Friday, October 5, 2007

Kokutai: Karate

I spent my first day off from work down in Kisakata, watching the karate events. Matches were held in four different rings simultaneously, and went on all day. First was men's kata (one person performing a predetermined array of moves on their own), followed by girls, boys, and women's sparring, as well as the first round of men's sparring at the very end.

Here's a wide shot of the whole place.

Halfway through the day, they took a break from the matches and presented the "Sugichi Dance," performed by a whole bunch of little kids and a guy in a Sugichi costume. Very cute. Here's a video:

Go team Akita! You're the best... around...

This is a video of one of the kata entries. Performing a kata is not unlike performing a piece of music. In both cases, you have to do a specific sequence of actions in order. This sequence can be written down, but ultimately must be memorized, or at least internalized through muscle memory (but it's not like karate practitioners can read a list of moves while they do them). The choice and order of the notes or moves isn't random (aleatoric music aside), but has a relative sense of progression. Also, there is a certain level of skill and exactness required to articulate notes and phrases just right, or to have a good stance and body movements. The whole performance has inherent dynamic variation, which it is the performer's job to emphasize and communicate in their performance. Still, there is plenty of room for creative interpretation- how fast/slow to perform certain moves, when to pause, when to kiai (shout), etc. Ah, I miss karate.

And finally, here's a clip of some sparring, or "kumite" (no, not the secret freestyle martial arts tournament in 'Bloodsport'). Sparring is pretty much a game of tag. Points are scored by striking the front torso above the belt, or the face. It's not really fighting, and it's not about hitting hard. Still, a few kids managed to get bloody noses, despite those clear face guards.


Anonymous said...

The sparring was awesome. looks like the poor kid on the right was always stuck in a corner


Sophie's mom said...

I loved the videos especially the kata performer... a splendid sense of balance and movement!
Keep going with this artsy blog!

Sean said...

a·le·a·to·ry [ey-lee-uh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee, al-ee-] . . .
3. Music. employing the element of chance in the choice of tones, rests, durations, rhythms, dynamics, etc.

You are going to have to use smaller words. It seems my brutish mind is unable to comprehend any vocabulary that I haven't used since the SAT exam.

jeffisdancing said...

Yeah, that one was pretty much just for the music majors out there.

Speaking of fancy words, I was checking over a student's journal and she had used the word "epicurean" which I couldn't remember ever hearing in my life. Those electronic dictionaries have some fancy words.

Sean said...

I think I've seen a Greek restaurant called the Epicurean. I remember writing English papers and using the dictionary/thesaurus to find some nice fancy words. Some how the teacher could always tell when I did.