Sunday, June 07, 2009

Theme of the month June 2009: Chaos and Control

Although there are a bunch of advanced themes I could choose to go onto, the nature of my class --- heavy in beginners -- is such that I want to stick with themes that work from a more basic level.  If you have more experience you are of course free to journey deeper into the same theme!

With gradings coming up in early July I want to work on technical detail, reviewing the basics and chip away at improving form.  

More than being able to reproduce the appearance of a technique -- which must adapt to the practitioner, partner, and situation -- is to grasp the elements, variables and feeling.  

Some tips:
  • Learn all the components: Watch your instructor closely; feel how the bits work on you; refine, refine, refine ...
  • Go slow:  Speed hides deficiencies and can be easily recovered later.
  • Work with lots of partners: Feel how they do it; feel how it works differently; adjust, adjust, adjust.  [If you're struggling get some time with someone of similar size and shape to yourself, and then branch out.]
  • Learn the variations: Different instructors tweak things different ways.  Try them out.  Compare and contrast.  What trade-offs are they are making?
  • Internalize: Techniques must become second nature before you can pull them off spontaneously and improvise to deal with an unexpected attack.  Practice, practice, practice ...
We begin to train for chaos in two main ways: randori (sparring), and reflexive self-defence (in which an agreed attack is met with an unrehearsed response).  Without some training in control these exercises tend to be somewhat brutish and counter-productive, so we ease our way in gradually, especially by pairing beginners with more experienced partners.

  • Attempt the techniques that you're learning in class: This is where you'll learn counters and combinations
  • Go soft and slow:  As above
  • Learn from your partner: If something works well on you, ask them to show you how they did it (or figure it out yourself)
Have fun.  

There's heaps to learn in the interplay of chaos and control.  If the theory is getting too dry, you need to play more.  If you're hitting barriers in your randori formulate your issues as questions and dive back into the control aspects and start looking for answers.

And for those of you who picked up on the Get Smart reference in the title, here's a handy home hint on how to (not) deal with a suspicious package:

A scene from the 60s and 70s TV series: Get Smart

Previous posts on this theme:


Matt "Ikigai" said...

I often teach the same principles to beginners - watch closely, try repeatedly, and go slow.

Great tips in this post!