Kata and Mei-kata Part 2/2


Once again I recruited the help of a passerby to take a couple of video clips for me in the park (someone who coincidentally turned out to be a local Wado Ryu tutor!). This is a follow-on to my last post about kata.

Te (Udun-di) does not have kata as such, which is effectively somebody else's thoughts frozen in time, codified and 'rigidified' into 'forms' or set patterns. Kata is a great way to learn lots of aspects of the arts, but it allows little room, if any, for the development of our own spontaneity, our intuitive 'self' - our subconscious. It doesn't allow for the 'art' in our martial art to be expressed in a personal way (except as in how we interpret the already 'set' movements of a kata) - although it can be viewed as building a conceptual platform from which to develop into such artfulness. Therefore for all it's pro's kata can also be seen as limiting in that after sufficient time studying them they can start to limit our imaginative, intuitive, spontaneous responses, rather than opening them up.

The first clip here is of some free-form Te-kobudo (in this case a Jo, or 4 ft staff), practice. As I'm on tar-mac I'm not dropping to one knee in these clips as I don't want to ruin my jeans, or my knees! 

Te works instead with 'formless-form' (mei-kate), which takes us fairly immediately into a personal and spontaneous development of our art. It is limited only by efficient martial principles of interactive movement, and an understanding of levers, fulcrums and how pressure-point application can affect our opponent and aid us. Also relevant to this is our own imagination and how much technique (kihon), we have learned - as we learn more te our mei-kata 'fills out' as our personal 'legend' evolves with us. 

In Te training we learn a great deal through personal exploration, discovering, with our teachers help, via the mediums of wrist/hand manipulation (tui-te), and 'dance-hand' (odori-te - a mode of freestyle applications taken to a compelling, but not damaging, level), and the sensitivity that this practice promotes.

To be able to tap into our own spontaneous intuition is what is required in a real situation. This is where 'mei-kata' come into it's own, allowing for 'rinki-ohen' (our responsiveness to the ever-changing development of a situation), to be worked on more directly than is possible with kata. Kata doesn't provide very well for the unexpected, or for what happens if our carefully imagined plans don't go according to that plan. As evidence of this I'd site the number of times that martial-sports people freeze under pressure and get caught-cold by their opponent. 
Despite various imaginative reverse-engineered interpretations, kata is not intended to deal with multiple, weapon-wielding opponents (the turns in kata are not to deal with a new opponent, they are generally teaching us about the angle to take to our opponent and how to accomplish throws etc).

This is one is my own humble attempts at mei-kata.


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