Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Storm rolling in

Last weekend, I had a short time slot between other events in the late afternoon, my only chance for some outdoor practice. I could practice any of 57 forms that need work, but I opted for some Ryukyu Kobudo, since I have a test coming up soon.

The dark clouds of a storm were rolling in quickly and the smell of rain was in the air. Time only for a short stretch, then outdoors to get down to business. I focused on a form with the bo or staff, 佐久川の棍小, sakugawa no kon sho. got through several reps before the rain started, and a few more as the drops fell lightly, tentatively.

Many thanks to the weatherguy in the sky, as those few reps were what I needed most. Heavy rains after that, but I got in what I needed just in time.

I will swing a wooden bo staff about in light rain, but certainly not my metal weapons like the sai. Just a few more days before the test. Today was sunny and I had an hour open in the afternoon, just right. tomorrow looks good, then rain from tomorrow night until test time....

Monday, May 23, 2011

you shoulda seen the other guy

yeah, not a scratch on him. Total self-inflicted wound, 自爆.

We were working on bo vs. sai.

hmmmmm. test coming up for me, lots of pressure every practice, very good feeling.

But I smacked myself good.

teacher / friend T. said that until you injure yourself with a weapon, you don't really know the weapon. Well I have cleared the nunchaku (past post) and tonight cleared the sai. Which one is next?

I recovered well, switching into free-style and doing whatever worked to restrain the opponent, but still, the pictures are not pretty.

We ran through the full set of bo vs. sai and I mucked up a couple times but recovered well -- not the official form but I adjusted naturally, smacked the other guy in an unexpected but effective way. Still, tonight's performance would not pass the test.....So I was satisfied, I could adjust in different circumstances, still whack the guy, but I couldn't pull off the needed techniques to pass the test.....

Check back next week....

Sunday, May 1, 2011

more reps of smaller chunks

That’s the advice I dole out to language / communication students and trainees regularly.

If you want to work on listening comprehension in whatever language, you need to take a small bit, say 3-5 minutes or less, and repeat it several times. But most people don’t take this approach. They have an hour’s commute by train, so they listen to a one-hour CD in the target language. Or they watch a complete, two-hour movie, rather than targeting a few minutes of that movie for intensive drilling.

It is human nature, I suppose. After, movies are supposed to be fun. You put one in the machine, sit back and enjoy uninterrupted. None of this once-with-script, once-without-script stuff. No vocab review and preview.

Vocab works the same way – to really master new vocabulary, the best approach is to work through several repetitions of a small list of target words or phrases. But most people (myself included…) invest the same amount of time in going once through a longer list. Less effective / efficient, but again, human nature.

Same in martial arts. I am one of the people who tends to do reps of entire forms, even though I know it is better from a learning perspective to isolate a part of the form and do more reps.

I attend several classes with my main teacher most weeks. In a typical class, we might go through a form once or twice uninterrupted, then spend most of the class isolating small chunks for intensive scrutiny and repetition. That’s especially true with the more common competition forms like tai ji jian 32. But it might also reflect the generally lower experience level of most people in the 32-motion tai ji sword classes.

We also have a class that focuses on the tai ji sword sets of the Sha family. Sometimes we follow the pattern above. Other times, like last week, we get a surprise. We started with several reps through the 36-motion tai ji sword form. Then we ran through the two-person paired sword form – an unprecedented 11 times.

I was wondering about the very unusual class format. In part, it must be related to the generally higher level of experience (even so, many of The Venerable Tai Ji Ladies were not quite on top of the form, shall we say). But I think it may have been the instructor’s way of cementing the form, drilling it in deeply one final time before moving on to something else.

And indeed, it looks like we will be starting the long-awaited second two-person / paired tai ji sword form of the Sha family. More reports on this later as it develops.

This is so-called Golden Week in Japan, when a number of national holidays fall together closely in sequence. The lucky people are able to arrange their schedules for about ten consecutive days off work. Others among us will be working most of today, teaching Business Communication Skills (notice the capital letters? It’s a fancy way of saying Business English. Which is a fancy way of saying “teaching English”).

I’ll be working one-to-one with a guy (oops, a Salaryman) from Company K. I am sure I will give him my regular lecture on “More Reps of Smaller Chunks”. I’ll also be running through some of the Sha family tai ji sword forms this morning before work. I wonder which style I’ll follow…