Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Taking notes


So much to learn, so much to learn. Fortunately, a lot of it is codified in the form of kata, and along with the frequent repetition of those techniques in day to day class, there are often quite a few resources available in the form of books or videos or web site to help us along or remind us of anything we may have forgotten.

But there's always something extra, some added bits of information that don't seem to be covered anywhere; I pick them up from higher ranks periodically, or sometimes from other schools or even other systems. I would like to incorporate them in classes when appropriate, but the problem is remembering all of them. Kata serves a lot of purposes, and one of them is it serves to aid memorability when passing down information from person to person (before all the books and videos became so easily accessible). But what about all the tid-bits?

Mostly, I've tried to take notes over the years. For whatever reason, the renzoku waza, or "chained" techniques stemming from release movements, which were introduced into our system about a decade or so ago, were never committed to a permanent, transmittable form such as a book or video. So, after every class, whenever I picked up a new piece of the chain, I would immediately go home and write it down. Sometimes, those chains grew quite complex, and the method I used to start recording them may not be the best.

I use a computer all day, so that's what I'm most comfortable with, so I used Adobe InDesign (a program common for graphic designers) to type them up nice and neat. While that helps in the sense that I don't go back months or years later and struggle to decipher my own handwriting, they're still somewhat random and disorganized, and I'd love to spend some time doing just that.

Although, currently Nick Lowry sensei and his many helpful budo elves are in the process of compiling a number of videos which will cover a great many of those pesky details and tidbits in addition to the kata. But it's a massive undertaking, and will likely take years, and I'm sure there will be more added to it in perpetuity.

I also wonder how to incorporate some of those things into the normal routine of class. I've been experimenting with the "secret ninja trick of the day" for the last few minutes of class in aikido and that's been fun. Not only do the newer students get to see something a little different, I get to experiment with the new things I pick up (and pretend like I've know about them for years, of course...) Dojo play-days are another great way of pairing up with someone and experimenting. Heck, it may even be worthwhile to do something like that during a normal class if you have the right mix of people.

I guess it's just my nature, to organize. It comes with the job of being a designer, really: the client gives us a bunch of information, or no information at all, and we have to learn it, digest it, and find the best way to organize and communicate that information to people who aren't experts in that field.

The main downside, however, is I have a hard time translating a written description of a physical movement into an action, going from words to picturing it in my head. Which is the nice thing about videos, obviously, so I'm excited for those.

Until then, it's back to writing notes.

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