Saturday, January 7, 2012

No Monotone

As kind of a follow up rant to the 'Outside' post, and I'm sure repeating things in the post a while back about acceleration and deceleration, an idea for any form practice -

There is a reason you traditionally practice slowly to start off with, the thinking is that you need to gain the proprioception needed to co-ordinate your body into the most efficient way of moving possible, gain the ability to have a strong 'root', i.e. connection to the ground, and from that the ability to issue, absorb or redirect power at any moment, and have the ability to recycle power in the 3 dimensions.
Our skeletal structure is designed to work in gravity so there IS a 'best' way to align the bones, and there is a need to free up the tendon and fascia of the body to improve power and efficiency of motion.
There is also a need to un-learn some of the bad habits we have grown into through our every day inattention to alignment and structure that have tightened up the body, caused stiffness, diminished range of motion and our ability to relax etc etc.
BUT ..... If .... IF you are trying to connect the forms to anything martial, or even if you are purely doing it for health, DON'T GET STUCK HERE.
It's only the first step. The soporific effect of a slow, monotone tempo will in the end freeze your brain - perhaps some will disagree - but I truly think that to connect what you do to the environment you are in, your surroundings, and anyone else in it, you need to move WITH the moment.
I'm not saying you can't influence the moment by a calm demeanor and a slower pace, but don't expect the world to follow you if this is the only pace you know.
Stuff does not happen at the same speed all the time, in fact it rarely happens slowly at all, unless you really are trying to connect with the purely natural world of plants growing and glaciers shifting.
Practice at different speeds, trying a form really fast will point out errors going slow will never find.
Practice varying the tempo, and even momentarily holding moments, accelerating fast, stopping, slowly moving again, sudden, sharp movement followed by a slow deceleration, whatever you can think of.
And make it DIFFERENT every time you do it.
Ignore what SEEM like the natural breaks in a form and try to express the power of the move AFTER that.
If a form has a natural 4 count, try to pause every 5 count.
It's good for the body AND the brain.
It's a part of how I teach my students, and how we do form work. If you practice by yourself you can pick pretty much any adverb you like to add to your form - slow, fast, jerky, smooth, heavy, quiet, sneaky, big, powerful, invisible, syncopated ....
Give it a go, see what you think.

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