Friday, June 20, 2008

Hara you doin'

Recently I've been thinking a lot about how connecting with hara really, really improves your karate. It's a simple thing really: move from hara and the move is effortless. For me it's happened a lot lately, mostly when I'm teaching a technique to someone else. When I'm in that situation I'm not thinking about how the move works, I just do it. I show how the technique is supposed to go and spend no time thinking about it. It's the thinking that hinders performance. When my brain gets too involved in the technique it doesn't work the way it needs to. In our style both hard and soft movements are incorporated into the self-defense techniques. Go too hard and the technique falls apart. Go too soft and the technique has no substance. Somewhere in the middle lies a technique that originates from hara. For most of my karate career this has been an elusive feeling. It is now not quite so elusive, but in trying to teach someone else how to move from hara the "mysterious" properties have resurfaced themselves. It's really not magical but completely practical. However, how do you describe to someone who has no idea how to move in a karate way how to move in a karate way using hara? It's damn difficult. The thing is, you can't put your brain into it in that way, either. You just do it.

So, have you ever incorporated plyometrics into your martial arts training? We did the other day in class. Plyometrics are very exhausting, I tell you! Today my left calf is so sore I have a slight limp (yeah, yeah, poor me, I know. Don't cry for me, baby! I do this to myself...) and going down stairs is slightly challenging. I suppose it's time to incorporate them on a regular basis. They really are a beautiful thing, and for what they give you muscle performance-wise, it's worth the initial pain. The series we did incorporated an aerobic step. We jumped onto the top from a squat position, we jumped up and over from a squat position, we jumped up and over with a turn from a squat position. This and more. Ugh, it was awesome!

Well, I'm off to lovely Lake Bomoseen this week for some rest and hopefully relaxation. I plan on doing much playing about in the water, finishing a few knitting projects (I start them and never finish because I move onto something else. Hey, I get bored!) and read many books. It will also give me a chance to visit the "mother" dojo (I really have to find the right name for that) to train and talk to Sensei Morallo about opening up my own Koro Ken dojo. Ooo, so exciting!


John Wood said...

Good luck and enjoy your well deserved rest. I know what you mean about trying to teach someone to move in a new way, especially from the center. I've been teaching a guy I work with Aikido and still haven't found a really good way to get across how to move from the center, other than demonstrating it myself. I'll be taking my shodan test soon so I guess I need to invent something soon. I feel like I should suddenly have all the answers..even though I know it won't magically happen :)

somaserious said...

I have to admit that it wasn't until after I got my shodan that all of this "stuff" began to make sense. Most of it within the last month. Having a black belt means you've mastered the basics and it's now time to delve into the meaty part. And you'll never have all the answers....good luck to you!!!