The practice of Kata Judo , the formal demonstration of throws, demonstration of holds and demonstration of gentleness is an essential part of Judo training. Too much emphasis placed on winning competitions can mean that too little time is spent acquiring the self discipline which is at the heart of Judo. The execution of Kata requires a far greater degree of perfection than Randori, or free practice,and can therefore improve standards and can also be enjoyed long after a person’s competitive days are over. Trevor Leggett’s classic books on Kata were combined in a single comprehensive volume at the request of the British Judo Association and which for many years was the approved text on Kata. The third part of this book covers the practice of Ju-no-kata, the demonstration of gentleness, which was devised by Dr Jigoro Kano, the founder of modern Judo,and the photos in this part of the book are of Dr Kano himself performing Ju-no-kata.
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JU-NO-KATA (formal demonstration of Ju or gentleness) was a special exercise for two people devised by Dr. Jigoro Kano, the founder of modern Judo. It requires no special clothing or equipment, and can be practised anywhere. As one of the leading figures in Japanese education early this century, Dr. Kano introduced Junokata into the physical education of Japanese youth, and it was and is widely practised in schools, especially by girls, to whom he believed it was specially suited. A knowledge of Junokata is now part of the syllabus for the Ladies’ Section of the British Judo Association, which is thus continuing the tradition of Japan where some of the best exponents are women. The word Ju, literally softness, has a technical meaning in Judo. The classical example is a willow which gives before the fury of the tempest, so that at the end its flexible branches remain unbroken, whereas the rigid oak is uprooted. Sometimes the principle is misunderstood as complete non-resistance. But it should be noted that the willow does use some strength, in that it keeps its root firm; it is only that it does not directly resist the force of the wind. Similarly, in Judo, force is not directly resisted: but there is indirect resistance. The indirect resistance is based on balance, skill and strategy. Junokata combines several aims. It is a physical culture which develops a flexible all-round physique; it is a physical education in using the whole body with firmness and precision, and in the principles of disturbing and preserving balance; its psychological interest is profound because the movements are methods of nullifying force applied to the body; it develops inner calm because students have to learn mental poise while facing force or while being held.
Physical Culture. The stretching movements are carried to the limit; in particular Junokata makes the spine extremely flexible and also loosens the shoulders. In several of the movements the partner has to be lifted and held clear of the ground; when this is done skilfully the strong muscles of trunk and legs are exercised.
Physical education. The student learns to use the right amount of force in the right direction, and to use the body as a unit. Untrained people have their body-consciousness, motor and sensory, mainly in face and hands, the trunk being relatively undiscriminated. (Studies of cortical representation by Penfield and others show this clearly.) Junokata training gives a much better awareness and control of the body as a whole. Balance in most people is extremely poor: they try to align themselves in accordance with supposed vertical and horizontal lines in the objects around them. Experiments have been done in Japan in which a man tries to stand upright while a vertically striped ‘tent’ hangs round him; when the tent is revolved the untrained man invariably loses balance because the visual cues are disturbed, whereas the Judo men with their inner sense of balance can stand steadily even on one leg. Psychological interest. Force applied against the body, and methods of evading it, excite the instinct of self-preservation, the most primitive of all. The interest aroused by Judo touches deeper levels than most sports, especially highly artificial games with complicated rules.
Inner calm. Most people, especially women, become confused if confronted with force or suddenly caught. In Junokata the applications of force are stylized representations of attacks with fist or stick, and so on, and the movements are generally practised slowly. Nevertheless, the escapes can be brought up to a speed at which they would be completely effective. From this point of view Junokata gives confidence and poise needed by nervous people.
Practice. For a long time Junokata is practised slowly, in order to master the delicate manipulations of balance and force. Accuracy is aimed at from the beginning, and not too much energy is used. Gradually speed is increased and more force put in. If it be objected that such methods of training are not those commonly adopted in most sports today, it can be replied that Junokata requires a very high degree of precision. If we consider activities where precision is required, like music or typewriting, or shorthand for that matter, we shall always find that accuracy is insisted on first of all, and then speed gradually increased. No musician would attempt practising fast passages on the principle that many mistakes are allowable at first and they can be ironed out later on. Experience shows that if speed is attempted too soon, precision is never in fact achieved. Slow movement is not contrary to the spirit of Junokata. If the opponent’s balance is correctly controlled, the movements will be effective even though performed quite slowly. However, the Kata must not become ‘dead’. The Kata is called dead when the movements are made mechanically and the performers forget the point of what they are doing. Traditional teachers had special ways of preventing it – during a slow movement the teacher would suddenly jump in and make a throw, taking the pupil aback. By these means the pupil was kept awake. The final aim is a calm alertness, without preconceived ideas or tensions but fully responsive to the whole situation. To have done Randori or free practice is a great help to Kata, and Dr. Kano introduced Kata in most cases after some proficiency had been reached at Randori. However, the Junokata is specially designed so that it can also be practised with advantage by those who for any reason cannot undertake Randori.