The more I train, I find I know very little.
When I do train though, I am searching out for the kotsu or “knack” of what is being transmitted.
To do this requires a particular focus and understanding of the feeling behind the training in the Dojo.
In order to practise, the uke and tori must assist in each others learning.
The beginning stages of the physical training can be related to SHU level. This is the stage of taking the time to learn set movements with set attacks. In this stage, there is no Henka or “variations”. The Tori is learning a new skill set and pursuing the training as an “in depth study of the self and uke”.
Nagato Shihan has said once, ” Move,Stop,Think.” The training is about moving with logic to learn the mechanics of the body, basic physics and the workings of the principals of timing,distance and angles.
You learn about leverage and how to achieve it with correct body movement.
We Move to an attack from uke and then Stop. At this point you can Think/observe your balance and that of your uke. You can see if you are in distance for another attack, does he/she have a hidden weapon, what is around you, does your angle of position put you in advantage or disadvantage, etc etc.
Training is about discovering your weak points and learning how to make them into strengths or how to make them work for you ( kyojutsu ). To do this, we must take the time and practise slowly so the mind,body and the technique can unify. This is Shin Gi Tai Ichi – the ultimate goal of the martial artist.
We are studying to live with balance. The process of learning Budou is helping us to ahcieve this. Just as there is a process to life, there is a process to learning.
Basically, people are trying to run before they can walk. People want to make the training “more realistic” by increasing attacks with speed, power and resistance. They do ths too quickly. They have not taken heed of the first code of the Dojo – Know that patience comes first.
The fact is, most of the training we recieve ( in a Shihans class ) is at a level where we are to “mimic” and learn their taijutsu. We do this to rid ourselves of our bad habits and learn to move correctly like our masters. We are all beginners in their class. If you are not, then you cannot learn. It is very important to generate the right mind set. This level of training is the first level. If you cannot get what is shown to you in the basic form, then how can you move forward and train in henka? You first have to have something ( SHU ) before you can break ( HA ) it.
The teacher asks his Uke to peform a set attack. The attack for this example shall be a right punch.
The Uke lunges at him with deep but centered attack with body. The teacher moves, captures the energy and redirects the energy to control the uke. He then asks everyone to “do just that”.
What is important during this stage, is that the students watching observe both the uke and tori during the demonstration. If the students want to try and gain a “feeling” of what was shown, they must “mimic” both roles the best they can.
Nagato Shihan has recently had to resort to lining people up in the dojo and counting out the sequence of movements while getting everyone to mimic him. It comes down to ” having a childs mind”. If the mind is cluttered and full of things ” we want to see” rather than empty and absoring directly the things ” that really are ” then we will always have difficulty learning.
In Dojo around the world, I see people who are Dan ranks that cannot even perform the basic te-sabaki ( hand movements ) for the Koshi Kihon Sanpo. As to help these people and also to help their students, I break the fundamental kata down into three physical skill sets.
When I do this, people can see their shortcomings in each waza. Then, after they can “see” ,they have the opportunity to practise and learn correctly. After these skill sets are mastered, then they are unified to complete the kata as we normally see them.
There are people that are offering ” Soke revision classes “. This is laughable. They are saying they can do it, or “they get it”. People that say that about themselves are strange. where can they go from there? Once you have got it, what do you do then? These people will fade away.
No Japanese Shihan says this at all, and they especially do not offer classes to teach you what Soke did the night before. These men have been training with him for over 40 years. Something to think about.
Training is about learning to open the “eyes of your soul” that little more. It is difficult for all of us to travel this road less travelled. However, as buyu, we can all support and nourish each others growth in many ways.