Jonesy wrote:Do you attend the Kodokan kata course? As well as on the mat practice you need to understand the lessons that the kata teach - that can come from training under a knowledgable teacher or by reading around the topic. There is some good stuff out there, but you need to sort the wheat from the chaff.
The thing to avoid is trying to blindly replicate DVDs and films on You Tube as well as paying too much attention to IJF marking guidelines on salami-sliced big, medium and small mistakes. Either the kata shows good judo principles or it doesn't.
Which country are you in by the way?
My partner and I have not attended the Kodokan kata course, but have had the opportunity to attend some of the 'masterclasses' organised by the teaching staff after last years' Kyoto world championships, where we had the good fortune of learning from Mukai Sensei and Kariya Sensei, but which was far too short. I also saw -whom I later confirmed to be - Wdax sensei, but didn't approach him at that time because he was giving tips to another team. That said we do hope to attend the kata course sometime soon - perhaps even this year.
Whilst we primarily train with a view towards competing, it has always also been important for us as a pair to understand the reason behind each action. The story of the untrained but learning uke always intrigued us, and we always tried to work along those lines, focusing on executing the judo principles behind the kata, or at least what we understand it to be. Unfortunately with a lack of guidance this could go completely haywire. That's when we go back to books and videos and research - and this dojo has played a part, thank you everyone - to try and reconcile our learning.
We come from Singapore, where there is a small community of active judoka, and an even smaller community interested in Judo kata beyond what is required for dan grading. We had a fairly supportive management in our national federation, but it seems that has changed with a recent change. Within SouthEast Asia as a whole there seemed to be a concerted push for Kata, with Thailand Vietnam and Laos leading the charge, but even that seems to have come down a little bit. So in general there is a dearth of Kata knowledge in this part of the world, sadly.
Lurker wrote:One of the great but underrated things about Kata is that it can train your mental focus, concentration and the ability to shut out distractions. Many times this is overlooked, and so Judoka only practice performing a Kata under ideal conditions. Then when its time to do the Kata (at a grading, a demonstration, a competition) the conditions are different, and a lot of Judoka are thrown by this (pardon the pun). We try to shake ourselves up by doing things like:
- switch joseki around. If you always practice the Kata oriented a certain way in the Dojo, you'll start to rely on certain visual cues that are only present in your Dojo (the clock is there, the door is over there, the chairs are stacked on this side). Instead of relying on these, you must rely on your partner. So – flip around the direction you practice, or go sideways if your dojo has enough room;
- put on music in the background. Loud. It can be either music you don’t like, or music you do like. Either way, part way through your practice you’ll catch yourself listening to the music rather than focusing on the task at hand. This forces you to deal with a distraction, and get back on track.
- if you have control over the temperature in your dojo, turn it up. Make it uncomfortably warm (don’t of course make it unsafe!). Again, something else to distract you away from the Kata, and so something to force your self to re-orient and think about what you are doing.
You can probably think of other things to do that make sense in your Dojo. Practice dealing with distractions, practice getting back on focus – practice the mental aspect of your Kata as well as the physical. There are, of course, other mental aspects to Kata – but this is a start.
Thank you for your tips! One thing for sure, being from Singapore the weather here is something we have to contend with all the time. We sometimes train at a corner of the dojo while the shiai team is training, and that has proved challenging insofar as concentration goes. With music it gets even trickier; sometimes our pace goes off and follows the beat instead
That said we do try and work through these challenges. We've not tried switching the direction at which we do the set very much, so that's something I'll bring back to our table to explore.
However, what's a typical 'kata training session' like? For my partner and I usually we do warm ups, a bit of breakfalls, then go through a 'warm up set', win which we go through the kata sans throws. We then do one throwing set, talk through it after that, do one more set, talk through it, then work on any techniques we want to correct, before some PT on our own.