Thursday, May 28, 2009

“I Don’t Know”

“I Don’t Know.” I hear myself saying that in the dojo more frequently these days. We have been working on the kata Odo no Kama Ichi and Tsuken Akachono Nunte Bo. My history with these kata is something like this:

Practice – Learn – No practice – Forget – Review – Remember

I have forgotten these two kata more times, than I care to count. Why? It is simple. I do not practice them regularly. There are 30 weapons kata and 21 open hand kata in Okinawa Kenpo. The kama kata and the nunte bo kata are Yondan requirements. These kata do not often make an appearance during the regularly scheduled classes.

During the last two weeks, we have focused on kama and nunte bo. My husband and I were taught these kata at different times from different class instructors. Our kata are slightly different. We know there have been some corrections to these particular kata through the years. Is it a pivot step back or a shift step back in kama? Is it an overhead on guard or an overhead strike in nunte bo? In kama, is it left over right or right over left? How much rotation on the hook in nunte bo?


I love the details.

It is ok to say “I don’t know”.

View it as an opportunity for discovery.


Anonymous said...

“I don’t know”! – was the favorite answer of the famous ancient philosopher Aristotle.
“So, why you are paid so much when you don’t know?”-some people asked him.
Well, I’m paid for things I know. If I was paid for things I don’t know, there’s no so much money on the world for my payment.

Hack Shaft said...

John Vesia has a great post about this:

John W. Zimmer said...

That's a lot of kata to remember! I always had to bone up before each test and if I had to teach a belt level. In our flavor of American Kenpo, we have 17 kata and 240 self-defense techniques... way more than I can remember easily. :)

There are always variances in kata from instructor to instructor... so what I have done is whenever I relearn something... my body remembers what felt right (even though I did not remember until I got the refresher.

Hang in there... some day you will know everything (quite an elusive thought) :)

Michele said...

Sensei: Thank you for comment and sharing the information about Aristotle.

Hack Shaft: Thanks for the recommended post. Another great post from John Vesia.

John: Thank you for your comments.

Wow...240 self-defense techniques...and I thought 51 kata was a lot!

I agree...I often find that my body remembers the correct movements before my brain. There is a lifetime of learning in the martial arts. The thought of knowing all the kata is very elusive indeed.

Steve said...

Hey, just checking in. It's been a while since you posted.

Urban Samurai said...

It's easy to feel pressured at times in the dojo, especially if you're a teacher. You feel you should know all there is to know, which is impossible at the end of the day. I don't know a lot of stuff but I try to learn as much as I can. My style has very few katas compared to most traditional styles but we have 1000's of techniques. I don't even try to learn them all. Instead I try to master the ones I do know. I think this is more important, especially if teaching them to other people. Sometimes we forget that we're all students still and always will be. It's okay to give yourself a break now and again for this very reason.
Nice post.

Michele said...

Steve: Thanks for checking in. I have been having some computer problems plus I think something is going on with my blog feed.

Urban Samurai: Thanks! You touched on a very important point...we are all students. As a class instructor, I believe admitting "I don't know" is a valuable lesson for the students. It is not about knowing everything (I agree it is impossible), it is about the training, the practice and the search for information.

Thanks again for your comments!