In many of our densho the term for the opponent often as “Teki” (enemy; 敵) and the student is therefore called “ware” (we, us, I; 我). Other terms used are “uke” (recipient; 受) and “Aite” (opponent; 相手). In addition there are terms uchidachi (hitting with a sword; 打太刀) and uketachi (receiving sword; 受太刀) when practicing with weapons. These terms are very common way of describing an “amicable” opponents.
The differences in the meaning of Teki and the other terms are quite significant. Teki used to give the impression of a dehumanized and ruthless training partner. Compared to Uke and Aite, Teki gives a much harder sound. In ancient classical martial arts traditions (Koryu; 古流), it is usually the instructor or an older student who act as “Teki”. Upon exercise of the kata so dictates Teki distance, timing and rhythm (Maai, hyoshi and Choshi; spacing, timing, and rhythm; 間合 拍子 調子) depending on the Ware skill level.
About ware, a beginner teki will attack relatively slowly (compared to real combat) creating a time-space where ware can act without harming themselves or their teki. In other words, for a beginner Teki some fundamental goals for learning motor skills are required, such as taisabaki (body displacement; 体捌) and nagare (fluidity in movement; 流).
With a more experienced ware, Teki can increase the difficulty level by attacking more intensely, challenging Ware’s abilities, intuition and tactical understanding of the exercise.
On the most difficult level performed is kata-geiko (Form practice; 型稽古) with a sense of purpose, with a Teki that is more alive and aware, rather than robotic partners for ware to practice on. Teki exudes “Sakki” (the intent to kill; 殺気) and therefore this workout is designed for those who train four or more days a week in our dojo. A Teki that is robotic at this level only provides a disservice to ware. If ware relaxes in his zanshin, Teki suprise attacks in order to keep Ware’s mind alert and the movements regular.
Especially at torite-kata (grappling forms; 捕手型) Teki must dictate Maai, hyoshi and Choshi for ware. Ware must learn the complicated movement patterns of a kata, such as atemi (striking; 当身), gyaku dori (articulations; 逆捕), shime waza (choking skills; 締技) and nage kata (throwing forms; 投型). As Teki is the more experienced s/he is fully aware of the movements to be performed in order to achieve perfection.
The ware learns to perform the technique within the standards of his level with the help and guidance of Teki. Ware learns the techniques by somatically listening to Teki’s body language.
When ware ripens in skill and ability, Teki increases the intensity of his attack again. If there is a weakness in ware’s technique, Teki will counteract in order to demonstrate where our weakness is, whether the balance changes, he positioned into a roll, control of the body in a strangulation or the application of a joint lock.
If ware’s efforts in response is tedious or careless, Teki will thwart it. If the joint lock or restriction used is weak or not properly addressed, Teki will escape from it. If ware’s taisabaki is slow, he will get a slap on the nose or a little bruise on the side with a tanto (dagger; 短刀). In essence, ware’s skills and abilities are to be cured and tested until there are no structural weaknesses in basic technique and application.
When all the kata is done in this way ware will learn to accurately and efficiently perform all the techniques he has learned through Teki.
Aite 相手 — “opponent”
Choshi 調子 — the rhythm of the kata
Hyoshi 拍子 — the timing of the kata
Kata-geiko 形稽古 — couple training of kata
Maai 間 合 い — the distance between the practitioners
Shidachi 仕太刀 — defender in a sword kata
Teki 敵 — enemy
Uchidachi 打太刀 — the attacker in a sword kata
Uke 受け — the recipient, the attacker in a kata
Ware 我 — I, the defender