Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Small Talk

We have been talking a lot about the guard and footwork in the current cycle.  Since we are doing knife work it seems especially appropriate.

One point I have been repeating again and again is the fact that we don't really have rising motions in FMA - in fact, just the opposite.  FMA is, in a certain sense, the art of being SMALL.  What do I mean?

In the guard, our main objective is to offer no unintended opening to an opponent.  This means that we want to hide as much of our body behind our weapon (empty hand, stick or blade) as possible.  To do so, we necessarily must make ourselves smaller in order to maximize the coverage of our weapon.  In a knife guard, this means rounding the shoulders and trying to keep as much of our the area between our four "gates"  (both shoulders and hips framing our torso) behind our forearms as possible.  With a stick/blade, it means keeping the weapon in front and our head/torso concealed behind it as much as possible.

In our footwork, this means that we never step with a rising feeling.  When we move in our triangles or replacement footwork, the goal is to make every step a coiling step, that is, to step to the ball of the foot and bend the knee, so that the weight transfer can load to the stepping leg and give us a prepared base to explode from.  Proper footwork means not needing any additional step/shift to go forward into the target.
If we had a rising feeling to our footwork, we would have to let our weight "settle" before moving - and that takes time we do not want to spend.

Even when we employ elastico, moving our hips away and back to protect the low line, this is not done with a rising feeling.  Instead, we try to keep the head and body low, and just shift from the waist down without giving up the position of the hips/pelvis close to the opponent.  This is an important way to create distance while staying close.

While it is very important to develop the skill to stay small and compressed when moving, I have to emphasize that this must be done without compromising the posture and structure.  It will simply not do to bend, lean or twist the body in order to achieve "smallness".  Smallness is achieved by keeping the knees bent, the weight on the balls of the feet, and the shoulders rounded.  This must be done while keeping the spine straight and the head in alignment (chin tilted slightly downward is OK).

Even the simplest and most basic of movements have lessons for us.  Sometimes you need to think small to see the big picture.

No comments: