Martial Arts: Don’t Memorize Kata
We are fortunate to have so many wonderful kata that transmit the Bujinkan feeling in our martial arts training, but as a martial arts student trying to capture that feeling, how should we approach it?
What are some of the stages to consider in training kata?
The first, is naturally, being able to assemble the movements.
Working on just what is going on, and how one is moving using the methods of the Bujinkan- at this stage in the learning, while we are trying to always move in a smooth, relaxed, and natural way, breaking it down to steps is fine.
Step one, step two, step three, etc.
Work on getting the flow.
As you begin to assemble the parts of the kata and become a bit more confident, begin to focus on the distance, timing, and balance of it between you and your training partner.
At this point there is a bit of memorization going on, but ideally we don’t want to *memorize* the kata and get locked in.
Learning the kata is not just having it shown to you in a physical form or watching a video of it.
Learning involves having the kata done to you, catching the feeling of it, by various teachers, seniors, and shihan in the art.
When I am fortunate enough to meet shihan in the Bujinkan who are sharing kata, I’m always ready to be uke- can I catch the feeling that they are transmitting?
This arrives us at a point beyond memorization, being able to transmit and create what we have felt and experienced through the training.
Don’t turn it into an academic process.