Sunday, June 22, 2014

I finally did it !

This morning I completed  a goal I had set about a year ago : Practice each waza of our KNBK curriculum 150 times each.

Well actually, I only practiced the waza I know. Advanced techniques such as Okuden Suwariwaza I never really studied enough to feel comfortable with them.
Also, these are just the solo practice waza : Batto - Ho (12 waza), Shoden seiza (11 waza), Chuden tatehiza (10 waza) and Okuden Tachiwaza (11 waza). Katachi are not included. 
I also had to limit myself to  the standing version of Chuden Waza as my right knee is not ready yet for Tatehiza.

But all together that makes quite a few waza, quite a few Nukitsuke, Kirioroshi, Chiburi and Noto ! With a total of 44 waza, that makes a total of 6600 waza.

Does it make me an expert ? certainly not, but it has helped me improve. I strongly believe that only the consecutive repetition of the same waza, times and times, allows you to become acutely aware of body positions, the muscles you actually use, the way you bend your joints... Develop muscle memory - And is the only way to get better by researching and fine-tuning your moves. In my personal case, I think I have to practice a move at least 12 times in a row to be able to really feel the details of how my body relates to it.

Most of us have heard the saying that every move should be repeated 10,000 times to be perfected executed. Where does this number actually comes from ? Is it accurate ?

Well, it comes from Chinese Taoism and it is not to be taken literally. In Taoism the "ten thousand things" means the Complete Universe, all that exists. So when you are told to practice each waza 10,000 times, what you are told really, is to keep practicing them for ever...

Nevertheless, I believe in progressing step by step, and in recording your progress. Every time I practice one waza 10 times, I draw a little line on a recording sheet. It is easy to do, and I invite you to follow me.

If all goes well, I will visit my friends Francis and Jean Luc, also my Kendo and Ju Jitsu Instructors in France next week. More to learn and enjoy. 

For those of you who cannot practice from Seiza or Tatehiza positions, the standing versions of the Shoden and Chuden waza are beautifully described in the Advanced Samurai Swordsmanship set of DVD by Masayuki Shimabukuro Hanshi and Carl Long Kyoshi.

In a next post I will elaborate on the healing aspect of this kind of practice on the joints.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Raising from Seiza

A friend of mine had a Math teacher, a long time ago, who would individually comment on the test results of each student. The guy was a great motivator, one of his classical saying was :

"Mr Smith,  there were to ways to solve this problem: The right way, ... and yours"

As we get older, it becomes increasingly important to save our energy and optimize its use.

Basically: apply the littlest effort to achieve the maximum effect.

Last February I hurt (again) my right knee: I was performing a classical Jujitsu move when my knee unexpectedly collapsed at an unusual and painful angle. 

Since then, I have avoided walking as much as as I used to (and I used to walk a lot). This considerably weakened the quadriceps of both my legs, and the my right calf. I am presently trying to slowly rebuild them by gently practicing my Iai from Seiza and Tatehiza positions. And here is a little trick I practice, which you might want to try.

At the end of each waza, you stand up from a half kneeling position : one knee is up with its foot flat on the ground, the other knee is on the floor.

Your position in this stance is important, you can do it the hard way or the smart way.

If instead of using a short stance to lift your torso vertically using mostly your quadriceps, you adopt a slightly longer stance and push forward with your back foot, you will be surprised how easier it becomes. You will raise almost effortlessly with more stability.

To do this, I take a stance about 6" longer than usual. You need to figure out what is good for you. 

Of course, if you are tough, you still can do it the hard way !