Thursday, August 28, 2008

P is for Plateau

C may be for Cookie but P is without a doubt for Plateau. Unlike a plateau in running or lifting weights, in martial arts it is largely if not entirely psychological. So it pays to identify one when as it happens and to know what it feels like. With that mindset you can turn a potentially frustrating moment into a very exciting one.

In the last month I've been very frustrated with my performance on the mat. Almost as if I thought that I was once better and am now worse. After every class I see very clearly where I went wrong. Consistently I feel as if my weight is not centered (almost as if I'm top heavy), my entries are not deep enough and I can never get low enough for a hip throw without having to muscle people around. As for the last one, that one may actually have gotten worse, because I was sure that I was getting low enough at some point.

Yet in spite of my self criticism, I've realized something important and my frustration has just washed away. All of the aforementioned problems are things that I feel. For the first time in my training, I can sense these things myself. This may not be the equivalent of progress but it's a huge leap forward for me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A personal Epiphany

Sometimes, while studying very linear concepts, we stumble upon universal truths. Today Sensei Ivan was teaching class and he was attempting to stress the importance of not grabbing onto the Uke during those techniques. His point of view was that if we don't grab on, we are free to decide what we want to do and we are not tied down to a single technique or set of techniques available from that grip. He said;
"Don't hold on, you want to be free. But sometimes in order to get freedom; you have to give up control." - Sensei Ivan
I can only imagine that at the moment his goal was to illustrate a concept which is the basis of his technique. But it doesn't take much to see that there are layers of truth in this.

Friday, August 01, 2008

I've found my hips!

It took me two years but I've found my hips! As it turns out they were just beneath my belly all along!

In this last month I've been told that its time to stop leaving my hips behind, so I've focused on bringing them forward. Actually the best time to work on this was during stretching exercises. As I would stretch my wrists I would bring my hips forward in an exaggerated fashion. After a few weeks I noticed that it was having an effect on my techniques as well. I am not used to that kind of posture and for the whole month, I've felt wobbly as if I was always on the brink of falling forward when I push my hips forward.

It's probably going to take me a long time to figure out where and when I want to angle my hips, but at least I know what I'm trying to do.