Darts: a game where participants compete with one another by throwing small arrow like devices at a target that is round and has numbers and sections and an inner bull with an outer bull and so on. Darts now refer to the standard game with a specific bristle board design and a set of rules. Rules that are general to the game and rules that govern games like, “501,” “301,” and “Cricket.”

Darts is a traditional pub game that was and is commonly played in the United Kingdom as well as other places in Europe and across the pond here in the America’s.

Wikipedia tells hits history in a terse form, i.e., “The dartboard may have its origins in the cross-section of a tree. An old name for a dartboard is "butt"; the word comes from the French word but, meaning "target". In particular, the Yorkshire and Manchester Log End boards differ from the standard board in that they have no treble, only double and bullseye, the Manchester board being of a smaller diameter, with a playing area of only 25 cm across with double and bull areas measuring just 4 mm. The London Fives board is another variation. This has only 12 equal segments numbered 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10 with the doubles and triples being a quarter of an inch wide.”

There have been a variety of darts created over the years but the most common today is the tungsten dart. There are electronic darts but for this blog and for my efforts in tossing darts I remain a steel dart fan and enthusiast. I am recommending a book for novice darters but only because it appealed to me and my studies and rest assured most of the dart books out there are outstanding. In short, find one if this one does not fit your needs and get it. I can tell you when I started to play over twenty years ago, before I laid down my darts in 96, I tossed darts for several years without knowing some very important and critical mechanics, etc., of the dart game. As I take up once again my steel darts I have found a fountain of information to help make the game both enjoyable and competitive. Enjoy, diddle for the middle and let the darts fly!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Datsu [ダーツ] no Kata [の型]

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Datsu-no-kata is about a model, a form, a rhythm; setting a pattern, a template or a mold toward a standard form of a movement, posture, rhythm and cadence to toss/throw darts both in practice and in a competitive environment of unknown practitioners at unknown skill levels. 

In martial arts the core or cornerstone of karate practice is the kata along with basics, usually a combination of the two, i.e., basic techniques along with techniques (a collection of moves used for fense in this case).

Lets use a competitive stand to create our datsu no kata, i.e., we are in a major tournament and our goal is to achieve the best darts possible. In most competitive endeavors the goals are to win, win, win and to get awarded the purse, purse, purse - money, money, money. That is a great goal and it is often the one most use to drive their efforts. I want to suggest a slightly different approach.

Our, my, goal is to play against myself, my darts and the dartboard through the games of 301, 501 and Cricket. As I stated in another article my goal in those games is to toss/throw a perfect game. I don’t want any distractions, i.e., to achieve datsu mushin or immovable mind; no distractions of my competitor or his game; no distractions from viewers/audience members; no distractions of others or other things as to noise or game levels or scores and so on except mine. I want immovable mind that moves into a datsu-no-kata for each set of three darts. My mind and perceptions narrow down so that all I see in my darts, the ockey line, the board and then the rhythmic cadence of the throw of the dart, the datsu-no-kata in perfection all the way to the dart hitting the intended target in each moment for each situation/game to best my last dart or set of three throws. 

I want to immerse myself in the kata, the darts, the board and the throw. You can imagine it to be like the art of the archer in Asian Martial Arts. The only difference in the process is a focus on hitting the intended target while the Asian art of Archery ignores the bull’s eye, the target, and focuses on the act of releasing the arrow through its kata.

How do we do this datsu-no-kata; 
  • First, we perform a mokuso; clearing the mind to achieve mushin state of mind.
  • Second, we visualize our kata and our throwing of the dart before stepping to the ockey line.
  • Third, we perform the kata as set forth next:
    • Stand behind the other darter.
    • Focus on the darts in your hand.
    • Adjust the shafts for tightness, check the flight. Position the first dart in the throwing hand.
    • Raise the eyes and focus on the back of the darter ahead of you; ignore their throws, ignore their targets, and ignore their scores, etc.
    • Remain in a state of mokuso along with continued visualization of your darts and the kata you will perform when your turn arrives.
    • Walk quietly and with focus up to the ockey line.
    • Assume your dart kamae, your stance.
    • Check your grip on the dart.
    • Bring your eyes up for the first time to focus direct vision on your intended target.
    • Keep your focus on the target while raising your throwing hand up until your peripheral sees the hand, target and arm in position aimed at the target.
    • Breathe, focus on the target, see peripherally the dart, hand, arm, grip position, in a rhythmic movement with fluidity pull back till the dart is at your cheek and still in peripheral view throwing and following through releasing the dart at the release point and let the arm and hand drop from the final follow through point down to your hand with the other two darts while focusing on the dart entering the target.
    • Feel the second dart taking position in your throwing hand, feel the grip assuming its proper and correct position, move your eyes to the new/next target according to the last and goal of all three then repeat the process of the throw as stated above. 
  • Fourth, repeat the kata at the ockey line from the dart-kamae only adjusting to move across the ockey line to achieve efficient, proficient and correct position to aim and hit the target as necessary.
  • Fifth, upon releasing the last or third dart, relax, lean back a moment, check the scoring and then move to the board and remove the darts.
  • Sixth, turn to the right and walk quietly around and out of the way of the other darter who is already on the ockey line to take a position behind him to again set, visualize, and focus on his back in a state of mushin and mokuso.
Remember, this is just a suggestion and outline of a possible dart-kata that once mastered will in all probability take you to the winner’s circle time and again and also remember that a solid achievable byproduct of this type of immovable mind still gets you the win and still puts you in the money as long as you adhere to the other principles of such a discipline - practice, practice, practice and when you have reached master you practice, practice and practice some more. The key to success is diligent, continuous, ongoing and reality based practice, practice, practice with training, training, and more training.

Remember, and review the articles below, that the basics are critical in both throwing darts and the practice through dart-kata, dart-kamae and reality based practices and competitions. 

BASICS: The Throw; The Grip; The Stance (Dart Kamae); and Moving.

Note: It may come up, what experience do I have that makes me qualified to write such articles? First, I have over forty years in martial arts, i.e., Okinawan karate and Chinese Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Gung. I tossed darts for three years with a moderate amount of success about twenty years ago. I am returning and applying my skills in martial arts toward the art of darts. I am also returning to darts so I am not just developing things like the datsu-no-kata but practicing diligently to gain back my previous skills then go past those toward a type of mastery. I will be returning to local dart events to continue the return and my goal is to qualify to compete against myself in tournaments against my peers who have more years, more experience and more mastery than I.

My goal in writing these articles is first and foremost selfish, I am using it as a means to analyze and synthesize my dart prowess what ever level that may be at this time. I am also writing to develop and improve my writing abilities and finally I write in a public/social forum, this blog, so I may present my theories, ideas, and results to others to exchange them in a manner that allows all of us in the dart community to improve and play well not just with ourselves but with others. 

Chaplin, Patrick, PhD. “The Official Bar Guide to Darts.” Sterling Publishing. New York. 2010.

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