Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Circle of Life: Karate Style

Two different folks have commented on my karate in as many days. "You really know what you're doing!" they've said. These are not folks who have been studying martial arts for as many years as I've been alive, as my senseis have (one has only been training for a few months and the other has never stepped on the mat at all and just happened to be passing through the dojo when I was asked by my training partner to do a kata last Friday night) - so to them, my Empi Ha kata presentation looked all trecherous and bad-ass. But I'm sure if my Sensei was there to witness my presentation, he probably would not have seen the same things as those who gave me kudos did.

I remember when I was learning Empi Ha - a USA Goju kata that has a blazingly fast 11-point attack shortly after it opens - I thought "How will I ever learn that when I can't even SEE what the heck it is that's being done?!?" But I learned it very slowly and, once the bunkai was demonstrated and interpreted, it wasn't such a mystery anymore. Then of course I did it over and over and over again, as most of us are want to do when we are learning a new form. Pretty soon, that 11-point attack - which is done on both sides before it transitions somewhere else - became rote. Fluidity followed and a deeper understanding of it came in drips and drabs after that. It always seemed like a work in progress (as I still have my issues with it), though. I guess that's the point.

I also remember seminars and gradings with the rest of the clan when I was a shiny-new white belt watching the more seasoned karateka move with a grace that I never imagined my choppy, mummy-step movements ever duplicating. I'm sure I spent much of those gatherings with my mouth open in awe, absolutely amazed at what I witnessed - that is, when we weren't forced to avert our eyes and face the wall, LOL.

Somewhere along the line, Mummy Me got lost and my movements changed. The more I moved, the easier it became to move. The understanding of those moves just seemed to follow. It's not that I'm a savant or anything (I'm probably one of the least naturally coordinated individuals to ever walk upright, trust and believe), I'm just a firm believer that it is possible to train a body to do anything if you do it enough. Practice might not make perfect - because perfection isn't something that is ever attained in the martial arts, although we all aim for it - but it does make good karateka better.

The interesting part is that I am still watching my seniors and oooohing and ahhhing over their movements, my students are watching their seniors and doing the same. This weekend, when we took our students down to our sister dojo in NYC, we got quite a few comments from non-gi'd observers about the way our newbies moved. One compliment was directed towards the student I mentioned above who's only been training for a short period. She says she wants to flow like everyone else and doesn't yet realize folks are watching her and admiring what they see. It is a totally cool thing to observe.

The cycle continues...

1 comment:

  1. "It's not that I'm a savant or anything (I'm probably one of the least naturally coordinated individuals to ever walk upright, trust and believe), I'm just a firm believer that it is possible to train a body to do anything if you do it enough. Practice might not make perfect - because perfection isn't something that is ever attained in the martial arts, although we all aim for it - but it does make good karateka better."

    YES! I'm just the same. Just gotta do it again until your mal-coordinated body gets the hang of it. Then do it some more :)

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