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The Importance of Quality Attacks

In Jujutsu, how do you gauge the 'level' of any action?  What makes a technique that of a 7th Dan rather than a 7th Kyu?  Embedded in the kata of Jukendo (of which I know next to nothing) is an important component of the answer - that the skill with which you are operating is in many ways a function of the quality of your opponent's actions.

In the details of the Jukendo kata, we see the following:

In the first kata, an opening appears and you skewer your opponent.  Ideally, of course, timing, distance, footwork, technique, targetting, posture etc are all entirely correct.  This is the pattern of the first four kata.

In the fifth kata, the opponent essentially performs the same action as the demonstrator in the first kata, in the same manner, that is to say, timing, distance, footwork, technique, targetting, posture etc is all entirely correct.  The demonstrator then defends the original technique.  The opponent does not over-commit, does not do something the demonstrator himself would never do - he performs a perfectly legitimate attack competently - which is then defended.

The ethos here is very important.  There is not a lot of sense of continuously dealing with unrealistic or incompetent opponents.  Any attack used in a syllabus should be just as useful technically as any counter.

If the quality of your opponent is never more than that of a beginner, then I put it to you that you cannot know you have progressed passed being an intermediate practitioner - no matter what your grade.

You can't show 3rd Dan proficiency against a 5th Kyu attack.  If I proposed that the test for every Dan grade in Kendo was to best a first-year beginner it would seem absurd - however, if you employ a syllabus where the quality of the attack and/or resistance never increases, instead you just do slightly different things, you would be doing just that.

I'm going to use the following Aikido demonstrations to attempt to articulate why, keeping the above in mind, Jujutsu & combative people are usually non-plussed by many demonstrations - it is because the level of the attack in these demonstrations never goes up.

The opponent never seems to have anything in mind except the first stage of the attack followed by the fall.  Even when armed with a sword the attacker seems hopeless and amateurish - unable to attack from the correct distance, mindless and overcommitted.

No matter what the actual skill of the demonstrator - these demonstrations prove nothing more than an intermediate efficacy.  It's why many people just say "So what?", whilst others believe they are witnessing complete mastery.

The skill with which you are operating is in many ways a function of the quality of your opponent's actions.  If you want to be better, perhaps start with asking what your opponent could do better and then solving that problem.

The original Jukendo demonstration from which the stills above were taken is here:

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