Japan is well-known for the skill of copying. In the West, copying has a bad flavor, but what about creative copying.
“The original doesn’t exist!”
When a performance is done, the kata or randori doesn’t exist anymore. Even if it is on videotape, the original doesn”t exist…….the videotape is a copy.
Next time we try to perform again the same kata or randori, it will be a copy …… or a new original if we don’t try to copy. But once the kata or randori is finished, the original doesn’t exist anymore.
When a student performs a kata or randori based upon your previous performance, it is a copy. Sometimes it is a copy of a copy if the student uses a videotape.
Copying is a skill and as learning all skills it takes time and perseverance.
Can we learn from a videotape? The answer is “yes”. But you have to understand the limitations of a videotape.
- A videotape offers a fixed form, it is only 1 performance. A teacher has no “fixed form” or “standard form”. The dynamics of adaptation to the changing situations can only be seen when we have several videotapes performed during different demonstrations or other performances.
- It is difficult to understand which gesture is important or not important. Sometimes people are using a kind of mannerism or non-essential gesture which is done over-exaggerated. The reason for this a non-understanding what happens.
- A videotape contains mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes, also the teacher.
Creative copying is based upon basic patterns learned through basic training. Learning basic patterns is not the act of memorizing the visual recognition, but by repeating the patterns until the body has learned them, so that the practitioner or performer can use them without thinking. Using your creativity is the same for kata and randori, although this is only possible when your level is sufficient to do basic patterns without conscious thoughts.
The essence of kata and randori
Randori and kata has to be performed with the essence and not with the mind. But the attention to detail and accuracy cannot be omitted.
When using creative copying, there is a danger to perform a parody or travesty of the reworked material, with or without the intention to use an ironic process.
Putting the essence of kata and randori in words is an impossible task, because adaptation to the many situations is only possible by practising a multitude of variations with a skillfull practitioner or teacher. This is another explanation of ” it has to be felt”. The task of the teacher is to transmit the “essence” of kata and randori, not to show the spectators how good he is.
The 1st lesson
When someone start with a martial art having roots in a traditional school, the way of teaching can be frustating.
There is no verbal explanation, no movement instruction. The expectation is to follow or copy the teacher.
“Stepping into the footsteps of the teacher.”
Learning an art or a skill is done by body to body transmission, not through the mind.