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Ju no kata and dynamic tension no, not Charles Atlas Rate Topic: -----

#1 User is offline   Taigyo 

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 08:43 PM

Been thinking about Ju no Kata and things people have said about how it should be done and I started thinking about dynamic tension. The way Charles Atlas used it (I think) was in terms of isometrics, continues muscle contraction against resistance. I have also had the experience of being uke for my sensei, he explains the throw as he slowly does it. Though he is moving slowly the throw is continuous, I am being thrown in slow motion drawn along relentlessly until he finishes it off with a quick snap. I think this is what we are looking for in Ju no Kata. Since it is done slowly most of us just kind of walk through it, no continuous tension between uke and tori. Now by tension I do not mean stiffness, but the same feeling I had as uke, the same feeling you have when you have control of your parteners movements in randori (though there it usually only lasts for a fraction of a second). This would also provide a rational explanation for the stories I have heard of Mifune senesi and his uke taking 30 minutes to do this kata with sweat pouring off them. It is no mysterious flow of ki, it is the continuous tension between them. They are not just strolling through the kata.
If this is the case, I wonder, has too much emphasis been placed on doing this kata slowly, at least for beginner-intermediates. Once you have learned the order and are trying to make the kata work it is much easier to get a feel of the interaction between uke and tori if you move a little bit faster. Not randori speed, but fast enough that you do not fall prey to the tendency to come to a stop between steps. Once the continuity and kuzushi becomes established then you can work on going slower and slower, all the while maintaining the tension. So the progression in this kata would be slow as you are learning the steps, speed up a bit to learn to maintain the kuzushi and tension and then work at going slower and slower while maintaining the kuzushi and tension.
Though this is a bit of a change from the common wisdom, I Tthink it will work well. When I work with others I always get comments about how fast I am going, but it feels so much more alive. When I go at their speed it just seems to be walking around.
When I work with very skilled partners I can feel the life of the kata even at very slow speeds, but I am just not there yet.
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#2 User is offline   wdax 

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 09:28 PM

I can share a little bit, how we practise Ju-no-Kata.

One of the key elements in training is IMHO variation. If you reapeat the same thing, it will always be the same and there will be no progress. Progress is only possible by a never ending process of variation and then stabilisation.

Do it very, very slowly, then do it fast. Do it without any resistance, then do it with maximum resistance. If you vary speed and resistance, you have two parameters to change...

Do it while explaining your key-points to yourself. Do it, while explaining your partners key-points to him. Do it with eyes closed, do it as a synchronized tandoku-renshu.

All this will help you to improve your kata.
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#3 User is offline   Taigyo 

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 03:05 AM

Interesting training regime. Switching up partners and randomizing the order of the techniques is also interesting.
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#4 User is offline   Cichorei Kano 

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 08:56 AM

View PostTaigyo, on 25 October 2010 - 06:43 AM, said:

Been thinking about Ju no Kata and things people have said about how it should be done and I started thinking about dynamic tension. The way Charles Atlas used it (I think) was in terms of isometrics, continues muscle contraction against resistance. I have also had the experience of being uke for my sensei, he explains the throw as he slowly does it. Though he is moving slowly the throw is continuous, I am being thrown in slow motion drawn along relentlessly until he finishes it off with a quick snap. I think this is what we are looking for in Ju no Kata. Since it is done slowly most of us just kind of walk through it, no continuous tension between uke and tori. Now by tension I do not mean stiffness, but the same feeling I had as uke, the same feeling you have when you have control of your parteners movements in randori (though there it usually only lasts for a fraction of a second). This would also provide a rational explanation for the stories I have heard of Mifune senesi and his uke taking 30 minutes to do this kata with sweat pouring off them. It is no mysterious flow of ki, it is the continuous tension between them. They are not just strolling through the kata.
If this is the case, I wonder, has too much emphasis been placed on doing this kata slowly, at least for beginner-intermediates. Once you have learned the order and are trying to make the kata work it is much easier to get a feel of the interaction between uke and tori if you move a little bit faster. Not randori speed, but fast enough that you do not fall prey to the tendency to come to a stop between steps. Once the continuity and kuzushi becomes established then you can work on going slower and slower, all the while maintaining the tension. So the progression in this kata would be slow as you are learning the steps, speed up a bit to learn to maintain the kuzushi and tension and then work at going slower and slower while maintaining the kuzushi and tension.
Though this is a bit of a change from the common wisdom, I Tthink it will work well. When I work with others I always get comments about how fast I am going, but it feels so much more alive. When I go at their speed it just seems to be walking around.
When I work with very skilled partners I can feel the life of the kata even at very slow speeds, but I am just not there yet.


When I learnt jû-no-kata first, it was very, very difficult to find competent instruction or books for this kata, or for anything in kata other than nage-, katame, and kime-no-kata. I remember being elated when I first found printed drawings of jû-no-kata. These came from my sensei. A friend of mine who wanted to be an architect later had a lot of drawing talent, so my sensei asked him if he could use his talent to make new, clean and better drawings of it. Those became my sole tool of support for learning jû-no-kata. When I did find instruction, the emphasis was completely on "learning the moves". It was very complicated without film or books, and difficult to remember. Jû-no-kata then was part of our highest teacher/coach certification and that was the first time I saw a detailed description. One advantage was that by that time I had switched clubs and my new teacher was the same one who taught the instructors/coach certification course, so I also had an opportunity to practice it in the club with him. Slowly the focus changed from "just knowing the moves and order" to some degree of "smoothness and transition".

I think what you are talking about goes a step further. What you refer to as 'tension' or "dynamic tension" I would call nothing else but simple 'control'. 'Control' as you have already pointed out, is essential for a jûdô technique (hence the feeling you have with the sensei you are referring to), but it is also essential in kata. I think that the US is in a privileged position for this particular kata, and I think that people like Keiko Fukuda and Eiko Shepherd do a good job in emphasizing that aspect, as also do all senior teachers of the Kôdôkan's joshi-bu. They go further than just the basics of this kata. This stage of control can almost not come before mastering the stages of "order of movement" and "smoothness in transition and fluency". I also think that not all teachers fully recognize the importance of the qualities you point out. Few things are more frustrating than running a jû-no-kata that excels in control (or in what you describe) only to hear the watching sensei after you finish, say: "you made a mistake here and there, your hand was wrong and you did not move your foot". These pedagogical approaches, or the lack thereof, kill off a lot of kata enthusiasm. For decades kata in the West was primary a tool to assess (and equally to flunk) people on jûdô rank tests. Kata became much an exercise of "negative scoring". The criteria you mention were ignored, forgotten or never realized, and instead the focuse became on a sheet with errors in positions, feet, hands, which the person made. This negative facilitation still is present, and has even increased with kata contests that have entered the international scene in the last decade. To some extent it is understandable as the criteria you mention are far more difficult to assess than simply looking at choreographic mistakes.

For these reasons I fear that the qualities you mention are today unfortunately limited to those jûdôka who are lucky enough to learn from a sensei who realizes and masters these qualities. After all, if you look at the IJF scoring criteria and description for jû-no-kata nothing of what you mention is withheld, and that is a pity. I can give specific examples of these issues. One is the first technique of jû-no-kata, in particular the end position. I remember very well at the final position as tori simply holding the stretched out arm of uke. That was all there was to it, I thought. Then one day Keiko Fukuda taught me that you actually had to pull this arm, which completely changes the movement and intention and position. That too injected considerable tension and control in the movement. Nobody had ever told me before, and no such thing is --to the best of my knowledge-- in the IJF criteria. But she was right, and with so many things these essential parts of control are crucial to the core of jû-no-kata.
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#5 User is offline   Taigyo 

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 08:28 PM

Further explorations in Ju no kata. The dynamic tension or control discussed earlier gets more difficult to maintain the slower you go. In the U.S. people tend to do Ju no Kata at a snails pace and anyone that speeds it up is strongly admonished. I went back and looked at the old Ju no Kata film with Kano sensei. It takes them about 2:45 to do the kata. CK and a few others mentioned earlier that this was filmed with an old hand cranked camera and was probably "undercranked" a bit. That is a lower exposure rate results in "speeded up" action, this was also apparently done deliberately on some films as a special effect (though I doubt it was here). A bit of research reveals that the target rate of hand cranked films was 16-18 frames per second, modern films are 24 frames per second. Of course with a hand crank there will be some variability, but I suspect that professional cameramen could maintain a pretty high level of consistency in their crank rate.

So, if one corrects for the difference in frame rate, Kano sensei's Ju no Kata would take aprox 6:00-6:30. Most of the world championship, etc. Ju no kata you find on you tube are 8:00-8:30. This is a pretty significant difference in total time. It might be a better comparison to compare, and correct for the duration of individual elements. In the Kano sensei version, they move pretty quickly between the elements (even taking into account the film rate issue) where in most of the modern examples the transitions tend to be slow, downright ponderous in some cases.

This post has been edited by Taigyo: 02 February 2012 - 08:30 PM

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#6 User is offline   Hanon 

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 10:45 PM

View PostTaigyo, on 03 February 2012 - 01:58 AM, said:

Further explorations in Ju no kata. The dynamic tension or control discussed earlier gets more difficult to maintain the slower you go. In the U.S. people tend to do Ju no Kata at a snails pace and anyone that speeds it up is strongly admonished. I went back and looked at the old Ju no Kata film with Kano sensei. It takes them about 2:45 to do the kata. CK and a few others mentioned earlier that this was filmed with an old hand cranked camera and was probably "undercranked" a bit. That is a lower exposure rate results in "speeded up" action, this was also apparently done deliberately on some films as a special effect (though I doubt it was here). A bit of research reveals that the target rate of hand cranked films was 16-18 frames per second, modern films are 24 frames per second. Of course with a hand crank there will be some variability, but I suspect that professional cameramen could maintain a pretty high level of consistency in their crank rate.

So, if one corrects for the difference in frame rate, Kano sensei's Ju no Kata would take aprox 6:00-6:30. Most of the world championship, etc. Ju no kata you find on you tube are 8:00-8:30. This is a pretty significant difference in total time. It might be a better comparison to compare, and correct for the duration of individual elements. In the Kano sensei version, they move pretty quickly between the elements (even taking into account the film rate issue) where in most of the modern examples the transitions tend to be slow, downright ponderous in some cases.


I dont know if my post will help you. I am also unsure if I am able to articulate what I need to write.

The ju no kata is not 15 waza! It is one.

Today the ju no kata is broken down into 15 actions. At the end of each action tori and, or, uke will even adjust gi and wait..

My sensei told me this kata more than any other is only one action and there can be no stops and no pauses one one has started. It is in reality only one movement. Now that movement should be performed at a given speed or rythem.

Many MANY years ago I saw the JNK being performed as a self defence kata! I jest not. Vigrous attacks and defences etc hard pushes and pulls.

One other very important point to remember is the JNK can be performed by non judoka not even in gi. What a non judoka will benefit from its practice will be totaly different from judoka.

I am affraid to write that many renditions of todays ju no kata even though practiced by judoka are of no greater benefit to them than those who do not practice judo.

All the kata can be and should be practiced to some degree as written by Dax sensei. Kata are working tool boxes and not fixed objects in themselves.

A GREAT concern to me is the rather frequent mentioning of the time it takes to perorm any given kata. I pray you will make the kata and never concern yourself by the man with a stop watch. EVERY kata rendition you make should and must be of a different duration IF IT IS KATA and not some form of theatre. Kata is alive and off great use to us at all ages if we progress through them in an orderly fashion with sensei who know what they are teaching.
If you find a teacher with a stop watch its time to rei of and find one who understands judo.

Remember ju no kata is only ONE action. Each action is a micro action that when added together must make a macro action that shows the principle of ju.

Just some thoughts for you.

Mike
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#7 User is offline   Taigyo 

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 11:07 PM

View PostHanon, on 02 February 2012 - 10:45 PM, said:

I dont know if my post will help you. I am also unsure if I am able to articulate what I need to write.

The ju no kata is not 15 waza! It is one.

Today the ju no kata is broken down into 15 actions. At the end of each action tori and, or, uke will even adjust gi and wait..

My sensei told me this kata more than any other is only one action and there can be no stops and no pauses one one has started. It is in reality only one movement. Now that movement should be performed at a given speed or rythem.

Many MANY years ago I saw the JNK being performed as a self defence kata! I jest not. Vigrous attacks and defences etc hard pushes and pulls.

One other very important point to remember is the JNK can be performed by non judoka not even in gi. What a non judoka will benefit from its practice will be totaly different from judoka.

I am affraid to write that many renditions of todays ju no kata even though practiced by judoka are of no greater benefit to them than those who do not practice judo.

All the kata can be and should be practiced to some degree as written by Dax sensei. Kata are working tool boxes and not fixed objects in themselves.

A GREAT concern to me is the rather frequent mentioning of the time it takes to perorm any given kata. I pray you will make the kata and never concern yourself by the man with a stop watch. EVERY kata rendition you make should and must be of a different duration IF IT IS KATA and not some form of theatre. Kata is alive and off great use to us at all ages if we progress through them in an orderly fashion with sensei who know what they are teaching.
If you find a teacher with a stop watch its time to rei of and find one who understands judo.

Remember ju no kata is only ONE action. Each action is a micro action that when added together must make a macro action that shows the principle of ju.

Just some thoughts for you.

Mike

Interesting point, I can see that in the film. There is no real break. There are two parts of kata, learning the book version, and passing it on as such, and your own interpretations (which you do not pass on). This is something you commonly encounter with throws, especially with Japanese. They know and can do the by the book version perfectly and typically will do this when asked for a particular throw. This is also what they would teach in a typical class. If you want to see their specific version, the only one you probably ever see them do in competition you must ask for that one specifically.
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