Saturday, August 22, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Re-issued in 2009, with a new forward and afterword by Moti Nativ, Feldenkrais's little book includes additional photos, including an appendix with a sequence showing Feldenkrais's teacher Kawaishi applying the eponymous technique to Feldenkrais in a dojo setting.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
There were people of all ages, but I was acutely aware that I was the lowest grade by far for someone my age or older. The only other white belt, in fact, was six years old. I passed the first grading, but was still absurdly ashamed of my level. Not being remotely competitive by nature, something like this should have been a put off. Here I was, spending hours at a time making awkward, jerky and unbalanced movements for reasons I was aware I didn’t really grasp, and generally feeling abnormal and uncoordinated. And yet I loved every minute of it. I wanted to do it for no other reason than to do it. The concept of improvement was lurking in the back of my mind somewhere, but I found that each time I did a technique it was enough to just concentrate on trying to get the movement right. Indeed, it was more than enough. It felt fantastic. I had never felt this passionate about something before, and indeed only once since.
Sunday, August 02, 2009
- Most styles have some solo elements: For example, in my jiu-jitsu classes most of the breakfalling exercises are performed individually (although as a group). Many of these require mats -- another obstacle to home practice -- but many do not. Try those ones at home. Benefits: These sorts of drills develop coordination and physical conditioning appropriate to the art.
- Partner techniques can be practiced within an imaginary partner: You've practiced a technique class. Practice at home, but imagine your partner. In karate or kung fu the challenge is often to figure out the application of a solo form. In partner-based styles we can go the other way. You can practice against different-sized phantom opponents, invent combinations, etc. For my students I highly recommend practicing the eight movements of kuzushi in this way (video). Benefits: Improved fluency, strengthens the imagination, etc.
- Partner techniques can be visualized without moving: This one borders on some forms of meditation, and can be practiced while standing, sitting in seiza, on the train, as a cure for insomnia. Visualize an entire technique, imagining the movements in as much detail as you can. Feldenkrais had a nice idea in his Awareness through Movement technique that we can steal: Practice an asymmetric technique several times in its right-handed version with an imaginary partner. Then do a few reps visualizing the left-handed version without moving. Benefits: Even stronger mental training. Improves your adaptability. Learn to transfer skills drilled on one side to the other with minimal physical practice.
- Find the fundamental movements: Applications in the martial arts can be quite elaborate, but there are movements that come up over and over. By practicing with your imaginary partner these should become more and more apparent. Isolate them and practice them, visualizing the various applications. This kind of practice can start to look a bit like qigong. Benefits: Most of the above, plus gain deeper insight into your martial art.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
Kangaroos have large, stretchy tendons in their hind legs. They store elastic strain energy in the tendons of their large hind legs, providing most of the energy required for each hop by the spring action of the tendons rather than by any muscular effort. This is true in all animal species which have muscles connected to their skeleton through elastic elements such as tendons, but the effect is more pronounced in kangaroos.
There is also a link between the hopping action and breathing: as the feet leave the ground, air is expelled from the lungs; bringing the feet forward ready for landing refills the lungs, providing further energy efficiency. Studies of kangaroos and wallabies have demonstrated that, beyond the minimum energy expenditure required to hop at all, increased speed requires very little extra effort (much less than the same speed increase in, say, a horse, dog or human), and that the extra energy is required to carry extra weight. -- Source: Wikipedia.