How do you study your Kata / Forms?

wab25

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So, I moved away from most of the other schools teaching Danzan Ryu. I have put together a small class and am teaching some people. However, my own study of Danzan Ryu has been modified. Not just because I am teaching, though that alone has helped me learn a lot. But, I don't have regular interaction with people that have more experience than I in DZR.

I was hoping to get some ideas from the folks here, on how you go about your personal study of your art. What have you done that has helped you dive deeper into your art? How have you found new applications? How have you found new principles or ideas in your art? How have you expanded your base knowledge?

I'll kick this off with a few examples of things I have done / am doing.

One thing I try, is to cross train with other arts and try my DZR in sparring / randori. (note I do not sandbag here, I let them know what I am doing... I also spend more time working on what they are teaching in the class that I am taking at the moment) When my tucus gets handed back to me, I take the opportunity to analyze what happened, and why I got thrashed. More often than not, the problem has been operator error, rather than a problem with the art. Many of these issues I have been able to fix... this has effected how I teach certain techniques. The light has come on many times, about why the kata has this funny bit in it... I guess I have to learn the hard way, to understand what is in the kata sometimes. (so far, I have sparred / trained with BJJ, Judo, Karate, MMA, TKD, Aikido, Kung Fu, Daito Ryu and a Systema guy... I learned a bunch from all of them)

Another thing I do is to look at each technique and/or Kata. At first each one seems to emphasize a different thing. One may focus on power, one on stance, one on off balancing, one on flow... I will then trade... Take the one focused on power and try to find where the off balancing is, in that same kata. Then I will look for the flow in the power kata... I keep finding all these "new" things in each technique / kata, that have really always been there. But, they are new to me.

What have/or do you guys do? I would like to try more things to get deeper into my art. Thanks in advance for the great ideas.
 

Christopher Adamchek

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If your founder or a key historical figure in your art has written a book as they often do, this is a great insight into their methodology and philosophy of their techniques. As for kata some of the things that make you think more about the practical application, we have trapped foot drill where you do your form with one leg that doesnt move, linear forms where you make the entire kata move forward, and bunkai with a partner feeling out what the techniques are for.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Your approach is pretty similar to my own. Cross-training (even just seminars) really seems to help me a lot with understanding my primary art better. Sometimes it lets me decide something isn't as useful as I'd been taught. Other times I figure out something has uses I was never exposed to. Often, it tweaks my approach in unexpected ways - new thoughts on kuzushi (off-balancing and disruption), new approaches to teaching, or just a sudden understanding of why that stupid stance is right for the technique.

I also think it's useful to step back and really play with the techniques. You need a partner for this, but take a technique you don't use much and go exploring. Look for every way you can find to apply it, even if it's REALLY awkward and roundabout. Sometimes the awkward ones give you an idea of how to apply it as a recovery to another technique, for instance - since you're possibly in an awkward position at that point, anyway.

And since you're basically working this alone, take advantage of the fact that there's nobody to be shocked by how you treat the sacred cows. Really question things, and ask yourself, "If I were the only person who knew this art right now, would there be a functional reason to leave this bit where it is, or to include it at all?" Note that I ask about the function of it - I can ask myself later if there's another reason I might keep it (it's fun to do, ties back to another art, or whatever). Your answers don't have to lead to actually changing the art, but they can certainly change how much time you spend on things, and how you present them.
 

_Simon_

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Nothing too much I can add @wab25, but loved what you wrote, and it's given me ideas. Awesome!

It's so fun sparring people from other styles I've found as well.

And kata is like that, very multidimensional, and some things become more apparent to you at different times. Often subtle, but powerful when you hone in on it. I like exploring kata sequences as THOUGH it was meant to emphasise something else, just to see how it fits or flows, for example doing those great big power movements in a slower, softer way often focusing more on balance and the feel of the movement at every inch. Sometimes it opens my eyes a bit and other times I can see why it was meant to be a bigger more powerful move.

And working to release excess tension in kata, just using what tension is necessary and how it affects the flow of a sequence. You find you can call upon it more consciously for those harder movements.

But I love the ideas, keep em comin if you have more!
 

_Simon_

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I know I may badger on a bit about this fellow haha, but this a great clip of demonstrating different depths and elements to work on in technique. He's explaining just a small sequence in the kata Jion, and even though I don't know the kata I completely get what he's saying, and can practice that feeling. And saying that every technique should have a different feel to it too is really cool..

 

donald1

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When I'm going over forms it's nice to have a partner. Someone who can point out your mistakes and vice versa. Recording yourself and so you can see your mistakes first hand helps. Personally I like to break forms down to one, two, three techniques or more depending on how good I have the techniques down.
 

_Simon_

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Just read of a fellow who used to train a Taichi form so slowly it was barely noticeable he was moving. Said it took him an hour to do it once.

I am sooo keen on trying that with a kata..... take an hour to do it just once. Would be so hard to time that... but maybe wise to try it at a speed that takes 10 minutes, then extend it. Could even count how many moves are in the kata, and divvy it up into certain minutes per technique. Have done slow-mo kata before but never that slow... that's next level...

Who's with me?!? [emoji14]
 

Gerry Seymour

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Just read of a fellow who used to train a Taichi form so slowly it was barely noticeable he was moving. Said it took him an hour to do it once.

I am sooo keen on trying that with a kata..... take an hour to do it just once. Would be so hard to time that... but maybe wise to try it at a speed that takes 10 minutes, then extend it. Could even count how many moves are in the kata, and divvy it up into certain minutes per technique. Have done slow-mo kata before but never that slow... that's next level...

Who's with me?!? [emoji14]
I've worked kata slow (not nearly that slow). I get impatient and speed up gradually without noticing. Which probably means I'd benefit from doing more slow kata, but I just don't do it often.
 

Danny T

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I know I may badger on a bit about this fellow haha, but this a great clip of demonstrating different depths and elements to work on in technique. He's explaining just a small sequence in the kata Jion, and even though I don't know the kata I completely get what he's saying, and can practice that feeling. And saying that every technique should have a different feel to it too is really cool..
So is this what is considered 'studying' kata?
I considering this drilling a particular strike and body mechanics taken from a movement within a kata.
 

Flying Crane

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Just read of a fellow who used to train a Taichi form so slowly it was barely noticeable he was moving. Said it took him an hour to do it once.

I am sooo keen on trying that with a kata..... take an hour to do it just once. Would be so hard to time that... but maybe wise to try it at a speed that takes 10 minutes, then extend it. Could even count how many moves are in the kata, and divvy it up into certain minutes per technique. Have done slow-mo kata before but never that slow... that's next level...

Who's with me?!? [emoji14]
The point of doing a taiji form is not simply to be slow. Being slow in and of itself is irrelevant, and the various taiji families have fast forms as well. So the definition of taiji is not do it slow.

The point of doing it slow is to work on learning to relax, and to correctly figure out how to use your center, your core, your body to move rather than moving from your limbs. This lets you get power from minimum effort.

So you move slowly so that you can be mindful of these issues and really pay attention to them. Making it slower and slower simply to hit a marker on a clock is not the point at all.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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train a Taichi form so slowly ...
Each and every move of your Taiji form should be equal to either 1 inhale, or 1 hale. If you use more than that to finish a punch, you are breaking the basic MA guideline - one should exhale when punch out, and inhale when pull back punch.

If your form has 30 moves. Have you considered to train the following ways?

1. Repeat move 1 20 times, repeat move 2 20 times, ... repeat move 30 20 times.
2. Repeat move 1- 5 20 times, repeat move 6-10 20 times, ... repeat move 25-30 20 times.
3. Repeat the whole form 20 times.

I like 2 better than both 1 and 3.

Who's with me?!?
I don't like slow speed training. The fast speed training can make me excited.

One of my favor speed testing is:

1. Both A and B have right side forward with hands drop next to the leg.
2. A use leading right hand to punch on B's back left shoulder.
3. If B can raise his leading right hand to block that punch, B wins that round. Otherwise B loses that round.
4. Test this for 5 rounds and decide the winner.
 
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Gerry Seymour

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Each and every move of your Taiji form should be equal to either 1 inhale, or 1 hale. If you use more than that to finish a punch, you are breaking the basic MA guideline - one should exhale when punch out, and inhale when pull back punch.

If your form has 30 moves. Have you considered to train the following ways?

1. Repeat move 1 20 times, repeat move 2 20 times, ... repeat move 30 20 times.
2. Repeat move 1- 5 20 times, repeat move 6-10 20 times, ... repeat move 25-30 20 times.
3. Repeat the whole form 20 times.

I like 2 better than both 1 and 3.


I don't like slow speed training. The fast speed training can make me excited.

One of my favor speed testing is:

1. Both A and B have right side forward with hands drop next to the leg.
2. A use leading right hand to punch on B's back left shoulder.
3. If B can raise his leading right hand to block that punch, B wins that round. Otherwise B loses that round.
4. Test this for 5 rounds and decide the winner.
I don't like slow-speed training, either. In my case, that's an indicator of a benefit I can get from it. You probably already have more patience than I do.
 

Yokozuna514

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Just read of a fellow who used to train a Taichi form so slowly it was barely noticeable he was moving. Said it took him an hour to do it once.

I am sooo keen on trying that with a kata..... take an hour to do it just once. Would be so hard to time that... but maybe wise to try it at a speed that takes 10 minutes, then extend it. Could even count how many moves are in the kata, and divvy it up into certain minutes per technique. Have done slow-mo kata before but never that slow... that's next level...

Who's with me?!? [emoji14]
I'm not actually sold on slow speed training either but it may have to do with not understanding the underlaying principle in doing kata in this way. I've actually come to think that when learning basic kata or teaching basic kata, the movements should be demonstrated more dynamically so that one understands how it feels to move with purpose (eg: A punch should be executed at punching speed for kumite. A block at blocking speed for kumite.) I've found that teaching beginners with a metronome tempo results in slow punches and slow blocks that are carried on as they move up in ranks and when they perform in tournaments. When the person understands the gross motor movements of the kata we can work on correcting form without losing the lessons gained from understanding how it feels to punch at full speed and block at full speed.

In the end, it is about practicing kata and doing it in such a way as to build a foundation of cumulative learning so as the techniques become more complex, the approach to learning will rest on feedback that is internal (does it feel right) as well as external (observer - yes that looks correct).

Also using variations of the same kata that changes directions, tempo, visual clues as well other stressors can challenge the approach to how kata is practiced and hopefully make it more interesting.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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I don't like slow-speed training, either. In my case, that's an indicator of a benefit I can get from it. You probably already have more patience than I do.
Of course if you train slow, your hand and foot can be coordinated better. But no matter how good that you can control your car in slow speed, if you can't drive on high way, your driving skill is useless.

What's more important?

1. Drive perfect in slow speed but can't drive on high way.
2. Does drive 100% perfect in slow speed, but can handle high way driving condition.

IMO, 2 > 1

If you can hit a big slow softball, it doesn't mean that you can hit a small fast baseball.
 

_Simon_

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So is this what is considered 'studying' kata?
I considering this drilling a particular strike and body mechanics taken from a movement within a kata.
Dunno!

Just posted it, thought it was fascinating. I saw it as taking a very small portion of a kata and working it in the way the kata was designed. But yeah technically you're right. All katas are drills in a way.
 

_Simon_

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The point of doing a taiji form is not simply to be slow. Being slow in and of itself is irrelevant, and the various taiji families have fast forms as well. So the definition of taiji is not do it slow.

The point of doing it slow is to work on learning to relax, and to correctly figure out how to use your center, your core, your body to move rather than moving from your limbs. This lets you get power from minimum effort.

So you move slowly so that you can be mindful of these issues and really pay attention to them. Making it slower and slower simply to hit a marker on a clock is not the point at all.
Yeah fair enough, and I certainly wasn't saying anything about the point of taiji. Just thought it would be fascinating to take a kata and train it in that fashion. Of course the time you do it is arbitrary for sure, but seemed a good practice in really feeling out every inch of the stance, transitions and techniques. Not just to do it slow, but for a specific purpose. It would certainly be a very limited focus and wouldn't allow for a proper flow of certain sequences.
 

_Simon_

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If your form has 30 moves. Have you considered to train the following ways?

1. Repeat move 1 20 times, repeat move 2 20 times, ... repeat move 30 20 times.
2. Repeat move 1- 5 20 times, repeat move 6-10 20 times, ... repeat move 25-30 20 times.
3. Repeat the whole form 20 times.

I like 2 better than both 1 and 3.

Ah yeah I have trained forms like that, quite like it! Especially training say moves 1-5 and certain other sequences over and over.
 

_Simon_

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I'm not actually sold on slow speed training either but it may have to do with not understanding the underlaying principle in doing kata in this way. I've actually come to think that when learning basic kata or teaching basic kata, the movements should be demonstrated more dynamically so that one understands how it feels to move with purpose (eg: A punch should be executed at punching speed for kumite. A block at blocking speed for kumite.) I've found that teaching beginners with a metronome tempo results in slow punches and slow blocks that are carried on as they move up in ranks and when they perform in tournaments. When the person understands the gross motor movements of the kata we can work on correcting form without losing the lessons gained from understanding how it feels to punch at full speed and block at full speed.

In the end, it is about practicing kata and doing it in such a way as to build a foundation of cumulative learning so as the techniques become more complex, the approach to learning will rest on feedback that is internal (does it feel right) as well as external (observer - yes that looks correct).

Also using variations of the same kata that changes directions, tempo, visual clues as well other stressors can challenge the approach to how kata is practiced and hopefully make it more interesting.
Yeah for sure, and makes sense. You don't want to really train something slow all the time if it's meant to be a movement of speed and quickness. But yeah, just fascinated me in trying it slow, solely to be mindful of every inch of every movement.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Yeah fair enough, and I certainly wasn't saying anything about the point of taiji. Just thought it would be fascinating to take a kata and train it in that fashion. Of course the time you do it is arbitrary for sure, but seemed a good practice in really feeling out every inch of the stance, transitions and techniques. Not just to do it slow, but for a specific purpose. It would certainly be a very limited focus and wouldn't allow for a proper flow of certain sequences.
It would also be a good practice in patience to see if you can keep the pace on the last few techniques in the form.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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Just read of a fellow who used to train a Taichi form so slowly it was barely noticeable he was moving. Said it took him an hour to do it once.
Can you do a

- flying side kick,
- spin hook kick,
- tornado kick,
- ...

in slow motion? You can't. This is why those jumping kicks are not included as part of the Taiji training.

Why do you allow any MA system to prevent you from jumping,
 
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