The other day my wife said to me "If there are so many different variations of technique in each kata movement, what do I think about when I'm practicing kata how do I know when to apply each?"
This is refering specifically to the chudan uke, which pops up a lot in Seisan and is basically to me the core movement.
We did this exercise to help.
We got within striking range and I told her to not think about what she was doing and to ignore what I was doing, all she had to do was alternate between left and right chudan uke. I attacked with alternating punches to the chest at random and she mindlessly did the technique. The result is that she started tying my limbs up. They would get twisted around and she'd eventually work to one side of me or the other without thinking about it.
Next I told her to do the same thing except to perform the chudan uke as she wanted to in a spontaneous and creative fashion. I punched and she did the chudan uke. I got tied up even faster because she was taking advantage of my imbalance and openings as she saw them.
Finally I told her to use the technique and look for what Rory Miller calls "Gifts." Now she was tying me up, locking me up and striking all at the same time.
The final result is that she's probably going to kick my ass the next time we spar, and I couldn't be happier.
Anyway this was how I explained to her how to use the chudan uke creatively and spontaneously to take advantage of openings as they come instead of trying to flip through the list of applications in her head.
I thought I'd share it. I hope it helps someone else.