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Lose to Win

When practicing kata or techniques very often students rush “to do” the technique without understanding why the kata or technique exists. Kata in our system are reenactments of battles or are they are drills created to pass on principles of survival. They provide answers to situations that teach lessons to us. They are not things that can be done independently of the situation or the attacker.

To understand these answers you have to understand the danger involved. There is a cause and effect relationship between the attack and defense that was used to survive a battle. This relationship holds the principles of our art.

One of the ways to do this is to lose the simulated fight in order to learn how to win the fight. When you practice a kata try letting the attacker win at first. See what the attack looks like and what the results would be if they succeeded. Obviously you need to do this at a safe speed and have a cooperative training partner so no one gets hurt.

As you train with a kata notice what your body’s natural reaction is to the attack. Many times in our art your first instinctive defensive reaction is the beginning of the actual technique, which makes sense if you think about it. Trying to do something that is not natural or instinctive in a defense situation probably won’t work, even though many try to force it to do so in the dojo.

When you move from piece to piece of the kata and run into difficulties don’t be so fast to force your way by them and “win”. Let yourself fail. Explore what is happening and then discover an alternative that you didn’t see before. Learn to lose so you can learn to win.

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