Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Present State of Training

Well, I'm still alive. I returned to Hawaii a week ago after an extended stay away from the island. With far more free time now, I find myself contemplating the state of my training over the past 8 months while I was gone. While I did train fairly consistently (I like to think I kept my priorities in order), the level of concentration and focus on refining was not what it should have been for various reasons, some of which have merit, but I suppose they ultimately become just excuses when viewed objectively.

Sensei and I were talking story after practice when he made the comment that I had "gone off on a few tangents", referring to several bad habits I picked up since he last saw me. Then he made a fairly insightful comment for me, remarking that at this stage of development, most of us tend to execute the kata using kimochi, or feeling, so if our execution is wrong, then our feeling of how the technique is executed must also be wrong.

Some of this incorrect execution probably stems from "getting away with it" in the past; in other words, I might have been performing those movements somewhat correctly on the surface, but bad habits emerged because I did not truly internalize proper execution and feeling. This calls to mind the ever apt phrase, "You must consciously develop good habits or you will unconsciously develop bad ones" I hear so often in the dojo. Getting locked in a comfort zone will make it all too easy to turn what used to be an occasional mistake into a bad habit. At this stage, you start to actively try and achieve a certain feeling when executing a movement, but that feeling is your body telling you NOT to do it like that...

While unfortunate they happened in the first place, these tangents provide context for me as I concentrate on my corrections and more importantly, what I should be doing rather than merely trying to avoid mistakes. If anything, I am far more conscious of those movements on which I have had corrections made. At this time, I can't help but recall Snaggy's warnings in the past against relying solely on feeling without understanding the technical side. He has always told me that there must be absolute concentration on proper execution before one can rely on feeling. As always, the fine balance between "learning karate with your body" and staying cognizant of what you're actually doing by staying in the moment is essential. Gravitate to one extreme with a slack mind and your techniques will be sloppy and ineffective; gravitate to the other with a constricted mind and you become far too rigid and can't apply techniques in a practical manner.

As usual in the end, whether you can execute correctly from the beginning or have to make mistakes first and have them corrected, you have to train first.