Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Refining the Reflexes

My sensei has given everyone in the dojo a nickname and my son's is "Squirrel" - because he is very jumpy when someone is throwing a technique at him. I mean, VERY jumpy...

But I've noticed that I'm not "jumpy" at all in the dojo, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Like when class is done and we're just sort of standing around chatting before we grab our gear bags and head back into the real world, I've been "sneaked up on" from behind and have hardly reacted at all. Not an empi, not a parry, not a chamber in prep for a strike - nothing. I just kinda turn and smile, not in fight or flight mode at all. Perhaps it's just that I feel safe in the training hall - in that I know no one there is trying to hurt me ever - but maybe that's not such a good thing, either, because how I commit it to muscle memory will be how it will be done if I ever need to use it, right?

An example: since Fall is here, it's now dark as I head to my evening classes on the college campus where I teach. Last night, I really tried to make myself aware of my surroundings, aiming to kinda "feel" folks moving around near the corners of buildings or in the vestibules that aren't too well lit. Too many times, I didn't notice someone was in my immediate vicinity until they were almost close enough to reach out and touch or grab me - especially when they approached me from behind, like the young woman on her bike who rode up on my left and crossed in front of me to get to the bike rack. Didn't even realize she was there until she was almost right next to me. Not good. I don't know how to train to make it better.

Not that I want to whip around and yell like a crazy person when I'm approached, but some awareness would be nice. I'm stumped, though. Any suggestions?

My nickname, by the way, is "Neo" - as in the questioning fella in "The Matrix." Hmmm...


  1. Hi Felicia, I empathise. Bike riders can be very silent and stealthy! I'm not sure what the answer is but I'm sure true awareness is related to that ability to empty the mind i.e not focus to much on any one thing. Perhaps you are so focused on what may be happening in your visual field that your other senses are suppressed?

    By the way my kobudo sensei sometimes calls me 'Prancer' (after the reindeer)- something to do with the way I jog around in the warm up! He calls my husband the 'silver fox' because of his thick mop of greying hair and quick, precise movements.

  2. For awareness I'd give meditation a try. A meditation practice might also facilitate intuition, which would come in handy as a receptor for your surroundings.

  3. It's a difficult one. I would try to play around with classmates from dojo games where they do what they already do- sneak up on you all the time. You don't have to kick them or punch them but simply be ready for them. Over time it will teach you situational awareness, which will come handy on the streets.
    Also, try to spar a bit more than you do now and work on your defenses, not attacks. Adding Aikido to your training could also help.

  4. Suggestion:First have a calm and quiet mind(not a sleepy mind) , then start to train yourself to be aware of small things, sounds and sights in your surroundings....it takes time to develop into habit....so train daily and progressively...be patient...a little by little gain per day.....be observant. Imagine you are a soldier in a hostile land. What would you do to survive ? Sharpen your senses ! to discover your enemies but not to be discovered. If you have to pick a choice, be a hunter and not a prey.

  5. Apparently one way is to walk about your home with one eye blind folded and you could later progress to both eyes. This forces you to rely on the other sences which will in time improve. It's only what I've read. Vladimir Vasiliev (Systema master) said that it's important to be relaxed. Also relaxation (unlike physical stregth) is progressive throughout your life.