What to practice vs how to practice

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What to practice vs how to practice

Postby Dana Sheets » Mon Jun 18, 2007 2:24 pm

When I learned hojo-undo I was told that the most important part of the exercise, for my level, was the stance. That I should focus on keeping a good sanchin and using my legs throughout the exercise.

When I was taught sanchin I was told to focus on keeping my whole body coordinated, to keep my attention constant, visualize my connection to the ground passing deep beneath the boards of the dojo floor.

When I was taught kanshiwa I was told to see my attacker, to visualize what was being seized, hit, and/or damaged.

In short, my body wasn't the only think I was asked to train.

Chinese martial arts evolved for many hundreds if not thousands of years. By the time Kanbun Uechi got to China he would have encountered traditions derived from significant refinement from trail and error and field testing over time.

Specific elements of the training would have led to specific outcomes. In that sense, to me, the details are huge.

Detail #1: squeeze your hands together into fists as hard as you can each time you do the opening of sanchin.

Outcomes: strengthens the grip, strengthens the fingers, flushes blood through the forearms, strengthens the attachment points of the connective tissues from the fingers to the elbows, builds the muscles of the forearms.
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Postby f.Channell » Mon Jun 18, 2007 4:55 pm

I was 15 and either wasn't listening or wasn't told anything, or both.

But it's all there to be discovered for oneself.

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Postby Dana Sheets » Mon Jun 18, 2007 9:32 pm

Yah - I hear you. I also really believe we need to be telling students where they're headed.

I was talking with a very experienced Uechi practitioner and he told me that was somewhat frustrated with the idea that students are supposed to figure it all out for themselves. he said "If someone asks me where the post office is in my town, I don't point and say 'over there' - they might find it, they might not. I give them step by step instructions on how to find it. And then wish them good luck on their journey."

I mean - we don't lock an engineer in the room with a printing press and tell them to figure it out on their own. That isn't efficient.

The same should be true for training in Uechi. You can lead a horse to water - and we should be leading our students as close to the water as we can get them. The repetition and consistency of training is up to them - however, IMO we need to tell them -- clearly -- what we expect them to be learning to do with their bodies and their minds.

Training in Uechi-Ryu Karate shouldn't be a guessing game.
Last edited by Dana Sheets on Tue Jun 19, 2007 9:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby fivedragons » Tue Jun 19, 2007 6:08 am

But then again, when I was taught how to practice sanchin, it was pretty clear.

I had no idea what it was suppposed to accomplish, so I guess a leap of faith was needed to continue practicing.

If I didn't believe in the integrity of my teacher, I wouldn't have practiced such a bizarre and seemingly ridiculous set of movements for so long.

Now that I've practiced for so many years, I can only thank my teacher, and that little bit of faith, for taking me somewhere that I just couldn't understand at the time.

:D
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Postby RA Miller » Tue Jun 19, 2007 2:20 pm

Dana-

I've been doing most of my writing elsewhere, but this echoed something for me that I wrote last month in response to a comment:

------------------------Paste-----------------------

There was an anonymous comment on the last entry:

"If you think you can turn a cross section of society into the martial expert that is Rory, you might be in for a big letdown. But I think you will have fun trying, and everyone in your classes will learn something they wouldn't learn anywhere else. "

Assuming that wasn't pure sarcasm, here's the deal:

I'm no expert. I'm a nearly crippled up middle aged man with some skill, some experience and some mean. But I'm consistently successful against people who are bigger, stronger, faster and/or more proficient than me. My theory, and what I want to do with this group, is not to teach them to move like me. I want to teach them how I think.

Most martial artists learn how to move, then they use this 'right way to move' and either attempt to understand violence through that filter or ignore it altogether. I want to set up violence as the world, the context. From my mind and their own experiences teach them how to think about it, how to plan, what to see, how that drives reaction... and then have them work on their own movement in that world.

Less forging a sword than growing a tree. Oooh- better analogy: Martial arts tries to create warriors. I want to re-introduce a predator to the wild. Not build, but awaken.

--------------End Paste-------------------

Followed it up here

http://chirontraining.blogspot.com/2007 ... right.html

Thinking a lot lately about how to teach, how to get stuff from my head and instincts into someone else.

Rory
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Postby Dana Sheets » Tue Jun 19, 2007 7:18 pm

The primary conflict is that the physical actions of self defense must be dead simple, but humans refuse to do anything simple for very long. They start embellishing.


That is just excellent. We had a guest in the dojo this past week from Okinawa. He talked about the simplicity and repetition of Uechi training. He mentioned that it got boring - but he also said that it was never perfect.

This is exactly why you don't need lots of curriculum, you need a little good curriculum. There is no need to add extra stuff unless you can't train all you know, 100% of the time, with the stuff you have.

The difference between education and edutainment.

Very good stuff Rory. I hadn't been to your blog in awhile - I'll enjoy digging through it.

Thanks!
-d
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Postby Jake Steinmann » Tue Jun 19, 2007 7:40 pm

RA Miller wrote:Dana-

I've been doing most of my writing elsewhere, but this echoed something for me that I wrote last month in response to a comment:

------------------------Paste-----------------------

There was an anonymous comment on the last entry:

"If you think you can turn a cross section of society into the martial expert that is Rory, you might be in for a big letdown. But I think you will have fun trying, and everyone in your classes will learn something they wouldn't learn anywhere else. "

Assuming that wasn't pure sarcasm, here's the deal:

I'm no expert. I'm a nearly crippled up middle aged man with some skill, some experience and some mean. But I'm consistently successful against people who are bigger, stronger, faster and/or more proficient than me. My theory, and what I want to do with this group, is not to teach them to move like me. I want to teach them how I think.

Most martial artists learn how to move, then they use this 'right way to move' and either attempt to understand violence through that filter or ignore it altogether. I want to set up violence as the world, the context. From my mind and their own experiences teach them how to think about it, how to plan, what to see, how that drives reaction... and then have them work on their own movement in that world.

Less forging a sword than growing a tree. Oooh- better analogy: Martial arts tries to create warriors. I want to re-introduce a predator to the wild. Not build, but awaken.

--------------End Paste-------------------

Followed it up here

http://chirontraining.blogspot.com/2007 ... right.html

Thinking a lot lately about how to teach, how to get stuff from my head and instincts into someone else.

Rory


Rory,

Just wanted to say that I regularly read your blog, and get a whole lot out of doing so. It's really good stuff.
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Postby Dana Sheets » Tue Jun 19, 2007 9:46 pm

Rory - the training you're talking about - training mindset before movements - is that for the professionals or for the people who've never been in a fight?
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Postby MikeK » Tue Jun 19, 2007 10:22 pm

Dana Sheets wrote:Rory - the training you're talking about - training mindset before movements - is that for the professionals or for the people who've never been in a fight?


I'm not Rory, but I noticed a change in our new guy, YAM's mindset since I got back from surgery. Suddenly he's engaging in the fight and staying engaged until it's done one way or the other. I asked him about it and he said he got tired of getting hit. Knowing the methods of the guy I train under he probably got tired of getting slapped and tapped if he didn't deal with what was coming at him. I'll tell you during sparring this weekend his new mindset surprised me and forced me to up my game more than his technique did.

FWIW, YAM has never taken a martial art or had much interest in fighting, so he's developing totally from the ground up.
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Postby RA Miller » Wed Jun 20, 2007 2:55 pm

Dana Sheets wrote:Rory - the training you're talking about - training mindset before movements - is that for the professionals or for the people who've never been in a fight?


Dana- this class (if it happens) will be all civilians.

Here's another analogy- martial arts and auto mechanics.

In martial arts you get some tools (punches, blocks, throws versus wrenches and screwdrivers) and how to use the tools (hip and drop step versus 'right to tight, left to loosen'). Occassionally you get some application- scenarios, bunkai or scripted kumite.

But a mechanic spends a lot of time learning how cars work. That's how he or she can figure out what the problem is and how to fix it- the combination of understanding the engine and diagnostic skills.

Those last two- understanding violence and conflict and tuning the senses to that- seemed to be skipped. Not just in martial arts, most people don't know much about the subject.

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Rory...

Postby gmattson » Wed Jun 20, 2007 6:38 pm

I hope you will be able to offer this course at our SummerFest this year! I know it won't be as popular as Kami's "Belly Dancing for stiff Uechi practitioners", but then what seminar can compete with Kami!!! :)
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Postby dejsis » Thu Jun 28, 2007 7:31 pm

Dana Sheets wrote:
The same should be true for training in Uechi. You can lead a horse to water - and we should be leading our students as close to the water as we can get them. The repetition and consistency of training is up to them - however, IMO we need to tell them -- clearly -- what we expect them to be learning to do with their bodies and their minds.

Training in Uechi-Ryu Karate shouldn't be a guessing game.


Maybe it's just my personal approach to learning (I always had a bit of an authority problem :lol: ), but I've found that people telling me how things should be done doesn't really work. For me. Maybe for other students it does.
The way I know I have really learned something is when I can do it my own way. Nobody knows it better how your body, and especially how your mind, works than yourself and no amount of instruction can replace that. I guess it's up to the teacher to figure out which type of a student you are.
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Postby jorvik » Thu Jun 28, 2007 8:59 pm

That' s a very astute observation :D ....and one which is more classical than folks imagine, much more so than the kind of militaristic approache that karate seems to promote.
some things get out of proportion to their true value.e.g. "conditioning".............that shouldn't be promoted as much as it is.......................it has some value.....but nowhere near the amount that some folks attribute to it :wink:
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Postby Dana Sheets » Fri Jun 29, 2007 10:38 am

What is the role of a teacher if not to help you identify what to train to improve?
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Postby mhosea » Fri Jun 29, 2007 4:12 pm

I think the confusion in these things occurs when people think of "my way" as however I naturally tend to do something, anything. I maintain, that "my way" isn't that at all. In fact, I don't often even know "my way", at least not until I've worked on something for a long time. I think of style as a broad context, and the optimal execution of technique, or a way to train for it, as something which is tuned to the individual. The role of the instructor is to shepherd this process.
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