Monday, 20 August 2007

Same, same....but different!

Shorinji Kempo tonight was, well: same, same but different! When I travelled to Vietnam with my wife we encountered many excellent salesmen all selling very similar items and each one wanting you to buy from them rather than their rivals. As a result, if I asked if something they were selling was the same as the one sold in a shop I'd seen or by another vendor they would reply: "Yes, yes. Same, same....but different"!

I have studied martial arts in one form or another for almost 20 years. I started with Goya Ra Ru at university (now split into Tetsudo and Goya Ra Ru), then started Tang Soo Do when I was living in Belgium. I started this based on the leaflet that came through my door at the time when I was thinking about continuing my martial studies. The leaflet said: "Venez vous entrainer, sans perdre la sourire". Excellent philosophy I thought!

And this brings me to Shorinji Kempo: also a striking art with elements of locks, twists and throws. Same as Tang Soo Do really? Erm, well no. My point isn't to highlight the differences, just that tonight whilst practicing moving kihon (joined moves of blocks, kicks and punches) I found it hard work! Mostly because everything I knew and had trained hard for during many years was very similar....but not quite what was needed. The movements felt right but I executed them clumsily. Thinking too much. The sensei emphasised the need for good flowing attacks, not stilted 1-2-3 moves. My partner obliged and finally it started to flow. His point was that your if the attack is fast, flowing and determined, then your reactions take over and this can in fact help refine your technique.

I got a lot from tonight's training: after being frustrated because it was similar to what I had known but different enough (in terms of focus and strategy) for me to stumble through the first exercises, then through a slight moment of clarity when it flowed as it should...

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