Sunday, March 10, 2013

(Re) Defining “Basic”

  At our school/dojo, we are consistently refining the kyu-rank requirements curriculum (for our students). Some would view this as creating inconsistency (and therefor becoming confusing to our students).

  The changes that have been made, have been done to make their (our students) learning easier. To a great degree, those changes have amounted to the elimination of a number of the (previously taught) transitional requirements.

  As we often do, we were questioning some of the instructional methods that were being utilized (both by our school, and others in the industry). Though agreeing with the concept of staged/transitional instruction, the idea that those (intermediate) “stages” should be a part of the student's (rank) grade evaluation, didn't make sense (to us).

  This became most obvious to us, when students were performing Kata. When a student is shown the Kata Naihanchi Shodan (which is the first Kata shown to our students), they are shown to perform a skeleton method of performance for the Kata.

  Though technically, that manor of performing the Kata is correct (to anyone else, in another system), it is not how we (student's of Taika) should be performing the Kata.

  IMO, it is unfortunate that the people who are now running his Association chose to Back-up, and return to how the Kata was being practiced 20 years ago. Almost as soon as those “video tapes” (that's how long ago it was...) were released, Taika began the modifications to how he wanted the Kata performed (to represent RyuTe, and how he was teaching it).

  Even those tapes stated that what was shown was the introductory methods of their performance. What was demonstrated upon those tapes as “advanced”, are what is now shown (to the student) as soon as the student is able (commonly within a few weeks/months).

  To myself, this amounts to being a “bait and switch” game. I've watched instructors (again, from numerous systems) tell a student to do something one-way, then in a few month's, tell them to do it a different way (because one is more advanced than the other). I find this odd, because no mention was made of the previously shown method as being incomplete or basic?

  Taika used to complain (all the time) about there being no “basic/advanced” (there was only technique). This was especially true with kata. We (in our class) were reviewing the performance of a particular weapon's kata motions, and it was demonstrated how a particular motion should be performed.

  The motion made perfect sense to all of those who were present, but when asked, Taika had said that he had to simplify the manor that his student's (at that time) were performing the kata (because it was too difficult for those student's to replicate).

  Granted, the motion is difficult/awkward (initially), but once learned (and applied) it makes perfect sense (and clarifies the “clunky” motions that were previously being done in the Kata).

  Using this example as a reference, one can easily see how the open-hand Kata were (often) “simplified” as well. What many people have come to accept as the “way” that a Kata should be performed, is not necessarily correct.

  Knowing how Taika (eventually) expected the Kata to be performed, we are attempting to gravitate our students towards that goal, as being the one they are striving for, instead of the various staged levels of “basic” Kata performance (that are commonly being sold as levels of ability). 


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