Sunday, March 6, 2016

Skill Not Included

This is something that's been bouncing around my head for a little bit. Skill is not included when it comes to kata movements or even analysis of those movements. I think skill is a foreign concept to many people. We can watch a professional athlete, a musician or an artist and enjoy their skill and on a certain surface level we know what a skill is, but we don't necessarily understand it. Most of us are much more familiar with just following instructions on some type of electronic gadget, or putting together some sort of boxed furniture from the store. Insert dowel A into recess G, or after booting up, click on the setup icon and choose tint from the drop-down menu. I believe we confuse the two sometimes. We confuse skill with instructions.

Kata has more of a parallel with hand tools than it does with electronic gadgets. There is some degree of skill required with electronics, but hand tools don't even come with instructions and require a larger degree of skill, nuance and experience to be used effectively. They're harder. It's why people don't use them. Anyone who's ever used a chisel knows there's a big difference between knowing how to use one and actually using one. They're two different things. Angle, pressure, grain and tactile feeling play a huge role in the finished product. This is information that can't be passed through instruction personal or otherwise. Kata is the same way. It's the text book and the tool, but this doesn't imply skill. There is nuance to it gained through experience. Not just partner practice, but solo practice as well.

Skill is derived from understanding how the tool works at it's most fundamental levels. If we understand the tool, than we can use it to its full potential. In regards to karate, understanding the tool really means understanding ourselves. This requires more diligent study turned inwards than looking for answers without.