Friday, November 10, 2006


Thinking of a martial art Nanbudo I practice, I have to work a lot on my very lousy lazy hip-movements. Among other things. I also have to work on my lousy lazy concentration. And those push ups. I am not any good when it comes to doing push ups, they are just driving me crazy. Sometimes my energy is rather destructive than creative. Lazy I can be as well; by all means lazy. But there are also some moments of enlightenment while training. The photo here shows Yoshinao Nanbu Doshu, the NANBUDO founder (thus Doshu, red belt). Great person. Anyway, for some time I have been thinking about a KATA. Perhaps you have heard about katas in karate. Nanbudo itself has roots in one karate style (Sankukai), but let's focus just on kata here. Some theory from Doshu's book. Kata is a sequence of techniques, imaginary combat against several opponents. You might also check out one more philosophic ARTICLE on kata in general.

Nanbudo has several kata-groups. I will introduce Advanced Katas only. Nanbu Shodan, the image of spring, Nanbu Nidan, the image of summer, Nanbu Sandan, the image of autumn, Nanbu Yondan, the image of winter and, finally, Nanbu Godan, the image of all four seasons. Briefly explained, all second words resemble numerals, from first to fifth. Much more I prefer the connection to nature. Four seasons. It seems our senseis (sensei is a black belt, a master, a teacher) have chosen timing for each so far practiced advanced kata just perfectly. Within the mild sense of spring arising, we have started to learn Nanbu Shodan. When spring has faded gently into summer, we were thaught Nanbu Nidan. Now, when leafless forests are whispering their memories to cold autumn winds, we have started to study Nanbu Sandan.

Kata is difficult to explain; you have to feel it to perform it, writes Doshu. In Japanese, kata is a form. Dealing with Japanese theatre style kabuki, I was surprised when discovering kabuki has katas too. Of course, but kabuki has dance forms. Still I dare to say theatre and Nanbudo have things in common. I feel kata as... a monologue. The actor is on stage alone, just she/he performing. The actor has to evoke emotional storms within her/his self. The actor's imagination has to create reality. To perform, actor has to feel first. The monologue can also be severe fight against one's own self. Within all, constant happiness of creativity.

The feeling of kata. The power of imagination. Imaginary combat becomes real combat. To feel the invisible hand you grasp. To feel the weight of the invisible body you throw. To feel how thick if the invisible opponent's forehead when concluding the first part of Nanbu Sandan. And so on. If done properly, kata featuers such a beauty, such a perfection. Martial art is an art indeed. Well, I would say a real kata feeling truly reaches beyond words... and there are years infront of me to find out this real kata feeling. I have to fight my lazyness and destructivity indeed.

1 comment:

kaneli said...

A good training can make a day. :)