I fear I'm getting old. I went to judo last night, and was disappointed that all we did were techniques and randori, but no kata practice. Lately I find kata practice more interesting even than randori. Randori is still fun, but I'm getting a lot more out of the careful exploration of attack and counter-attack, spacing and defense that make up the kata in Kodokan Judo. It may just be me, but I find that when I do a lot of randori, I have fun, but I don't progress. When I do kata, whether they are the official kata of Kodokan Judo, or unofficial kata presented as training exercises, I learn something and my judo grows.
Lately I've been working on Nage No Kata and the Kodokan Goshinjutsu. Both are fun, and both teach me something about working at various distances that I can't get from randori. It's especially good when my partner progresses to the level of being able to really attack. Then I have to stretch my skills to keep up with the strength and speed that he can put into the kata.
It's in the kata that I can see and really feel the sense of yawara and the seiryoku zenyo. Too often in randori I find myself substituting muscle for technique. In the kata I feel more like I am focused on the essence of Judo.
Yet another take on the gender conundrum - I spent a little time training in the old country lately. I was fortunate, this time, in that the training seminar was sparsely attended, so I got my butt ...