Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A Study in Blocking 3/1/2016


I started teaching back in 1978 under Charles Murray. I started my own program in September 1979 for youth. In 1985 I began an adult program. Over these years you have classes where no one shows up. Perhaps because of Holiday, or minor incontinences such as blizzards. But large or small I train whoever wants to train, even if it is I.


Last night was one of those nights. I had two adults. Devin my new black belt who trained on and off over 20 years, and Craig a new student with lots of experiences training in many arts but Isshinryu is a new experience. So a beginner, who is not a raw beginner, and a new black belt who is also a student who worked at her training for 20 years.


I focused on one of the more difficult lessons for every student. How to believe in yourself trusting what you know.


To experience it I showed a black belt interpretation of Seisan kata.s opening movement. Where your left foot steps in, you left side block then right punch. I just selected one application study (where I have something in excess of 75 for that movement).


First, against an attacker stepping forward with their right foot and striking forward with their right hand.


I simply had them begin to step forward with their left foot, while crossing their arm and the right open hand becomes a deflection against the attacker strike. Then they completed the left block against the attackers arm, while their right hand chambers, completing the technique with a right punch into their abdomen.


Seems simple.


Of course the new student has not started Seisan kata. He did understand what to do. In practice first he had difficulty doing the parry. Understanding it was on the inner zone of defense. Once he got past that, when he blocked with the left, he would keep the left arm up after the block while he punched. His mind was focusing on the attacks, and he found it most difficult to remember to perform everything.


So a good beginner. Making mistakes and working through them.


Devin on the other hand has had 20 practice (and she did practice during her inactive periods) on the move.

Even watching me do it slowly, when faced with the pressure of a slow punch, found it difficult to determine which hand to use for the parry, then for use inside our outside of the strike. She got the rest, more or less, but she too kept the blocking arm out during her punch.


Making an application work is more difficult that many understand.


It is hard to remember to just do the kata.


Then I threw another wrinkle at them The attacker now step in with the left foot and struck with the left punch.


I told them to do the same movement against that attack, and not to make changes.


When presented with a new attack, they forgot the movement they were to be using.


In quick order I was able to show them what I meant. And they were able to correct their performance. Of course the new student kept his blocking hand out there when he struck. So more explanations.


They are not bad students. Devin is quite good. It just being presented to specifically execute a movement is more difficult than it appears.



The  lesson has many more lessons unto looking at the principles in play with the movements.


1.    That a movement, unchanged, can address many types of attacks.

a.     Right, or Left attacks. Where you strike is different, but the movement is not changed.

2.    The more important thing is your belief that the movement will disrupt the attacks.

3.    Do not overlook the small details of the movement. The Parrying initial hand within the arm crossing movement shows how this motion may be addressed

4.    There are many more lessons here, but they are for another day. Some were touched upon. However there is a limit to what can be shared and retained. Else it becomes babble.

a.     Examples would be:

                                                             i.      Breathing enhancing the movement

                                                          ii.      Breathing control to assist changing the timing of the movement.

                                                       iii.      Use of the knee release within the movement for increased power.

                                                       iv.      And so forth.


The instructor must identify these issues, and assist the student to work past the flaws they evidence.



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