Friday 11 April 2008

Efficiency of movement

Effortless power. I read a book called the Principles of Effortless Power which claimed that the author, a winner of wushu competitions in China (unheard of for a Westerner at that time) would imagine himself like a drop of water: fluid, mobile, unrestricted.

My teacher pulled me up on something the other day and illustrated back to me how I executed a technique. It was right (I note this for my pride...shame!) but I was adding in unnecessary movement. Power and movement should be effortless and above all efficient. I am reminded of something a very good classical guitar player told me once: the fingers should hover above the frets like pistons, ready to fire down onto the strings when needed. To lift the fingers high off the fret board is useless as they have to come all the way back down! Only bring them off the strings enough not to foul the note, but close enough to zap straight back onto the string when needed.

Thus it is for martial arts and movement of the body. Only do enough. Make power effortless.

Chaos taking

The term literally means "chaos taking" or "grasping freedom," (Reference.)

Kitchen sink yoga

It's always hard to make time for stuff you want to do isn't it?

I mean, between the kids, work, housework, garden, cooking, relaxing, time with spouse, DIY, blogging....the list could go on! Plus as mentioned in another blog article it's easy to make excuses. The one-eyed god is sat in the corner of the room demanding our attention. Oh and there's a bottle of wine open, so why go training? It's cold outside...!

I there is a way to supplement regular training in everyday movement and tasks. And I don't mean doing kicks whilst waiting for the bus at the bus stop. But you could practice deep breathing at the bus stop! Or discreetly stretch out leg muscles. Visualise those kata while you're waiting for your appointment at the doctors. As you're moving around cutting the lawn ensure correct posture. Bend with your knees, breath fluidly, stretch your muscles.

May sound like common sense, but this can really complement your martial training. When I competed at Tang Soo Do I would often visualise hyungs in bed before going to sleep. Or even just single or combined techniques. This non-active training helps keep you sharp.

It also goes by another name: mindfulness.

Monday 7 April 2008

A regular martial artist

It's been a long time since I've been in a normal training regime due to half term and laziness- I could have found a club in Brussels or Hartlepool or even just trained for 20 minutes in my own time and space, but no I haven't trained actively for a couple of weeks. I'm reminded of my Tang Soo Do teacher's analogy of rowing a boat up river: when you stop you don't stand still, you go backwards.

He also was keen on emphasising that it's easy to say we don't have time for things that are hard work, require effort. Oh, I'm tired and I've had a long day. Oh the children were keeping me busy. Oh I was invited for a beer with a friend on that night. He would say simply that if you desire something you will make time for it. Simply put if you are invited to dinner on Wednesday, the only reply can be: Wednesday is training night, so no thanks. Regular training is an essential part of martial arts. You just can't study it from a book or in isolation. For a time, maybe, but long term, like many creative arts, you need critical input.