is a stagnation in kata knowledge and most of what is now explained and perceived as the correct way to do kata is not, due to an overemphasis on the mechanical replication of patterns. (...)

    I fully agree, but I also see the beginning of the next step in evolution.

    There are some dedicated kata-practicioners in Europe, who work harder on their kata then ever before. These men and women see very well the limitations of the leading figures you mentioned. And I see a growing interest in what these players think and do. So I´m optmistic for the future, knowing very well that this will take time and knowing very well that human nature will make it very difficult.

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