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#152332 - 06/03/05 03:03 PM 14 keys to understanding kata
kenposan Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/23/01
Posts: 633
Loc: Columbus, Ohio
Got this from Abernethy's newsletter and thought I'd pass it along.

THE 14 KEYS TO UNDERSTANDING KATA, by Iain Abernethy:

In our karate training we need to actively study and apply the katas; simply practising them is not enough. In this month’s newsletter, I’d like to briefly cover the fourteen key points needed to understand and make use of kata. Those who’ve read my books will be familiar with these fourteen keys. However, for those who have not read my books, I’m sure you’ll find these rules a useful start to your personal study of kata:

1 - Each form is a stand-alone self-protection system.
It is often said that specific forms are for a specific purpose eg defence against a staff etc. However, forms were created to record the full range of fighting techniques and principles. When analysing forms, be sure not to pigeonhole them and hence limit what you are looking for.

2 – All applications of the forms are designed to end the confrontation instantly.
There is a tendency for forms to be interpreted in an overly defensive way. Many interpretations would have every other movement applied as a block. Each and every movement of a form should endeavour to end the fight there and then. This may mean that the opponent is totally incapacitated (e.g. unconscious) or left in a very vulnerable position (eg on the floor whilst you are standing

3 – All parts of a movement are significant.
It is vital that you examine the movements of the forms in their entirety if you are to effectively understand their purpose. In particular, ‘chambering’ and ‘preparing’ motions are often not analysed in sufficient depth.

4 – Every kata move is designed for use in combat.
We often see movements of forms being explained as exercises to increase strength or improve balance. Certainly, forms are a good way to improve your physical condition, and certain moves do increase strength etc, but that is not their primary purpose. The primary purpose of every movement in a form is to disable an opponent in combat. All movements have direct combative functions.

5 – The angles at which the techniques are performed are important.
You are never changing angles simply to face a new opponent. In the vast majority of situations the opponent will be in front of you. The main exception being surprise attacks, and by definition you won’t know they are coming until it is too late! The form is telling you to position yourself at that angle in relation to the opponent. Being at the angle demonstrated by the form will increase the effectiveness of the technique in question.

6 – The stances are a vital component of the techniques.
A key part of effective fighting is ensuring that you use your bodyweight when applying techniques. The stances illustrate the weight distribution and leg position to be utilised during that technique. Remember that the correct use of bodyweight is an important part of ensuring our techniques are effective.

7 – Real fights are sloppy affairs and the way the application is performed will reflect this.
The movement in the form represents the ideal. However, real fights are very chaotic and hence you should not expect the movement to remain exactly the same as it appears in the form. Provided the movement is recognisable and is the same in essence, a slight loss of form is a good indicator that you are practising in a realistic manner. Visual appearance is an irrelevance. The effect of the technique is all that matters.

8 – There is a need for skills at every range.
To be a competent martial artist you need skills at all ranges of combat. Forms are not just striking and blocking drills, they are records of the full range of combative methods. If you’ve only had exposure to striking methods, then that is all you will see in your forms. This emphasises the need for your training to be as broad as possible.

9 – The likelihood of any attack must be considered.
A common error in martial circles is the misguided assumption that all able fighters will behave like able practitioners of their particular discipline. It is for this reason that the vast majority of books on karate katas show nothing in the way of applications other than ‘defences’ against ‘karate attacks’. In a self-protection situation, your assailant is very unlikely to behave like a martial artist in the dojo or the sporting environment. Forms are not about fighting other martial artists. They are about neutralising the aggression of an attacker, who is highly unlikely to use ‘martial arts techniques’, in an environment where no etiquette is observed or rules obeyed.

10 – Strikes should be delivered to anatomical weak points.
All the strikes in the forms should be aimed at suitable weak areas of the opponent’s anatomy. When analysing your forms you should have a clear idea of which area is under attack. Remember that the forms show the ideal movement. Real fights are intense and frantic affairs and the accurate placement of blows becomes extremely difficult once an altercation is underway. The key thing is to be able to strike the opponent with force. We aim for the weak points that are recorded in the forms, but the reality of combat means that the accurate landing of a blow should be viewed as a bonus.

11 – No kata techniques rely upon unpredictable actions from the opponent; however, predictable responses should be acknowledged.
I dislike any interpretation where your opponent / partner is required to perform certain actions in order to make the technique valid. A good interpretation or technique should require nothing from the opponent. However, there are some responses from the opponent that we can predict (i.e. the instinctive way in which the human body moves away from a source of pain).

12 – There are many effective applications for every movement.
You will often find that a movement in a form will have more than one effective application. Every one of us is different. It is my belief that everyone must use the forms in a way that works for them. We should all interpret and apply the forms in a way that complements our own strengths and weaknesses. I’m not saying we should radically change the forms; they are generally fine as they are. We should, however, ensure that we apply the techniques and concepts contained within the forms in a way that works for us as individuals.

Contrary to prevailing thought, understanding the forms is not the sole reserve of those who possess ‘the secrets’. Everyone can, and should, study the forms for themselves. This will undoubtedly mean that there will be some variations in opinion with regards to how certain movements and concepts should be applied. That is exactly how is should be! If someone interprets the forms in a different way to you, that does not invalidate your interpretation, or theirs.

13 – All applications must be workable in real situations.
It is common sense that a technique must be effective if it is to be deemed valid. However, an understanding of what makes techniques workable is a rarer commodity. It is very common to see the forms interpreted in a way that is overly complex, overly defensive, reliant on a passive or compliant attacker etc. It is vital that students are exposed to the sensations of combat if they are to be able to make informed decisions on what will work and what will not. It is for this reason that I believe the serious martial artist must engage in live, any-range, non-compliant sparring (see section 5 of this newsletter).

It seems blindingly obvious to me that if you wish to learn to fight, then you have to practise fighting. No amount of kata, pad work or drills will give you the required skills if you never progress to practise your techniques against a non-compliant opponent. If you’re going to be an able martial artist you need to experience the sensations of ‘combat’ first hand. In this way your knowledge will be factual, not theoretical. Hence, you’ll be in a better position to interpret the forms correctly.

14 – Endeavour to understand the principles upon which the techniques are based.
A form is essentially a record of a fighting system. When constructing the forms, it would make little sense to include every single technique in that system because the form would become impracticably long. A good fighter would understand that principles are much more important than techniques. Hence it would make more sense to record techniques that expressed the key principles of the fighting system.

Forms contain information on strikes, throws, chokes, locks, strangles, holds, groundwork etc. To try to fit all the various techniques into a single form would be impossible. We should endeavour to understand the principles upon which kata techniques are based, and then experiment with the many different ways in which those principles can be applied.
_________________________
The angry man will defeat himself in battle, as well as in life. -Samurai maxim

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#152333 - 06/05/05 12:57 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: kenposan]
hedkikr Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 02/28/05
Posts: 2827
Loc: Southern California, USA
Very Nice! Every one needs to read this!
_________________________
Ed Ichihara Smith - Shukokai

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#152334 - 06/05/05 01:50 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: kenposan]
BuDoc Offline
The doctor will see you now

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1067
Loc: USA and Abroad
Excellent post. This should be a "sticky" on the Kata forum.

Solid work Kenposan!

Page
_________________________
Medical Advisor for the Somolian National Sumo Team

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#152335 - 06/05/05 09:54 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: kenposan]
CdkwaN Offline
Member

Registered: 05/28/05
Posts: 28
Loc: Indiana
Kenpo, I applaud your very informative post!

Yours in the MA CdKwan

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#152336 - 06/05/05 10:17 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: CdkwaN]
oldman Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 5884
CdkwaN,
Welcome to Fighting arts. This is oldman. I'm CDK from the Kansas City area. Maybe we've met. I know a few folks in southern Indiana, and Kentucky. Choi, Crecilius, Lavanchy, Seig, Duncan. Any names ring a bell? Enjoy the online ride here. Don't forget your seatbelt. Feel free to shoot me an email if you like.

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#152337 - 06/05/05 10:44 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: kenposan]
SANCHIN31 Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3783
Loc: Arkansas, U.S.
kenposan,
Thanks for the post,good stuff.If anyone is interested Abernathy has a free e-book and news letters like this one availiable at his website.
_________________________
Skinny,Bald,and Handsome! Fightingarts Warrior of the year

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#152338 - 06/06/05 05:07 AM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: kenposan]
kempo_student Offline
Member

Registered: 03/16/05
Posts: 44
Loc: Venice, Italy
Great, great, great...
This is a must for everyone.
But i think also that we can add more principles to better understand katas.
Principle like Kyusho-jitsu and Kiai-jitsu that kata is full.

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#152339 - 06/06/05 09:03 AM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: oldman]
CdkwaN Offline
Member

Registered: 05/28/05
Posts: 28
Loc: Indiana
Thank you for the 'welcome' to the site Oldman! I really enjoy this forum. I have sent you a pm with a bit more info. Sincerely
Cd

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#152340 - 06/06/05 10:04 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: SANCHIN31]
kenposan Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/23/01
Posts: 633
Loc: Columbus, Ohio
Quote:

kenposan,
Thanks for the post,good stuff.If anyone is interested Abernathy has a free e-book and news letters like this one availiable at his website.




The free e-book is definately worth a look, it opened my eyes!
_________________________
The angry man will defeat himself in battle, as well as in life. -Samurai maxim

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#152341 - 06/07/05 12:28 AM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: kenposan]
SANCHIN31 Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3783
Loc: Arkansas, U.S.
You can get it here along with alot of other good articles. http://www.iainabernethy.com/
_________________________
Skinny,Bald,and Handsome! Fightingarts Warrior of the year

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#152342 - 12/15/05 05:29 AM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: SANCHIN31]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
bump
_________________________
The2nd ammendment, it makes all the others possible. <///<




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#152343 - 03/30/06 05:13 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: BrianS]
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
boo ya!
_________________________
The2nd ammendment, it makes all the others possible. <///<




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#152344 - 04/01/06 06:58 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: kenposan]
founderofryoute1 Offline
Member

Registered: 02/22/06
Posts: 88
Loc: Birmingham, UK
I’d just like to point out three contradictions that he makes:
1. He says not to pigeonhole kata but he has already pigeonholed them as self defence.
2. He says all parts of a movement from the kata are significant but also says that the visual appearance is an irrelevance.
3. He says that these are keys to understanding kata but implies that all interpretations are valid.

Martin
_________________________
Martin Clewett - Ryoute - Double Hand Grappling, Grip Grappling and Double Circle Grappling

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#152345 - 04/10/06 12:46 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: founderofryoute1]
GuitarNinja Offline
Member

Registered: 03/17/06
Posts: 182
Quote:

I’d just like to point out three contradictions that he makes:
1. He says not to pigeonhole kata but he has already pigeonholed them as self defence.
2. He says all parts of a movement from the kata are significant but also says that the visual appearance is an irrelevance.
3. He says that these are keys to understanding kata but implies that all interpretations are valid.

Martin




1) first and foremost karate = civilian self defense method, i think hes referring to pigeonhole as if not to say, this is always this, and this is always that, because it is everchanging.

2) every part of a movement has application, how it looks like in the kata is important, but what it looks like in actual application is irrelevant

3) using key guidelines to understand something more thoroughly is not the same thing is someones interpretation.

I find no inconsistencies in Ians work, I applaud him for his outstanding efforts.
_________________________
Mastery is in the practice itself.

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#152346 - 04/10/06 02:12 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: founderofryoute1]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
1. Thats not a pidgeonhole, thats a framework.
2. Meaning, the movements are fit to function in application, as oppossed to what looks visually or artisticly appealing. movements in kata are the ideal, but bad-guys don't always attack/react the way we want them to. - and there is the real challenge isn't it...fun stuff trying to understand principles well enough to adapt to real-time changes...even more fun when we have a knowledgeable instructor to prevent re-invention of the wheel or remove doubt what to use a wheel for.
3. Thats just being nice.

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#152347 - 04/10/06 07:21 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: Ed_Morris]
founderofryoute1 Offline
Member

Registered: 02/22/06
Posts: 88
Loc: Birmingham, UK

GuitarNinja
1a) Karate = Empty Hands
1b) If this is not always this and that is not always that and everything is ever-changing then you understand nothing.
2) How convenient!
3) The guide lines come from his interpretation.

Ed
1) Semantics Ed!
2) How convenient that kata don’t resemble their application.
3) What’s just being nice?
_________________________
Martin Clewett - Ryoute - Double Hand Grappling, Grip Grappling and Double Circle Grappling

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#152348 - 04/10/06 08:17 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: founderofryoute1]
oldman Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 5884
Martin,
I noticed on your site that your classes take place at a
Bhuddist center. I don't know if you are a member of that organization. I do not want to pry or contravene forum rules but I am interested. If that is the case would that be one of the primary reasons as to why you do not seem to focus on the more violent possibilties of kata's potential?

Mark

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#152349 - 04/10/06 11:34 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: founderofryoute1]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
1. not semantics this time...it's fundamentals. either you see it or you don't.

2. If I teach you how to throw a frisbee straight ahead, will I also need to teach you how to throw one higher in the air?

3. I just explained this very point to my 12 year old today, so it's still fresh: by saying 'anything works'...it doesn't mean 'everything works'...of course there are good/sucessful and bad/unsucessful techniques. but since the person writing it doesn't know the audience who will be reading, they will just say something to include everyone. Imagine if he wrote 'do it my way, or you'll die trying yours'. lol

It's ok, laugh. my son thinks I'm a nut too. ....but he understood. and he doesn't even do Karate anymore -he got bored. now he and his bro do Aikido and have fun.

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#152350 - 04/11/06 04:49 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: Ed_Morris]
founderofryoute1 Offline
Member

Registered: 02/22/06
Posts: 88
Loc: Birmingham, UK
Mark

Sorry to disappoint you but I’m not a Buddhist, and I’m not opposed to violence either, I just don’t think that kata describe violence.

Ed

1. What’s the difference between a pigeon hole and framework. They both place constraints on what kata can be.
2. You might think that to be an appropriate analogy but I don’t.
3. Oh now I understand you.

Martin
_________________________
Martin Clewett - Ryoute - Double Hand Grappling, Grip Grappling and Double Circle Grappling

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#152351 - 04/11/06 04:59 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: founderofryoute1]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
well...I guess it IS an issue of semantics since you moved it that way.

a framework is objective.
pidgeon holed is subjective.

My objective is self-defense...whats yours?

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#152352 - 04/11/06 06:37 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: founderofryoute1]
oldman Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 5884
Martin,
It is not a disappointment at all. I was cincerely interested to see if that was a factor in your process of developing of you art.

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#152353 - 04/11/06 08:31 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: oldman]
founderofryoute1 Offline
Member

Registered: 02/22/06
Posts: 88
Loc: Birmingham, UK
Ed

My objective is to understand kata. Framework, pigeon hole, call it what you will, but what makes any one set of constraints superior to any other set of constraints? I suppose if you remove all constrains then it is not possible analyse kata. However having too many makes your analyse bias. Therefore you should strip away as many constraints as possible until you have the bare minimum that allow you to analyse the kata, and that is best you can do. I guess my point is that the constraint that assumes that kata must be describing self defence could be stripped away without affecting ones ability of successfully analyse kata.

Mark

My old sensei Nathan Johnson certainly felt that Zen Buddhism was a factor in understanding kata. I felt that it clouds the issue because almost anything can be made to work in a “Zen” way. As far as I know he invented the idea that kata could contain double hand grappling techniques and since he influenced me, and I in turn influenced the other founders of Ryoute, I guess you could argue that Zen was a factor in the development of Ryoute.

I don’t see any reason why a kata could not contain violence but I think its style would differ substantially from that of karate kata (generally speaking).

Martin
_________________________
Martin Clewett - Ryoute - Double Hand Grappling, Grip Grappling and Double Circle Grappling

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#152354 - 04/11/06 09:26 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: founderofryoute1]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
thats correct. as far as you know. Some seek out a knowledgable instructor...some take the path of creating a style based on what they don't know.

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#152355 - 04/12/06 01:30 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: Ed_Morris]
founderofryoute1 Offline
Member

Registered: 02/22/06
Posts: 88
Loc: Birmingham, UK
The best instructor for me, is me.

Martin
_________________________
Martin Clewett - Ryoute - Double Hand Grappling, Grip Grappling and Double Circle Grappling

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#152356 - 04/12/06 03:34 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: founderofryoute1]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
If nobody can teach you anything that you can't teach to yourself, then why are you here on this site? surely there is nothing anyone can offer to you.
All of your arguments have been from the viewpoint that you are correct....that tells me you are not so good of a teacher for yourself yet.

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#152357 - 04/14/06 09:30 AM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: Ed_Morris]
founderofryoute1 Offline
Member

Registered: 02/22/06
Posts: 88
Loc: Birmingham, UK
I didn’t say that nobody can teach me anything that I can't teach to myself. This site has provided me with useful information. You yourself successful change my mind about taking a direction when it comes to analysis of kata. Of course I’m going to argue from the viewpoint that I am correct. As do you. I argue with myself on my own time and just because you don’t get to see it doesn’t mean I don’t do it.

Martin
_________________________
Martin Clewett - Ryoute - Double Hand Grappling, Grip Grappling and Double Circle Grappling

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#152358 - 04/14/06 10:13 AM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: founderofryoute1]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
Fair enough. you did say 'best teacher' not 'only teacher'.

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#152359 - 04/14/06 10:52 AM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: founderofryoute1]
Joss Offline
Dragon

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 567
"The best instructor for me, is me."

Learning by one's self means learning from experience. The process of doing so is limited to trial and error. Try something, decide it's a mistake, adjust, repeat, adjust, repeat, on and on. You are the mouse, in the maze, looking for the cheese.

In some endeavors this is workable. Not so much in others. In some it is quite painful and, in others, lethal. Perhaps learning to make music with a guitar, in comparison to EOD (disarming bombs), would illustrate this.

The alternative is to pursue shortcuts by using the already existing experience of others and building on it. A teacher is simply a short cut to the trial and error method. Granting a sufficiently long and healthy life span, though, a person can reach knowledge either way.

To claim that the best instructor for one's self IS one's self, however, presents a problem of logic. The existance of an instructor presupposes the presence of the student... since there really can't be an instructor without a student. To be a student is to be ignorant. To be an instructor is to have knowledge to share. How can one person be both?

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#152360 - 04/14/06 09:05 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: Joss]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
Quote:

To be a student is to be ignorant.





That must be why Professor Kano began wearing a "double wide" white belt when he was promoted. We are all "ignorant" at some level, no matter how long we train. Professor Kano knew that he was a beginner on another level no matter how far he progressed.

To consider yourself as having "mastered" an art is only arrogance, for there is always another level to be developed. That is why traditional arts have such a diversity in applications, while having such similarity in technique "at some level".

If the best teacher for me is me, then there is a fool for the teacher and a fool for the student, for MA skills are developed between combatants. Unless you're schizophrenic, you're going to have trouble being all things to yourself.

I used to be schizophrenic, but now, I'm okay... and so am I...



edited to fix quote


Edited by MattJ (04/18/06 05:31 PM)
_________________________
What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

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#152361 - 04/14/06 10:13 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: wristtwister]
Joss Offline
Dragon

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 567
We are all...students.

Some have just studied longer than others.



"...MA skills are developed between combatants."

Well. Yeah. There is that too.

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#152362 - 04/18/06 04:28 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: Joss]
founderofryoute1 Offline
Member

Registered: 02/22/06
Posts: 88
Loc: Birmingham, UK
Quote:

To be a student is to be ignorant. To be an instructor is to have knowledge to share. How can one person be both?




Socrates is often quoted as having said "The only thing I know that is that I know nothing". Actually this is a misquote, he decided that he was only wise in so far as that he recognised that he wasn't wise; as opposed to so called wise men at the time who did not.

Martin
_________________________
Martin Clewett - Ryoute - Double Hand Grappling, Grip Grappling and Double Circle Grappling

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#152363 - 04/18/06 05:37 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: Joss]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
Prolific

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Quote by Joss -

Quote:

To be a student is to be ignorant. To be an instructor is to have knowledge to share.




I have always thought of students as those who seek. Teachers I think of as those who are sought. But to imply that students know nothing is a bit harsh IMHO.
_________________________
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#152364 - 04/18/06 10:24 PM Re: 14 keys to understanding kata [Re: MattJ]
Joss Offline
Dragon

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 567
Ignorance is not all or nothing. Everyone knows something, even if it is very little. Yet even if it their knowedge is vast, no one knows everything. So we are all ignorant to some degree. When we are dissatisfied with our ignorance, we seek knowledge. A teacher is someone who has the knowledge we seek, and will share it.

Which is worse, a teacher without knowledge... or a student who denies his ignorance? Martial arts has both.

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