"And memorising is not the most difficult part. Chances are never equal, but while repeating the same gestures a dozen times a week, everyone eventually succeeds. The memory of the form must be engraved simultaneously in the limbs and in the area of rational thought which provides points of reference, chapter headings (“beginning of fourth section… oh yes, here, hands like clouds, watch the position of your foot… twice only in this section… no, the diving comes later…”). Gradually, in the new lighting brought forth by the blending of the two memories, each gesture finds its place in relation with the others, becomes familiar. There are those one happily returns to, those from which one recoils (must I really bend down so deeply in order to turn?), those one “gets right” the first time, those which have given us so much trouble and which, today, seem easy…
"In the global architecture of the kata, articulations appear gradually, like blanks in a written page covered with continuous letters. They add punctuation and syntax, elucidate, clarify. The same thing happens when studying a sonata. Blurred passages grow accurate, masses become clear, leitmotivs become manifest, and each bar, each fragment of the musical text, begins to exhale its own personality like an open perfume bottle. The growing awareness of the hidden structure of a musical piece (or of a kata) emerges along with the delight it brings.
"Repetition. Here is the difficult part. Is there a way out of this dreary flatland? Without repetition, there can be no scenery, no mountain, no perfume, no real fun. Repetition is the royal approach to learning: it stands guard at the entrance to the temple like an army of officials to be saluted one by one. It may seem fastidious, especially in a culture fascinated by novelty and cheap thrills. Repetition used to symbolise slavery, the tedious gesture of the chain gang. It is the ordeal and ultimate test in any process of learning. Nonetheless, as a bit of practice will prove, repetition is an illusion; actually, the gestures of human beings (unlike those of puppets) never repeat themselves. It is impossible to imitate oneself exactly. Repetition escapes monotony through tiny variations in weight, distance, intention, intensity, or, as Robert Pirsig would say, Quality. For the hundredth time I climb this chromatic scale with its impossible fingering. Each time the attack is slightly different, weak spots change places, the intensity of the crescendo varies. My secret hope is that one day, perhaps, these tiny differences between two strokes of the brush will be chosen, mastered, freed from the rules, relevant to the music alone."