Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Going back

One of my students recently went to the Exploratorium's Tactile Dome. A journey in complete darkness that you must feel your way through. The first time, you're just looking for the one way out. The next time through, you get a chance to feel around and see if you can find anything new.

The last few kali classes, I've been going back to the classic style. What I call the classic style is the style that I saw when I first practiced, what can be recognized as "typical" Filipino Martial Arts.

As I've watched the students practice, I've noticed some things that were missing. Little things. Subtle things. I had to go back. We've dropped stuff along the way.

I've been teaching for 12 years now and it feels like I'm beginning again. The first time around I kind of stumbled along trying to remember what was taught to me and repeating that method. This time around I'm getting a chance to see new things, how things connect, why this movement was needed to get to this movement. Each time I teach nowadays there really is something incredible to learn and uncover.

So I've been going back. The Classic Style. yes. The percussive left hand. We started with the left hand percussive because it's the only way anyone knew how to use it. Then people learned how to blend and manipulate. But then to go back to percussive really tests ones accuracy and sensitivity. When you return to something, do you go back to the way you did it then or are you able to return to it as another layer? Do you have a deeper understanding of what you did before? One of them simply defaulted to how they had learned it. I remember when I defaulted. I didn't think there was much more else you could do with the technique. Once learned, it was boring and repetitive. I just didn't know its potential.

Simply using the left hand was difficult for some. It forced them to move their trigger, stop using muscle, and learn to follow their weapon. Instead of forcing the weapon (typically right hand) to do everything (hold the weapon, generate power, manipulate for accuracy), we move the power and accuracy to the left hand. It's a switch in brain thinking. But when they did let go, you could see their entire bodies relax.

In high school, my track coach told me to "run faster." I didn't understand what that meant. I was running as fast as I possibly could go. I instinctively tried to contract my legs more, to harden, to run faster which only resulted in me going slower.

To go faster, one has to create mechanisms to spring them to go faster. The mind only knows one voluntary speed. The body has to be taught what faster feels like.

What it takes to actually go faster is contrary to the instinct the mind takes.I don't need more muscle to be hard, I need the muscle I have to relax. I need my joints to swing. I need muscle and joints to work together to store spring energy. I need less control to be in control.

Next week I think we will go pick up another piece we are slowly losing: to see and not see. Too too easy to fall back into the habit of tunnel vision in sparring.

We did a bit of it today and my student said, "I'm not a very good liar." in reference to how the technique uses some "magic". I told him, "I'm not lying to you, I'm showing you exactly what I'm doing. It's not my fault your looking in a different spot when it happens."

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