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    Overteaching in Kata

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    Taigyo

    Posts : 2
    Join date : 2013-01-10

    Overteaching in Kata

    Post by Taigyo on Thu Jan 10, 2013 5:28 am

    Hi all, love the new digs.
    We recently had a gathering where the point was supposed to be to practice kata, but all of the people there that were teachers ended up trying to teach everyone and worrying about all sorts of fine points (me included). This got me to thinking about how my Judo and Koryu sensei actually teach kata. They do not worry so much about the fine points at first, give basic instructions to start with. Corrections are kept to a minimum (maybe one point per set) and students are allowed to grind away on them under supervision (not constantly interrupted). Of course with absolute beginners you may have to show them (not talk about it) again a few times until they are basically going in the right direction, but the point is to let them work on it.

    Hanon brought this up in the preceding thread. Especially in nage no kata. Do not worry so much about exact positioning and other niceties with beginners. Get them headed in the right direction first then make adjustments along the way.

    It is very easy to be drawn into over-teaching and become a pedantic blowhard(of course no one thinks of kata teachers in this way Smile ). You are so eager to share what you know, and probably your memory of all those corrections is fooling you. What you remember as endless corrections may actually have been spread out across time. I think this is also what may turn a lot of people off about kata, the endless corrections and negativity, they are not allowed to "do" anything. It seems like a dead exercise, some sort of shadow mockery of real Judo.

    There are a lot of metaphors for teaching students in steps. You cannot expect them to learn it all at one go. One popular one is peeling the onion. There are layers upon layers of meaning in kata, however you have to move along in a stepwise fashion, gaining skill at more basic levels before moving on to the next. As my koryu Sensei say, if you try to eat too much of the onion at one time, it will lead to indigestion. Another useful metaphor is polishing a piece of metal. First you polish it until there are shadows of light an dark visible, then polish it until you can see fuzzy but recognizable reflections, then in the final step you bring it to the point of perfect polish with all reflections sharp.

    So enough for metaphors I would suggest roughly these three levels of teaching for kata (and everything else for that matter). To use the example of nage no kata.

    1.Basic movements and their order
    2.Timing and kuzushi- techniques should start to "work" at least some of the time at this step
    3. All techniques should work, timing kuzushi and other factors such as mat position highly precise and polished.

    As for reigi (bowing, etc.) it should be brought along at the same pace. People get all wrapped around the axle about it because it is unfamiliar. The way to overcome it is to make it familiar, the way to do that is to work on it, a lot. As for the time for each step, I would guess that the first step would take at least 100 repetitions to get a solid grasp. Of course, simply by doing proper movement some techniques will start to emerge at this point, you do not need to hold people back. Not so sure about the second and third steps, some techniques will probably diverge at this point. The third step basically has no end. I have found that as you learn more about kata, you find there is more to learn about kata.





    Hanon

    Posts : 537
    Join date : 2012-12-31

    Re: Overteaching in Kata

    Post by Hanon on Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:00 am

    Very good post.

    Very good post indeed.

    You are a classic example of a fine judoka who I have watched, via the net, grow into a knowledgeable judoka who is able to write such a post. I am proud of you and your achievement.

    Regards,

    Mike
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    JudoSensei

    Posts : 170
    Join date : 2013-01-04
    Location : California

    Re: Overteaching in Kata

    Post by JudoSensei on Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:12 am

    Some people who practice kata regularly will go to a clinic or special gathering like the one you describe specifically to learn the finer points and get the benefit of interacting with the experts. These people should be brought to the side and given special attention.

    However, I agree that for most of us it is not useful to be told a million details that should be better when you are learning a new kata. I have travelled to kata clinics to learn a kata that I had no previous experience with, and after several hours or even an entire day I never had the opportunity to do it once. I think we see the same thing in many judo classes -- an instructor who talks too much -- but it is particularly common in kata and it does affect the enjoyment of the activity.

    Taigyo

    Posts : 2
    Join date : 2013-01-10

    Re: Overteaching in Kata

    Post by Taigyo on Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:22 am

    Thank you for your kind words.
    People who have a relatively advanced knowledge of kata can absorb much more detail (and in fact have probably been dying for the chance to ask the questions). Kata clinics are very useful for providing information and access to highly knowledgeable teachers that is largely unavailable in most dojo in this country (basically anything beyond nage no kata and you are pretty much out of luck). However, the idea that you can learn a kata in one day is kind of ridiculous, I do not think anyone expects to do more than get an introduction anyway. I have heard people with more kata training bemoan the fact that they never get beyond the basic intro stage, while the beginners are overwhelmed with detail. Ideally I suppose you would get the basic instruction in your home dojo, and only go to clinics for more specialized training and detail. Of course in an ideal world I would also have home beer delivery...

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