Friday, September 14, 2007

Do you keep secrets?

Martial arts have traditionally been a very secretive affair. The keys of a system seen as a matter of life and death, many secrets were only transmitted to a small handful of students. Many schools have "inner students" who are trusted with key components of the art deemed too deadly or secret for average students. Some arts, at a certain degree begin to teach a completely different style of movements.
sorry, the real secrets are behind this door.
Imagine, working for 20-30 years, only to have your instructor tell you that you'd been putting your life in the hands of ineffective techniques and methods, and that you would now start "really learning." Wouldn't you be angry?

My instructor was very good about sharing his knowledge with us. He may not have always told us how to do something, but he would give us pieces and sit back to watch us figure out how to put it together in our own way. More often than not, the results were off the mark. But throughout that time, I was able to really learn something in depth about how I was supposed to me moving rather than if I'd spent time just making it look good.

Take, for example, low block. In class, when I demonstrate and teach low block, it has a very different feel than when I perform it at full speed. Why? Because I'm using low block to teach key concepts: hip rotation, circular versus linear movement, weight transfer, relaxation/tension, reaction hand, etc. The result is a big, slow low block.

What if, instead, I started from day one trying to teach my students this smaller, compact version of low block? Would it come out the same over time, or would my students be missing something?

Is it the difference between creating an aesthetically pleasing movement and adding the substance later versus the opposite? I'm not sure.

What's so special about my low block, you may ask? Can't tell, it's a secret. :)
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