Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What is the Kata?

I found a thread on the about a french judoka and his fantastic ways of teaching judo concepts and principles. Someone added a photo of him and his uke doing kata in a village back in the day.

Yves Klein thoughts on the kata a quoted below.
“I always thought that it was much better to smash down doors rather than waste time looking for the key, and through lack of calm and coolness, to fail to even find the keyhole.

When I arrived in Japan I ridiculed the Katas and of all the secrets that were supposed to be hidden there.

Previously, in Europe, both Katas that I had practiced (Nage-no and Katemo-no) had not impressed me at all. I think today that it is because they had never been correctly taught to me.

I thus thought only of smashing doors with even more power and force, to “smash best,” more and more quickly, while I saw around me innumerable quantities of keys which seemed able to open doors without damage, without deploying useless power.

It took me a good six months in Japan, of sensational and unchained brawls, alongside wise and erudite Katas, before I came, exhausted, tired, and annoyed, to a final door that was too thick for me to break down. Finally, angrily, I took the key, that had been there all along, from one of the gently smiling old masters of the Kôdôkan. And I opened the door by quite simply turning the key in the lock.

It is only since I began the study of Katas that I have possessed the keys of Judo, “the keys of the famous doors, thick or not!”

…And the ordinary public does not see anything interesting in the fact that one opens a door with a key instead of smashing it down brutally. One says: “Yes, obviously, it is too simple, everyone can do it.” Yet to smash a door seems increasingly ludicrous!”

Foreword to Yves Klein’s “Les Fondements du Judo,” originally published 1954. English edition, “The Foundations of Judo,” trans. Ian Whittlesea (Everyday Press, 2009).

Igor Corréa and Yves Klein, Ju-no-kata, La Coupole, Paris, 1954. © 2010 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy Yves Klein Archives

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