Kata is kinda like watching subtitled anime…

So, let’s get it out of the way for the nth time – I’m a bit nerdy, right? Anyway, part of my nerdy habits is that I like watching anime, but I’m picky in that I only like watching it in Japanese with subtitles (mind, I extend that to all foreign film/music – I’d rather watch/listen to it in its original language with subtitles than something dubbed into my native tongue). So, Jyastin-kun and I were heading to karate last week and we were chatting about stuff, and I came up with this awesome analogy, that kata is like watching subtitled anime – if you take it all at first glance and verbatim, you only get one aspect of the whole story, but as soon as you begin to understand it and read more into it, you get a greater understanding of it.

The part of the conversation this came from was how we were talking about how knowing a smattering of written and spoken Japanese reveals all the inadequacies of a simple, literal (or localised) translation from one language to another gives. In the English language compared to Japanese, the system of honorifics does not exist to such an extent, and the gravity of different accents, levels of formalities and other specific eccentricities unique to the Japanese language makes it difficult to bring all this across in a series of subtitles. However, as soon as you start to learn some of the language and cultural norms, your viewing of the material changes – you understand the various levels of honorifics and how they establish hierarchy within the context of the story. Awkwardly-translated phrases (not awkward through any fault of the translator, but awkward through the act of transliteration) somehow make much more sense when you understand the language behind it, and in-jokes and cultural norms suddenly open your eyes to a much deeper experience of the story at hand. Then, with all this in hand, when you watch something you can take the subtitles as your guide, but you’re free to interpret the deeper or more subtle meanings behind the language or content your own way, and in turn, gain a deeper understanding into what’s happening on-screen.

Similarly, when you start learning a kata, you start by following the movements verbatim. As your knowledge of the kata and what the movements signify increase, you gain a deeper understanding of the routine actions represent. Once you have developed your base understanding and precepts behind the actions, you begin to make the kata your own, and instead of it simply be a series of pre-assigned movements, it becomes an involved exploration and an expression wholly personal to you, the individual.

I’m hoping the above is reasonably coherent… and in looking over this post, it’s not just subtitled anime that this can be applied to – movies based on books are another example (i.e. you’ve read the book, then seen the movie), exploring other literary works with an understanding of the context of its creation or expression by the author (whether it be music, film or literature), and so on. I just chose subtitled anime because it came up in discussion and proved both obscure and apt in the grand scheme of things πŸ˜€


Archive: New TMNT – Best.Movie.Ever

Source: Gisoku no Jutsu
Original post date: 30 April, 2007

Well, the title says it all, really. I got a very welcome call from Tank’s girlfriend Meru (pseudonyms are fun!) mid-afternoon yesterday asking if Wifey and I were interesting in joining them to see the best movie ever. Well, she didn’t use those words exactly, but I’m pretty sure that’s what she meant. Anywho, I said that sounded awesome, as I figured I’d be done with my latest post-grad paper by the evening (and even if I wasn’t, I’d be braindead by that point), so agreed, and did the happy dance.

Now, for those living under a big rock of late, the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie recently came out. The live actors and silly suits have all been replaced with some absolutely jaw-dropping CG animation, and Imagi thankfully went the way of making all the characters, even the humans, cartoony and not faux-real people, which is what George Lucas would probably do, as he ruins things. Now, the word around the place is that the movie is set following the original movie that came out in ’89 and, coincidently, was relatively close to the original graphic novels Eastman and Laird did in the early 80s. The second movie, which we will all remember fondly for featuring Vanilla Ice and the terrible (and therefore awesome) ‘Ninja Rap’, came out a few years later.  It was also a bit shit, partly because the soccer-mom patrol sanitised it something nasty – the turtles don’t fight with their weapons for the most part, instead resorting to more Power Ranger-esque silliness, complete with sound effects and what-not, to tone down the violence (incidently, the film stock, lighting and post production of the first film feel a little reminiscent of the Power Ranger/Monster-sentai clique; the second [and third] films simply reek of this even more). There was also a new April, which was funny once you stopped bein confused. Then the third movie came out, and we all pretend that never happened, as it was really bad; on the up-side, Corey Feldman returned to do Donatello’s voice, which is awesome. It was set in ancient Japan (which looked like a typical North American forrest with some cleared trees) and was riddled with cliches and no plot and shonky acting… well, shonkier acting than in previous movies. Which says a lot.

Anywho, so the new TMNT takes place after Shredder gets a kick up the bum and stuff (although, the final scene in the movie suggests this may not be the case… or it’s a little tribute to the films that ran before it). The turtles aren’t living in an abandoned subway train thingo, April has returned to her scientist-self (note to everyone – April’s not a reporter, methinks the late-80s TV series’ producers simply wanted an excuse for some G-rated cleavage) and everything is win and awesome. Pros include the utterly superb quality of the animation (and fight choreography), Leonardo isn’t a pain in the arse like he normally is, Raph is awesome and angry, Don & Mikey are funny (Donnie could have used with some Feldman love, though) and Splinter doesn’t make a funny, which is good ’cause it got tired. Oh, and he ninjas other foot clan ninjas. And the foot ninja girl has cool-looking shiny hair. And Kevin Smith does a guest voice. Since it’s the best movie ever, there are no cons or problems with it. I’ve heard some say it was a little sanitised, and I guess that’s fair enough – it had to scrape by with a PG rating to maximise the access to its core market, and I thought it managed to get away pretty well with it (kinda like The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe did – lotsa biff, but no blood and some clever cuts took care of anything Disney Corp. would frown on), and the target demographic are kids (and incidently, those who watched it as kids ^_^), so it’s not going to get bloody and stuff.

However, this still doesn’t detract frorm its incredible awesomeness. It oozes it, awesomeness comes off it in waves of incredible uberness-enhanced goodness. I’m waffling on, but I have to get across – loved it, thought it was awesome, can’t wait for it to come out on DVD. I’m such a big kid πŸ˜› Maybe there’ll be a sequel. That would bbe uber. Unless it sucked like the other live action TMNT movies which were wrong.

In non-best-movie-ever news, my ankle is feeling a lot better and my stump is healing up quite nicely. I’m still behaving myself and I’m not going to jump back into training this week; however, I can probably start doing some cycling and continue my stretching a bit more regularly now. You’ll also notice that the appearance of the main page is randomly changing as well – I’m in the process of trying a different layout to give the page a redesign. So bear with me for the moment while I work it out πŸ™‚ I’ll have something solid up soonish, and hopefully it’ll look nice and stuff. Once I’ve finalised the main page’s formatting, I’ll update the blog’s visual style to mirror that.


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