Saturday, June 15, 2013

Thoughts on the Cycle Test

Friday night we tested on the cycle material.  This is an event that occurs about every 3 months or so, and it's a great opportunity to show me what you know, and checking where you are at.

We had 9 people testing, which is one of the biggest groups ever, ranging from students who were doing their very first test, to several who have been with me for two years since I started the group.

Overall, I was pleased with the test performance, and everyone gave a good snapshot of their skills at this moment in time.

Some thoughts:

Some keys to improving your stickwork include:
relaxing the shoulders - without this, it is hard to get the sticks to move quickly
pushing from the balls of the feet - important that stance be solid, and that the feet drive the stick
chambering - this helps power and coordination and is especially important for beginners
timing - when one stick is out, the other stick (or hand) should be back.  NEVEr have both hands or both sticks out away from the body
extension - use the length of the weapon, extend your arms fully
targeting - always remember what you are aiming at, and put the stick there, rather than just out in empty space
less is more - keep your stickwork compact, never let your arms wave around away from your body

Kadena De Mano
Some keys to improving your kadena de mano include:
relaxing the shoulders - very important here, too
use your legs - lifting/moving the opponent is done with the legs, not the arms.  Use your arms to hit, grab, control, pull.  Use your legs to lift/move.
the entry is KEY - if you are in the right place at the entry, the rest goes much smoother.
footwork - to be in the right place at the right time, your footwork must be a constant part of your practice
precision is more important than power - good technique is always our objective
chambering - as in stickwork and boxing, if one hand is out, the other should be back to pick up any surprises

Some keys to improving your boxing include:
relaxing the shoulders - yep, here too
rotation - rotation of the shoulder axis and hip axis are critical to hit with power
extension - using the full range of motion of the arms is critical to hit with power
chambering - if one glove is out the other is always back on your cheek.  Always.
retraction - if the punch goes out at 50, it should come back at 100.  Retract FAST!
compact - keep guard, elbow covers, body covers against the body with no space between
bend your knees - very important for giving and receiving hits well
balls of the feet - I shouldn't have to say this anymore, should I?

What do you think?  How did you do?  Feel free to PM me your thoughts.
This was a good milestone, and everyone should be pleased with their performance.
We have much to do in the next cycle.  I CAN'T WAIT!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

The Gratitude Attitude

I came across this on the web the other day.  For you non-francophiles, it offers a cup of coffee for 2 euros, or "a cup of coffee, please" for 1.80 euros.  I love it.

I love it not for the fact that it maligns French people's lack of manners toward waiters (although apparently there is that), I like it because it shows an effort to encourage civility between people.  Because the savings is small, it shows that with only a little effort we can start to change how people treat one another.  Small actions can have big consequences.

Martial Arts is about RESPECT.  Respect not only for your training partners, for your teachers, for the dojo, but also, and perhaps most importantly - respect for yourself.

This modern world has many challenges and pitfalls.  Among them are the pervasiveness of connectivity, which can dehumanize us and cause us to lose our human interaction and social skills. Overcrowded cities and trains can make us impersonal and cold toward one another and make us forget our inherent human compassion.  Going to the dojo reawakens us to the importance of human contact in our daily lives.

In a good school you are valued as a student or a teacher.  Your are valued for your commitment to train hard when you are in class, and for your commitment to be an ethical human being when you are outside of class.  Your are valued and respected for the unique role you play in the relationship fabric of the school community, and for your commitment to self-improvement (but not at the expense of others, of course).

This is most especially important for women, since girls in many cultures around the world are raised without a strong sense of identity and self-worth.  Martial arts training is a powerful key to self discovery, through which these girls become capable adults, ready to challenge themselves to do their best in whatever life path they choose.  I have met many women in martial arts, and those who persevere share this common trait of self-respect and dignity.  Even more importantly, I have seen martial arts "magically" transform women from scared little girls into vibrant, passionate people who radiate positive beauty.  In our schools, many of the men and women of our "inner circle" even become vegetarians/vegans as part of their compassionate world view and respect for their own physical/mental/spiritual health.

My mama used to tell me "manners don't cost extra".  In fact, sometimes they can even save you money. :-)