Choosing a Martial Art for Yourself or Your Children
August 6, 2018
Distance and Timing
August 20, 2018

Shu – Ha – Ri

In older texts the teachers write of Shu – Ha – Ri. which means ’embracing the kata.’ Further explained the idea is that the student first is concerned with learning the moves of a kata; Shu.
At the stage of Shu the student looks at the individual moves, what they mean and how they work and flow. This part is where the practitioner must actually think step by step about what comes next, where to turn and how to execute a particular step. You see, one step may call for slow concentrated movement, another for a smoother more relaxed one. How does the breathing coordinate. Where is the body weight, the balance, and so much more?
This stage can take years to perfect, especially in complex pattenrs, however; even seemingly simple patterns can have an infinite depth of meaning and subtle, necessary, variations. Many martial artists never get past this and, yet, can find very meaningful results.
The next level is Ha. At this level the practitioner ‘becomes one with the kata.’ They have practiced it so thoroughly that they don’t even have to think about the move and they flow through with seeming effortlessness, and still evidence great power. This is a level that is the end goal for many. To watch someone perform at this level can be very beautiful and impressive.
The final level is Ri. At Ri, the practitioner goes beyond the kata. The kata has become so much a part of the person that they can actually see the endless potential meanings of the kata. At this point the kata teaches the person insights that they can get no where else.
I ask all of my students to read a book on how to learn. The book is: The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. In this book the author looks into how and why there have been great pockets of art, sport and education in various locations in the world, at different times. What caused the Renaissance, the Baroque period, the Suzuki method and other such hotspots of creativity. He describes how when we learn something, at first it is just a pattern in the brain. We can practice the pattern slowly, even backwards and the brain will still learn the pattern, As we repeat the pattern over and over again the brain reinforces it by wrapping the pattern in a substance called myelin, allowing even more rapid and efficient transmission of the pattern. Eventually the pattern moves into the subconscious mind and can be accessed there. When we need to use our conscious mind we can only handle a few operations at once, however; the subconscious can handle millions in nanoseconds! Shu – Ha – Ri!
If you would like to pursue this, come on out to River of Life dojo and train with us!

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