One of my seniors who is very talented and dangerous described Koto Ryu as being hit by fire, Gyoko Ryu as being surrounded by smoke and mist confused then stumbling into the fire and Togakure Ryu as having no idea there is a fire, everything is going your way then realizing you were in a fire and no idea how you got there.
To me it is an enlightening way of looking at the Ryu ha, it describes the feeling of the particular school as it is felt by the one on the receiving end of the kata or the confrontation. Frequently when learning a kata or a drill we are trying to figure out how the person doing it is moving, what their steps are, where their arms are, what strikes they are using… We fixate our attention on what they are doing not on what is happening to the uke or between the two people.
The kata or drill is not a dance of one but two and the partner is the focal point of this dance. What is their intent? What is their agenda? When does the uke’s intent and agenda change in this dance between the two? What happened to make it change? When did it happen to make their intent and agenda change?
These are the questions we want to ask and the observations we want to perceive as we learn the kata or drills. If we just concentrate on what the person teaching the drill or kata is doing we are only seeing half of the picture. We need to see all of the picture and the second half of what is happening to the uke is the most important. That is the part we are trying to recreate, what happens to the uke.
There’s a saying in this art of having the eyes to see, it means being able to see beyond what the teacher is doing to what is happening between the two, uke and teacher. The intent, the energy, the goal of the violent interaction that is being recreated for us to learn from. The closer we get to understanding what is happening to the uke the closer we are to understanding the lesson from our teacher.
We look forward to learning with you
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