From my cursory view of my twitter, facebook and Google+ friends there seems to be an interest of late in the 31 jo kata. I watched videos to learn the kata myself a few months ago but it wasn’t until a recent visit to Aikido of Cotati that it helped start to give me an understanding of the kata. Saito Sensei developed a partner practice that goes along with the 31 jo kata that helps put the solo practice into perspective. We worked the first 12 strikes last Saturday and it helped me tremendously.
So much, that I decided to brush off the 21 jo kata that I practiced before my 3rd Kyu test, and the 13 jo kata that I practice as a student of Bob Noha Sensei at my home dojo at Aikido of Petaluma. what I found was… wow. I’m confused. Was this the 3rd strike in this form, or the 8th strike in this one or does the parry go here, or do I step forward in this one or the other.
So yes, it is confusing. However, I don’t think that this is a bad thing. Overwhelming to the point that I wanted to break my jo in two would be a bad thing, but being confused stimulates me and challenges me. I think that taking on a new challenge helps gain knowledge and proficiency. Seeing the similarity and differences between the 3 katas gains me a deeper appreciation for each, and for Aikido as a whole.
So over the next month I my goal is to not become confused, to start to understand the differences and applications of each kata, and to be able to perform each of them. I am purposely staying away from phrases like “master this”, because true mastery comes after years and years, and even the highest ranking Aikidoka still practice fundamentals and still strive for perfection even with what we consider “simple” techniques.
I know that I posted this with the title “kata overload” but I think what this is more about for me is a series of goals. I’m not really one for resolutions, and as ironic as it seems, I’m not calling out my “new years resolutions” right now, but I am thinking of a series of goals. I’ve not really trained with any goals in mind, before but from a previous blog post I did outline some of the things I want to work on. One of them, becoming more knowledgeable in my weapons work, will be aided by this practice. So, as I step into the second day of 2012, I’m off to swing the jo around.