Mastering Kata: shu, ha and ri

Mastering Kata: shu, ha and ri

Postby Rick Wilson » Wed Aug 31, 2005 4:51 am

Mastering Kata: shu, ha and ri

The OVERLOOK MARTIAL ARTS READER Vol 2 edited by John Donohue.

Page 142

From “Armed Martial Arts of Japan” by G. Cameron Hurst

(Breakdown of the paragraph added by me to make reading easier.)

“Kata mastery progresses through three stages.

We find in many texts on geido reference to shu, ha, and ri, the developmental steps to mastery.

Shu means ‘to preserve’ and refers to the initial phase of study in martial and other arts. The novice simply ‘preserves’ the tradition by constant repetition of kata, polishing both outward form and internal mental awareness until the techniques become automatically replicable.

But simple repetition could conceivably lead to (and in Tokugawa martial arts certainly did lead to) the ossification of the art, so the student must ‘break down’ or ‘destroy’ (ha) the kata that he mastered,

in order to move to the final stage of development, where he was ‘liberated’ (ri) from the kata, and true creative individuality could express itself.

The theory behind the mastery of secrets via kata memorized involved, then, a progression from total subservience to tradition to a level of individual creativity.”

Rick Wilson

Postby Rick Wilson » Sat Sep 03, 2005 7:02 am

My personally opinion is that the majority of the folk either get stuck at shu or just cannot get passed it.

The article goes on to say pretty much the same thing.

That is not necessarily a bad thing as long as they enjoy their training and work hard. It is all good.

But for those who truly desire to seek that in-depth understanding then you have to move past shu.
Rick Wilson

Postby Stryke » Sat Sep 03, 2005 9:33 am

I think people get caught up trying to master a kata

kata cannot be mastered , thats the beauty of it , it`s to be explored not perfected .

but just MHO , and hey I cant say Im at any stage above .

Postby Asteer » Sat Sep 03, 2005 11:21 pm

It is interesting to note the similarity with a more "modern" theory of skill acquisition in sport. The National Coaching Certification Program (in Canada) uses the following model to describe the various "steps" in learning a new skill...

Perception (Shu)
Adaptation (Shu)
Refinement (Shu)
Variation (Ha)
Improvisation (Ha)
Composition (Ri)

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Postby AAAhmed46 » Mon Sep 26, 2005 3:18 am

How long should it take to go through the first stage?
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Postby maxwell ainley » Tue Sep 27, 2005 7:22 pm

Hi ,
To move through the shu stage ,depends upon input ,I looked at this 35 years ago ,I stopped training two three times per week and opted for a seven day program .

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Postby Rick Wilson » Sun Oct 16, 2005 3:10 am

“How long should it take to go through the first stage?”

Sorry I missed this Adam. :oops:

Advancement is an individual thing.

There are some who have trained for 20 - 25 years and have yet to move to stage two.

That is okay too because the martial arts journey is a personal one.

These long time “shu” stagers are usually stuck in follow mode and have not yet been able to move on to exploring and discovering on their own.

If all you do is follow without exploring on your own then you will never leave the shu stage.

Again, every one training in the martial arts has the right to practice as they see fit.

Those who only want to follow have the right to do so.

But they are not seeking mastery but mimicry. Now sometimes they are seeking to mimic some really good karateka so that ain’t half bad.

This is very clearly written in the above quote:

”The theory behind the mastery of secrets via kata memorized involved, then, a progression from total subservience to tradition to a level of individual creativity.”

If you never move out of subservience you will never master Karate.

The time is personal and cannot be guessed at and not everyone is capable of moving to stage two and fewer I would think to stage three.
Rick Wilson

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