wdax wrote:This demonstration was part of the openeing ceremony of the Kata-WC in Kyoto. I was there - as some might know - but did not see it, because I was in the training dojo to prepare myself for die finals, which were immediately after the seremony.
Afterwards I heard some ironic comments like "strange interpretation of Koshiki-no-Kata" and thought I missed a Koshiki-no-Kata demo. I friend of mine had my videocamera and back in the hotel I wanted to check, what he recorded and then saw this Kito-ryu demonstration.
What surprised me - well. not really - is the fact, that people, who think the know something about Koshiki-no-Kata (and sometimes people like Budoitaly, who does know a lot about it) do not recognize, that this was not Koshiki-no-Kata.
Thank you for showing the courage and making the effort to talk some sense into people. Good to hear NBK tried so too.
I have been a fierce critic of kata demonstrations before, in particular of koshiki-no-kata, which is very dear, and which I spent half a life exploring, learning, research, discussing and practising, seeking out the few who are still rooted in tradition and have not sold out to the mere alternative of trying to please someone by maintaining good personal relationships to secure a higher dan promotion. In this context, I have found reading some of the comments here not just painful, but also embarrassing. Over time we all learn how to best communicate, thus it is not my purpose to start a flame war, a pissing contest or to be as acerbic as possible. But please, we are on a public forum and if taking very strong positions on such a complicated issue, better make sure that one knows what they are talking about.
As Wdax has correctly pointed out, this technically isn't koshiki-no-kata, that is to say, the term koshiki-no-kata was coined by Kanô-shihan only around the turn of the century for an exercise he lent entirely from one of the parent schools of Kôdôkan jûdô and preserved almost exactly as he had learnt it in the Takenaka-branch of this school, minus the combined armbar/choke. Before 1899 the kata in judo was simply called Kitô-ryû-no-kata. Within Kitô-ryû, the kata obviously is ot called "Kitô-ryû-no-kata" as doing so would make little sense to identify it as there are various other kata. The kata in the archival scrolls of the school is identified by the names of the 2, alternatively 3 series, which might differ between branches. As a whole, its proper name is "Kitô-ryû yoroi kumi-uchi-no-kata". That is what is shown in the video.
Trying to take today's geriatric and nonsensical approach of this kata within Kôdôkan as a standard is absurd and would reflect that one doesn't really know what one is talking about. The demonstration here is by no means bad, and is in fact by far the best I have seen in a long, long time. But, I am an educator and a researcher, and it is the objective of an educator to attempt to educate rather than to compete in pissing contests, so I'll do my best and maintain focus.
What you see here is not a completely fake exercise. The two people are actually interacting here. Yes, there are many problems too, but before getting into that, what is the purpose of kata ? It isn't to replicate some notes written on a page as it is in today's Kôdôkan or IJF. That in fact has nothing to do with kata. The main goal of kata is to improve your jûdô both technically and in terms of understanding. The quality of the demonstrations far outweighs that of any Westerner I have seen performing this in any championship such as EJU European championships, all who may have meticulously and rigidly adhered to the number of steps like little parrots swallowing without understanding what they were doing something a high-ranked Japanese or Westerner said. Above everything, as one evolves and understands kata, one should realize that it is free, and this demonstrations shows that too. They are not in the same absurd way obsessed by exactly where they are going to land as long as they stay on the tatami. It isn't as here as Westerners do where you see a 1+1 person exercise instead of a 2-person exercise.
The tori here is at least TRYING to the throw and although he doesn't always pull that off (FOR UNDERSTANDABLE REASONS) he does succeed in several occasions. NBK made a worthy note about a few things. Inoue-sensei, who is the person peforming, in the exercise years ago announced it was his last public demonstration due to advancing age and poor health. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard he must have trained to pull this off, because he is going into it much fierces and vigorous than in several of his demostrations from years ago and that despite him being even older. He isn't exactly 86 years old as NBK suggests, but still 81 and also 8th dan Kôdôkan. I challenge any of the Kôdôkan red and Santa Clause belts to pull this off. They are more occupied with their future in terms of obtaining a position than to make a proper critical study of this kata. Even the 50- and 60-year olds perform the geriatric version of it.
But to get back to the semantic issues, this also WAS how Koshiki-no-kata used to be performend in Kôdôkan and much closer to what it should be than anything you see today at the Kôdôkan. The two main differences are the changes in patterns, namely the absence of the diagonal position in technique 5-8, and differences in changing position side, and direction of displacement. These differences are due to Kotani. Kotani thought he was doing good making the kata more spacious in response to the ever larger becoming contest tatami. The Kôdôkan patters are easier to remember than those of Kitô-ryû. The second main difference has to do with the Daigo-tenure. Daigo-sensei has a certain obsession with striving to attain the inner mental calm exhibited by Kanô in his performances. However, it is impossible to transfer that sense of calm, which is not a motor skill, but the result of lifelong martial arts training and spiritual development. Daigo-sensei makes the major teaching mistake by confusing his students between "mental calm" and "physical slowliness". It isn't because you do everything very slowly that you have reached any inner calm. This equivalent is well known in music. There have been some great artists who had the unique ability to create unbearable tension in their interpretation. This was sometime expressed by the fact that they could stretch out notes without losing the drama or passion. The slowliness in that case was an EFFECT of their skill. However, in Daigo-sensei's approach you get the opposite. He has to work with people who contrary to him are clueless or have not reached the level to learn the intricacies of this kata, hence he emphasizes this calm in movements which are slow. It is this, as well as the long tenure of Kotan-sensei who was i charger of Koshiki-no-kata for a long time and very aged and unable to incisively perform this kata, that has caused this gliding off into a caricature of the kata, as we see in present day Kôdôkan performances. The kata is not at all intended to be 'slow'. The absurdity is very present in the first technique in Kôdôkan where a person heavy by his yoroi is out of balance, and both opponents move so slow, so detached that tori actually using force to keep uke from immediately falling down; that hardly makes any sense within the concept of maximum efficiency. Thus indeed the displacement, progressive in quicker successive steps as show here is correct. That does not mean that the movent itself is performed excelently, not there are issues, but it is still much better than in any other present-day Kôdôkan demonstration or any performance I have seen by Westerners.
Now we can go an critique all the flaws in this demonstration, but frankly there is little sense in doing so, since if any person reading here or in a docile way yearly attending the Kôdôkan International Kata course and holding the rank of woohooshidan, could demonstrate this kata at the same level, we'll talk. In the mean, choose what you want to do with your judo life, i.e. joining the club in Woohooshidan-holders of your country with a big fat Kôdôkan certificate you can't even read under your arm, or move your lazy ass striving for the spirit of the exercise and improving your judo irrespective of what another dim-witted woohooshidan who walked the national woohooshian path before you, said.
Oh, and by the way, this exercise is normally performed on the floor, not even on tatami. Now, about the flaws, I don't know if any of you have noticed that in the Illustrated Kôdôkan both i the 1986 and 1956 version the first serious is demostrated in its whole by Kanô-shihan, right ? Now, have you never wondered why on the Kôdôkan video/DVD of Koshiki-no-kata as well as a couple of other Kôdôkan video only 3 or 4 movements of this kata by Kanô are included and not the whole series, which clearly exists as shown by the pictures in the 1986 and 1956 books ? You know why ? Because the tribal chief of Kôdôkan, the allmighty great Kanô Jigorô, just like the sensei in this demosntration, also shows several flaws and problems. You want to talk about mistakes ? Alright. Systematic mistakes are loss of control, sometimes coordination that goes into hte mist, but again, we see the same by Kanô. Is this 'bad' ? If you think that this is 'bad', it is time for you to rethink kata and judo. Is it bad if you are thrown in randori ? No, of course not. You made mistake, lost balance, or the other one made optimal use of debana or sen-no-sen. That is what the practice of judo is, the mistakes are an integral part of judo, part of its learning mechanism. This isn't any different for kata. Mistakes in kata aren't something "really bad". It's also practice and the mistakes are tips towards improvement of your overall judo. What they are not, are pervers hints to subtract points so that in the end some enlightened clueless idiot can or would claim that this he should win because his end positoins deviates from where the Kôdôkan video says you should be. Who the f*ck gives a damn about where you are on the tatami. That is not kata. Let's take an extreme view here ... then one could say that in most conditions a performance isn't bad or failed at as long as you both still end up on the tatami, and where exactly you end up, I couldn't care less. I am exaggerating here just to make a point.
So, yes, loss of control and of coordination become dramatically visible when you are actually defending or reacting to an attack, but don't think for a second that the same lack of control and coordination isn't present in all the Westerns or Kôdôkan-sensei. When you completely fake the exercise as is done at the Kôdôkan today, it's not simply insufficient coordination and control, but in that case there simply is no coordination and control as there is no action interaction, and you know that uke will do his thing irrespective of what tori does. That's the deadwood kata we see at the Kôdôkan.
So, as critical as we may feel, I would recommend anyone here to just try out the very first technique as it should be done but while maintaining full control and coordination on a properly acting, attacking and resisting opponent. Good luck, and don't hesitate to come back tells us how you did. Take my worth for it that it is damn difficult. So, let's cut the 81-years+ sensei some slack here for with his frail and small body that has undergone illness and wear and tear and is still attempting to put as much realism and spirit in it as he can, despite a much heavier and larger uke (6th dan, not 7th dan) who is not exactly the most committed and stylish uke one can think of for this exercise. And when any of you guys is 81-years old and can perform it then at the same level, and anyone posts your videoclip here on the forum, I promise I will do my very best to defend your hoor and skill against any group of hooligans suggesting that it may be your pampers which are in the way and preventing you from filling the hall with your ki.