Learning The Martial Arts: Taiden, Kuden, Shinden

The martial arts are physical lessons.

While there are intellectual and philosophical consideration in the martial arts, the primary transmission of learning is physical. Having a teacher or coach instruct you, correct mistakes, followed by practicing and training outside of class.

But what is the model used for learning the physical aspects of the martial arts?

In the Japanese martial arts there is the idea of the ura and omote, which certainly also exists in other cultural warrior transmissions.

The idea that there is the visible and what can be seen in the dojo, and the invincible which can’t bee seen yet exists.

If you were to watch a class from outside the group, you would only be getting a part of the transmission. As part of a school, or under instruction of a sensei there are other parts you would be made aware of to look out for in each lesson.

The “invisible” that powers the “visible”.

In this martial arts training post we are going to look at three of the invisible filters going on in each class: taiden, kuden, and shinden.

These are just three of the learning filters to be made aware of.

Taiden is physical instruction by watching the body move.

All martial arts classes make use of this learning model- it is the primary method of the arts.

When introducing a training technique (waza) or principal the teacher will demonstrate it before the class. You watch them perform it, maybe they point out a few specific things to look for, followed by the class breaking up into groups to model it.

Taiden is watching and moving the body.

The second layer of taiden is kuden- verbal instruction.

This is when the coach corrects your movement or offers additional training points. It is important to realize that kuden is entirely context in the moment for the person training. It is what they need to take the movement to the next level, or point to keep in mind for the future.

Kuden links all the taiden.

Shinden, heart-to-heart is the next layer.

Shinden is experiencing the technique and the transference of the *essence* of the martial art.

Take nage waza- martial arts throws as an example.

The instructor shows a throw and points out a few kuden examples. You break up with a partner and practice it back and forth. Over time you gain a base proficiency in the mechanics and moving parts of the throw.

When you have those, your teacher will show you or transmit the shinden of the throw by doing it to you.

In that moment when you have it applied, how did it feel? How did it take your balance? What made it effective? What was the style which reflects the school (ryu) as it was done.

These are questions which can only be shown through first hand experience, and having it done to you.

The instructor transmits that and now as a student you have both the ura and omote of the technique and are one step closer to moving with the movement of the martial arts of your school.

See you on the mat!

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