Can we change the kata of Kenji Tomiki?

Changing posture or not?

We cannot change Kenji Tomiki’s kata. Although we change frequently the kata according our understanding.

In basic 17 kata, Tori and Uke are always starting from a “ai gamae” posture. Right handed or left handed. In basic 15 kata, this is different. Most of the waza start from ai gamae. Gyaku gamae ate (number2) and tenkai kote gaeshi gyaku gamae (number 15) start from a gyaku gamae posture. The picture shows shomen ate form right posture and 2 exceptions mentioned earlier.

Basic posture

The origin of basic aikido posture can be found in Japanese sword methods. Right hand and right foot are forward.

Most of the basic kata in sword methods are starting from this posture.

In our basic 17 kata, the right hand posture is used as the basic posture for “all” the waza. And of course we can do a left hand posture for both.

Changing basic 15 posture

Basic kata can be explained from

  • a Tori point of view
  • an Uke point of view

In basic 15 kata there is a change in Tori’s posture. Uke is always the same posture. Tori is adapting the posture to suit better the performance of waza.

Gyaku gamae ate waza. In basic 17 kata, this problem is solved by changing the “tsukuri” action. The posture change becomes a part of the tsukuri. There is of course another point to mention. In basic 15 kata, shomen ate and ai gamae ate, atemi is performed by the right hand, while basic 17 kata gyaku gamae ate is performed with the left hand.

If Tori keeps a right hand basic posture during Basic 15 kata, gyaku gamae ate can be performed by using Basic 17 tsukuri . If we like to keep the original waza, and Tori keeps the right hand posture, Uke has to change the posture for attacking into a left hand posture. Gyaku gamae will be performed with Tori’s right hand.

Tenkai kote gaeshi waza In basic 17, there is only 1 tenkai kote gaeshi performed with 2 hands. We can consider this as a kind of merging the 2 basic tenkai kote gaeshi basic15 methods.

Basic 17 tenkai kote gaeshi tsukuri

If we like to keep the original basic 15 waza, and Tori keeps the right hand posture, Uke has to change the posture for attacking into a left hand posture.

Changing basic kata?

The question is not easy to answer. 
According to Yamada sensei  (early 60-ties) we can do basic 15 in kata style. This includes we can do basic 15 as personal variations. 
Did he consider basic 15 as a kata? Again this is difficult to answer because there are many version of basic 15. 
We can assume basic 15 is not a kata or a fixed form. It is a collection of basic techniques.
In the JAA syllabus (1999) we find "randori no kata".
We can assume, a collection of basic techniques is transformed into a standard basic kata. Of course there is the personal flavour and understanding of every JAA chief instructor.

Conclusion If we consider basic techniques (basic 15, 17, 19 or more) as a collection of techniques, we can change elements for practise purposes. If we consider these sequences of techniques as a kata, we can change elements but in this case we have to rename it. This often happens when a chief instructor has a different interpretation of the content. The question arises if this modification will be accepted by the governing body. And what about enbu competition?

About shobukaidojo

A passion for Martial Arts since 1964

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