Learning is Endless

The Basics are the Advanced Techniques

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06/02/2005 10:41:35 PM

by Richard Conceicao

Hello everyone!
I have just finished my second day at a martial arts seminar, and will be going on the rest of the weekend. Those of you who will be attending try and call me or catch me when you are there.

So far I have realized (once again) just how much I suck at this stuff, and how much I have to learn. What is even worse, how much practicing I will have to do to improve.

But there are some lessons that we keep returning to because they are core principles.

I. Structure. I have worked on this with some of you, and some of you were lucky to have one of my old teachers instruct you directly on it. When we have good structure we can resist forces without effort. The forces are all directed into the ground through our skeleton. We do not have to try to resist with our muscles. Going in the opposite direction we can exert force from a stable platform. This ensures the force going into what we are pushing/striking instead of recoiling into us.

II.Relaxation. Wooden rigid stances, tight fists, focused grimacing blocks, etc., are always the opposite of what they appear to be. They exert no power and are slow as molasses. True speed and power lie in our ability to relax. Many of you have never seen really advanced Karate practitiones—they are like rubber bands. You might confuse them with Tai-Chi people they look so loose. When you watch tournament form competition, the guys that win are the ones who are doing it wrong.

III. Movement and positioning. We must always pay attention to how we move and maintain our structure as we do it. It is not a natural feeling-it has to be learned through hard work and great attention. How many of you are able to pick you favorite form, start doing it, and have somebody yell freeze at any time and check how good your stance is structurally? Try it sometime you will be as humbled as me. Do the same with where your breath is. Is it consistent with the motion at hand or the opposite of what it should be? Are your hips level and on the same plane throughout your movement? Or does your belt bob up and down like a cork in the water.

IV. Intent. Does your mind direct every movement to be done as if you really meant to do it, or are you just running through movements on the surface. Remember how you felt when you were going to break a board? Do you keep that same frame of mind in your form or ,even more importantly, when you are doing your two person drills? Intent makes the Chi go and infuse the motion with power. Bruce Lee told his student that his side kick was no good because it didn’t have “emotional content”. A good enough way to put it.

V.Thought. Hah! We never think of this one do we. When we are confronting an enemy we should have planned where we are going to fight (terrain) with what weapons, and we should know what we are going to do 5-7 moves IN ADVANCE OF HIS FIRST MOVE!!! It is like a chess game. We don’t do one of anything and then stop. We have to have a way of going to something else as the oppourtunity presents itself. Effortless flow from one technique to the other. Is it easy? Hell no, but that is why we spend a lifetime perfecting ourselves.

Go back and look at all you are doing right now and try to put some of the above principles to work in your practice. If it makes any of you feel better you can come watch me struggle too.