The last day of the Poland seminar happened to be the day Poland’s largest charity, Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy, has its annual fundraising event. The dojo we were training at had an open day and asked us to do a demonstration of Jukendo.
When demonstrating kata to people that don’t know the art I like to try and explain the unique aspects of the kata. Fortunately I don’t speak Polish and didn’t have to. The aspects I like to point out for jukendo kata are:
- The timing and awareness of Okori. Okori (起こり) in this case literally translates as “The beginning” or “Genesis” but the kanji can also mean “to wake up”. I find it mildly amusing that it “wakes up your opponent” (but I love Dad jokes). The first kata especially shows this when uchikata starts to move and shikata is already prepared and and strikes first instead. This happens a lot in shiai. I find it an interesting element of jukendo kata that it is so close to what happens in shiai compared to, say, kendo or naginata.
- The emphasis on zanshin. We probably spend more time practising the zanshin when doing kata than any other element. Zanshin is hard to explain and done differently by many people. Radiating the feeling of being completely prepared to strike again and being in complete control of your opponent is so obvious when you see it but so hard to emulate. During shiai a strike without zanshin rarely scores and often a mediocre strike with excellent zanshin is scored.
- The mirror aspect of the kata. This is most obvious in the Mokuju/Mokuju and Tanken/Mokuju kata but is present in the Mokuju/Sword and Tanken/Tanken kata sets as well. Mokuju/Mokuju Kata #5 for example is effectively Kata #1 where the person making the first strike has done it wrong, the same applies for 6/2, 7/3 and 8/4. Learning the weakness in the technique and how to counter it is not something I have seen in other kata sets anywhere near as explicitly.
- We let the sword win (sometimes)! I do lots of “other weapon” versus sword kata in Tendo Ryu and we never let the normal sword win. Even in the Kendo kata as soon as someone grabs a weapon other than the normal length sword they immediately get a Power Up and win. It’s good to be nice to the poor kendoka out there (occasionally)!