Sunday, October 2, 2011
Break-Down Your Motions
When studying/practicing technique's (whether new or known), those technique's should be reduced to their component pieces and procedure of application. Student's very often get transfixed (if not mesmerized) by the finishing position of a given technique.
If the initial and subsequent follow-up motions of a technique are done incorrectly (or even sloppily) that technique has a greater potential of failure. Each of the individually involved motions (of the technique) need to be understood by the user.
What I often encounter (when evaluating a student's performance of a technique), is that the student is (mainly) concerned with the motion's ending being in the desired position. How it gets to that position is (actually) the more important issue.
As an example, the performance of an “Outside Forearm Strike” (some refer to this as an “Outside Block”). To the casual observer, the arm's motion (beginning from the tori's side) crosses the tori's body (low) and raises, crossing (back) across the tori's (upper) body until it is vertical (and in-line with it's relative shoulder). For many beginning student's, that's the end of this motion's instruction. There may be some further clarification as to “hand position” (palm-in or palm-out), but generally, this is how student's are told that one “blocks” a strike (that's intending to plow through your head).
It isn't going to happen that way. But that's what they're told. And even after having experienced that it doesn't happen that way. Those same individual's will continue to tell other (if not their own) student's, to perform that motion exactly the same way that they were told to.
There's been a rash of posting's of late about Block's as Strikes and the individual opinion's thereof (both Pro and Con), including one by myself. For the most part, I could give a flying S*&T what anyone else is doing/teaching. I teach that striking an offending limb is more beneficial than simply batting it away. That's not to say that I have a problem with only performing a parry in response to that strike attempt. But, given a choice, I would much prefer to cause damage to that arm with how I execute that response.
The reason that I restate that position (because I've done so before), has to do with how I teach student's to perform an “Outside Forearm Strike/Block” (what-ever). Arm motions (in general) are always practiced as beginning at the tori's side. This isn't to say they should always begin there, only that this would be the most inconvenient position to have to begin from (any other position would have numerous advantages).
The first motion made, is moving the hands/forearm's forward. It should be obvious (because the hand can't cross the body until it does so, LOL), but it's these minor details that I'm referencing to.
When the arm begins to raise, it crosses the body as it does so. This is done mostly to generate a slight momentum advantage, as well as offering an additional amount of coverage from a strike. As the arm circle's upward, and achieves it's vertical positioning, it (then) motions forward (towards the uke). As long as the hand's finger/knuckle positioning has been maintained properly (at a 45º angle, straight wrist), then it won't matter whether the uke's strike is intercepted by the tori's forearm, or with the knuckle's of the hand (during the raising portion of the arm's motion). Even when the aggressor's arm is struck after the motioning hand moves forward (towards, and upon the uke's upper-arm), the uke should experience a loss of ability with that arm.
When done properly, one has the potential to cause damage to the uke's arm, and to divert or knock that attacking limb away (from the tori). The primary goal of the action, is to prevent the tori from being struck. Anything else, is bonus.
If the arm's motion is not practiced (as described), these particular results would be more difficult to reproduce. It isn't (simply) a matter of “raise and swing the arm sideways” to accomplish the motion. There are another dozen motions involved with that whole technique's execution. Merely perceiving it as being a forward motion, confuses many students. Until it's been exampled (and experienced) to a student, it can be difficult to understand the application.
Each of the taught technique's, need to be broken-down to their essential motions. This includes stances and punches, Reviewing kata motions can reveal many improperly performed actions (at least when one is certain of the kata's correct performance, LOL). If your thinking that a kata's motion is only a punch or a block, your probably wrong (or at least still thinking at the novice level). There's nothing wrong with either of those motions, but be aware that there's usually more possibilities.