Sunday, March 10, 2013

Putting Spirit in Sword Kata

Morihei Ueshiba and son.
I'm reflecting on my Saturday training session. We covered many facets of TSYR. Ukemi practice, body throws, some very old, technical kata and finally batto (sword drawing) and sword kata. As I don't yet own my own sword, I was paired up with the only other guy there who was swordless and we practised kumitachi with bokken. We worked on the two sets from the Shoden level. We know these kata well now so we are now trying to refine them, refine them and refine them some more. One aspect we were working on is investing a stronger presence or spirit in our actions. When both people are deeply invested in the kata this creates an almost tangible tension that locks the two together. When the kata finally finishes, I feel a sense of relief or calmness as the tension falls away. It is incredibly meditative. 
I recently read that the key is to ensure that our training is intense enough is to encourage enough risk that we feel challenged but not overwhelmed. By providing a strong fighting spirit for our partner to deal with we help hone their edge. The difference between someone who is just going through the motions and someone who is fully invested in each moment is marked! The idea is to consider each kata a life and death scenario where you are looking for an opening in the other person's defences. There should be a feeling of pressing your opponent at all times, even when you are taking the role of the 'loser'. In this way you both develop and become stronger budoka for the experience.

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