Aikido training consists of two basic steps -- kata and
randori. (In some aikido schools, they only practice kata.) Where it
is practical to do so, shiai may be added to hone the skills acquired in
[I] Kata. Aikido training begins with repeated
practice of kata until the waza are sufficiently internalized (or
mastered). [Kata is fundamental movements in aikido, typically
involving two partners, in which tori applies specific waza (often
translated rather incompletely as 'technique') on uke repeatedly.] In
kata practice, the tori and uke follow movements that have been agreed
upon in advance.
Two basic methods are known in the practice of kata: (A)
kata is practiced and performed in a flowing fashion as precisely as
possible, usually following the demonstrations of a master instructor; (B) kata is practiced as a prototype of some basic waza. [In Japan, two different characters are often used to differentiate (A) and (B). In the traditional martial arts of the bygone centuries, the latter concept was preferred.]
(A) The first concept is applied in kata practice in most aikido schools.
(B) The second concept was emphasized by
Professor Tomiki as an important part of the training (without
neglecting the first concept). The student practices the kata on both
sides, not just on the right or the left side. After the student has
sufficiently mastered the basic kata, the manner of attack (by
uke) can undergo variations; this is to ensure the mastery of the kata
for different circumstances. Students of the Tomiki School are urged to
practice kata in this manner, without implying any prejudice against
the training method in (A).
[II] Randori. After internalizing waza through kata, one learns
to apply them in situations where movements (manners of attack and hence
manners of defense) are random, with some constraints to avoid unnecessary
injuries. This method of training is known as randori. In randori, participants
usually do not know in advance who will attack and who will defend,
approximating situations in real life. Thus, in randori, tori and uke
are not distinguished.
[III] Shiai. An aspect of aikido training can take the form
of shiai or a competitive sport. However, a sport competition requires
above all safety for the contestants and that imposes some limitations
in tournament (shiai) aikido. Certain aspects of aikido training (as
a martial art) are not suitable for competition.
Realistically conducted randori can also accomplish
similar objectives as in shiai. Shiai is in effect a form of randori
under a set of rules that make it a competitive sport.
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