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  • Aji

    Just wondering how people put aji into their kata/waza

    I know some people use counting, or just think of jo ha kyu in each movement

    Personally i try and look at the riai of the technique, and feel its rhythm that way.
    Counting doesnt work for me, so i try and find the different tones that make the 'music, of the kata...

    But my knowledge of iai is small, so i am sure such a rhythm will change as i understand the kata more.
    I can either make a technique flow constantly or put stops in, but to do both at the right moments is difficult.

    It's easy enough to follow another persons timing and rhythm, but is it then your own? We are all different after all...

  • #2
    Aji is not something you deliberately try to put in, it is something that might naturally develop as you train. It requires all the things that we think we need to study like johakyu and kankyu kyojaku, but what really matters is believing in your kasso tekki. If you can do that, then your movements will become realistic. BUt, and it is a big but, you mustn't look as though you are trying to fight. If your kata looks like a fight then you have missed the point, it should be controlled, controlling and in control, while dealing sharply and decisively with the enemy when, and only when, it is necessary to move. When you develop some of these aspects then aji will become apparent.

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    • #3
      Aji as in flavor (味)?

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      • #4
        yup, aji as in flavour

        thanks for the comments Peter

        I find it much easier to have a tekki in jikiden than in seitei gata

        as for 'having a fight', is that not what it is about?
        Indeed a 'fight' where we are sure to win (otherwise we would not choose to begin the kata)
        And every battle is about controlling the enemy so they do what you need them to do in order to 'win'...

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        • #5
          yes.

          In this context is is an analogy with adding that little bit of spice or seasoning to food that lifts it out of the ordinary and makes people take notice.

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          • #6
            How does one do it in seitei without it looking 'too koryu'?

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            • #7
              I don't know what you mean. Seitei and koryu are only different in small details of sword path and so on. Timing and feeling of Omori Ryu and Seitei are almost identical. There is too much of a deal made about this, with people wanting Omori ryu to be more "real" and thinking Seitei is in some way "artificial". They are both artificial, but the internal feeling you are trying to develop is equally real in both.

              And no, it's not about "having a fight", it's about dealing with an enemy in the simplest most economical manner possible, and as an art form it is also about controlling your posture and emotions. Maintain jiku, shisei, zanshin etc. Having a fight is something quite different.

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              • #8
                When I was in Japan doing my training for a yondan shinsa at a dojo who many of my Brit friends will know and love. I was told by Sensei that my shape was okay, but I now had to introduce "fighting". This concept was hammered into me over the two weeks there. Now whether this was inexact translation, I am not sure. But Sensei would wander through the dojo observing and repeating "fighting" I used the word combined with closely watching the demonstrated examples to base my interpretation. The "fighting" was the constant instruction and theme throughout the visit.

                I think I understand and agree with what Peter is saying in that you are not "having a fight" ie. an exchange of blows, more you are demonstrating a "fighting spirit". Further more, my interpretation is, amongst other aspects, to be demonstrating effective "killing" with control.

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                • #9
                  Without having been there, and knowing, as you say that you (and perhaps others?) were preparing for yon dan, then I would interpret what your sensei was saying exactly as you have. Until 3rd dan Iaido is little more than trying to remember and repeat movements with reasonable accuracy. From 4th dan it needs to have a feeling of reality. Of course there is a fighting spirit to be created, which is a matter of timing and definition in movement (kime for example). The word "fighting" and the term "having a fight" tend to conjour images and feelings that are not what are required. It is difficult to be precise in words, out of context, and given that everyone associates different things with the same word.

                  Did you pass?

                  Interestingly, in my gradual preparation (only 6 years to go!) for hachidan, I am repeatedly told not to be aggressive, not to be looking for a fight, to relax, not to be so violent. That this intensity is ok for nanadan, but not hachidan, etc. Perhaps we are just on different parts of the same curve.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Peter West View Post
                    Without having been there, and knowing, as you say that you (and perhaps others?) were preparing for yon dan, then I would interpret what your sensei was saying exactly as you have. Until 3rd dan Iaido is little more than trying to remember and repeat movements with reasonable accuracy. From 4th dan it needs to have a feeling of reality. Of course there is a fighting spirit to be created, which is a matter of timing and definition in movement (kime for example). The word "fighting" and the term "having a fight" tend to conjour images and feelings that are not what are required. It is difficult to be precise in words, out of context, and given that everyone associates different things with the same word.

                    Did you pass?

                    Interestingly, in my gradual preparation (only 6 years to go!) for hachidan, I am repeatedly told not to be aggressive, not to be looking for a fight, to relax, not to be so violent. That this intensity is ok for nanadan, but not hachidan, etc. Perhaps we are just on different parts of the same curve.
                    Cheers Peter, Yep, thankfully I did pass Iai and Jo Yondan on that trip! There was another concept that was important to my development. I can't recall the exact term but I think it sounded something like meri (meddi) hari (haddi)??? Basically to have some flow, meaning and balance to the story I am telling - essentially not being monotone in the expression. I needed to soften some areas and sharpen others.

                    I understand what you are saying with there being different emphasis for different (higher levels) - I just can't do them yet! LOL.

                    I think "definite" could be easily swapped for the word fighting in the context that it was given to me, as in be definite in the action . I certainly didn't interpret it as being more violent. The same lessons needed to be applied to my Jodo, although I probably wasn't as far off on arrival as I was with my Iai.

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                    • #11
                      Merihari is indeed a concept that needs some attention, though I'd have thought yon dan was a little early to give it any weight,

                      Kan kyu kyo jaku is important now, that is the contrasts of soft and hard, fast and slow etc, etc. making sure those contrasts are in place and in the right places. Merihari describes your personal method of making the transitions between these opposites, but at first just making them happen is a challenge in itself, deliberately controlling the transitions can only come when they are naturally part of your movements.

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                      • #12
                        Iwata sensei taught us things even if they were 'above our level'
                        Maybe this was because he knew he had to share as much as possible in such a short time
                        But I think also it was to get us to think more than just the standard 1,2,3.
                        Some people can grasp these things at mudan whereas others struggle even later on.

                        Though i have been told to give my iai more flow and show the telling of the story, I didn't know there was a term to match it, so thanks for that insight.

                        As for 'fighting', life is a 'fight' or a struggle, iai is the same.
                        Peter, you say that we are dealing with an enemy in as economic a manner as possible
                        This is true, but in reality it doesn't always go as smoothly as if it were purely kata, and one would have to struggle (fight) to gain the control over the enemy to deal with them in such a fashion.
                        Should we not have this in mind when practicing against an invisible opponent also? Which then gives the thing more flavour?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rottunpunk View Post
                          Peter, you say that we are dealing with an enemy in as economic a manner as possible
                          This is true, but in reality it doesn't always go as smoothly as if it were purely kata, and one would have to struggle (fight) to gain the control over the enemy to deal with them in such a fashion.
                          Should we not have this in mind when practicing against an invisible opponent also? Which then gives the thing more flavour?
                          Surely the answer is in the question, after all we are discussing method in performance of kata, so why should we consider if the kata didn't work?

                          Of course technique goes beyond kata, and in a real situation you cannot rely on the kata, but here we are discussing the kata and how to perform it.

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                          • #14
                            Indeed we are.
                            I try to perform kata as though it were a real situation...so that feeling of a struggle (fight) is included
                            Though admittedly my iai is very immature, and my seitei even more so.

                            Maybe after 50 years i may come close to finding the answer

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                            • #15
                              Forgot to add....
                              Iwata sensei states that if you do gihou properly with a real situation in mind, it will have aji, and as a consequence it will change from the standard way depending on how tekki reacts...

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