Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pebbles and String

Japanese sword teaches you the extension that is necessary to cut efficiently. The tip of the sword extends out to the furthest point in it's arc, before it connects with the target.
The same principle applies to flexible weapons such as the Latigo, or whip, found in some FMA systems.
I've mentioned before that Sonny used different weapons and their characteristics, to teach different applications for other weapons - for instance, he used the Latigo concept to help folks with their Largo (cane) skills.
The biggest key, true for all weapons in fact, is learning how to use the weapon as an extension of the body, the whole working as one unit, rather than thinking of the weapon as a thing, attached to the hand. You don't even need a real Latigo to work the concept.

Please do not attempt the following if you are an idiot, have no proprioception, or practice around small children or animals.

A cheap, but interesting training tool is to tie a small, I repeat, small, pebble to the end of a cord that's about the length of a cane. It is important that the pebble end drags on the ground, and with your arm at your side, there should be quite some slack.
Game is to try to throw overhand and underhand strikes, keeping the string taut at all times, dragging the string and moving the body as you recycle the hits.
There is no skill in just twirling it with your wrist, repeating the same strike over and over again, or going real fast. Skill comes from moving around, choosing your moment, then throwing 1, 2, or 3 different angles, at different ranges with power and efficient recycle .... whilst stepping. Gotta move around between strikes or it makes no sense. The key is to keep the extension in the string, through your body, before you strike
The reasons why the pebble is small? .... If you are aiming for someone/thing you may hit them by accident, so small pebbles are safer. If your extension and footwork are bad you may also hit yourself. And last but not least, less weight makes it harder to keep the momentum going, which means you have to use your whole body to create meaningful strikes.

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