The last section of the Kukishin Bô is called “keiko sabaki gata” and consists in a series of 25 techniques. As always if you do not look at the kanji but only at the sounds, many meanings can be found in a good English dictionary.
keiko: training, practice, study
sabaki: deal with, handle; but also judgment, decision, verdict
gata (kata): mold, model; but also a person.
Therefore, we can understand the “keiko sabaki gata” as the study of how to deal with the other. But to be able to deal with the other we must learn first to deal with ourselves and this is where the personal training takes place. When we were kids or young students we were used to study “at home” the lessons received during the day. It must be the same in the dôjô. The dôjô like the university or the school is the place where the knowledge is transmitted. Our home is where we learn this knowledge to be able to use it afterwards.
This personal training is very important when it comes with the study of weapons as without a long time of repetition, it is nearly impossible to know how to handle the weapons. Over the last twenty years I have often spend time alone in the woods training with my jo, my bô, my yari or my naginata. There is no secret if you want to break the wall of the form you have to repeat them endlessly.
To help you in your personal training understand that the waza is only half of the technique, in a sense I consider the waza to be the omote. It gives you only half of the circle. It is your job to reverse the whole waza and to do it from the other side in order to get the ura. This is the way I have been learning on my own all these forms that I received in Japan over the years.
How to proceed?: you take one waza like gohô from the kukishin bô. You do it 50 times facing a tree. Then you reverse it completely by using the other side (here left) and you do it another 50 times. You do the same for each waza in a school. If you do that, I can assure you that your proficiency will increase a lot. At least it worked very well for me.
One last thing. The next day you will have forgotten those 5 to 10 waza that you worked. It is ok as what you are learning here is not to memorize with your brain but with your body.
If you do your homework properly you will learn much faster. But not only are you going to learn the movements faster, you are also going to learn a lot about yourself, your limits, your flaws. So by learning a given set of techniques you will develop the strength of your spirit and get better. Personally I see it as the real benefit of the keiko sabaki gata.
Now that you know yourself you can go back to the study of the ryû and “train the mold to make the decision”, i.e. keiko sabaki gata.
4 thoughts on “Ryûha: Homework Required”
I like the idea about training in the woods in front of a tree, since I like to do a lot of solo practice, trees have been some really great training friends. They don’t have ego & will always let me know where I stand. I will continue reading all your blog posts. When I have the money, I’ll certainly join Koimartialart.com to learn from your videos, but these days I’m a starving filmmaker, trying to make my break into the film industry.
Indeed. It seem’s that you have been filmed without knowing it 😉 lol :
I hope this short response conveyes how much more of this type of instruction we need. I’m not sure if its the gap in our culture; because I know little or nothing about the Japanese culture. But I would I assume that the training that takes place outside the Dojo “homework” starts in the Dojo. And so I part with this question does the business model of American Dojos address this or neglect this? Please Sir, we need more.