Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 50 - Getting Up to Speed

I am training (physically) on a daily basis (no excuses!!), and have begun 'palm' training once again, from the very beginning.

(I have decided to go back to 'square one' and go over everything with a fine-toothed comb to make sure that everything is as precise and as expertly done as is possible. I think it is a good practice to do this with most things from time to time... I often surprise myself at how much I think I know.. only to find out that facts have 'migrated' and things have slowly changed, gotten sloppy, or simply transformed into something other than what they should be.... so...

It is my plan to increase the difficulty of my training each week... by manipulating intensity, repetition, difficulty, or body position... while trying to keep the relative length of time more or less the same (Time is a resource, and I cannot stretch it... so I have to find skillful ways of working around that limitation...).

I think that the wisest way for me to proceed is to determine what is really the essence of my own personal martial arts practice or style... and what is not... meaning that, at the age of 50, it is not likely that I will see much progress in developing new skills, particularly in the realm of those skills requiring much more advanced levels of flexibility or agility than what I already possess. This is not to say that I cannot enhance my flexibility, my speed, my agility, and other attributes.. only that measurable change will most likely be slow, and not all that perceptible at this stage of the game. So, I must practice those skills that are most likely to be practical for me in the years to come, and spend less time on those which are not... or make a decision to set them aside.

Since time, as I have mentioned, is a resource, and one that is not controllable... it is best to use it wisely. So, my thought is to find those skills that I already have a relatively high-degree of skill in; and work the attributes needed for mastery of those skills to the point of being 'magical' - by which I mean that the vast majority of people would not believe such a skill level probable or even possible. Naturally, this is easier said than done... and will take an extraordinary amount of effort on my part.

My martial art is not 'artful' or 'elegant' to look at... it isn't particularly nice-looking... and, from a third person's perspective, to be honest, it doesn't really look as though I am doing very much... at least from what others have said to me. However, a person who plays with me often remarks on my ability to 'root' to the ground.. my power-generation skills (this is not the same as muscle strength... it is similar to the strength of a chair or other wedge-like prop set against a door to keep it from being opened possesses.) This type of power comes from fine-tuned body structure, a knowledge of angles... and superbly conditioned body-core muscles, tissues, and fascia (sitting here today... I can no longer claim to have such finely tuned core musculature... but, I am working on it and expect to see some amazing and measurable difference over the coming year or so.) As I have said.. I know that my martial abilities are not pleasing to look at.. but, I like to think that they have their uses for me. At the very least, it is a pleasing and interesting way for me to remain fit, agile, strong and flexible... or at least that is my hope.

The other abilities that intend to focus on are an ability to move my body from 'point A' to 'point b' with astonishing quickness... (this is partly physical.. and partly about knowing when and how to time the actual movement... and the inherent lack of 'lag time' which is a benefit of years of such training.... 'listening skills' - also known as 'contact sensitivity' - which is a specialty of my martial art; we learn to become extremely sensitive to contact pressure, and respond almost without thought. I have to fine tune this skill.. which may be problematic since I train alone... however, I will do the best that I can under the circumstances... timing and knowledge of anatomy are other skills that can be used to advantage, and, lastly, speed... speed is not simply speed, you see.. there is actual physical speed - the ability to physically move a limb or limbs from one point in space to another... there is mental speed.. the ability to perceive a stimulus, decide what to do, and put some plan into action... and there is what I will call 'perceived' speed... which is how one's movements appear to the opponent - and, believe it or not, this can be manipulated and used. This skill is primarily gained through knowledge, timing, and experience.. a facility with footwork, understanding of breathing, and the rhythm of body movements... how to use half and quarter beats to one's advantage, etc. - this last will be a trick to train alone also.. but, I have to work with the hand that I am dealt. My first goal is to get my body structure toned, tuned, and tight... everything else will fall into place afterward...

My Zen practice is strong and improving... and my general outlook.. my 'kibun' (mood, spirit, demeanor, etc.) is good. I am strong, becoming once more tenacious and tough-minded, and hope to see some fantastic improvement during the next few weeks and months.

I want to build a 'Gwon Go' (Makiwara in Japanese) which is a striking post... and I have a 'speed ball' that must be re-inflated and mounted for training. I need to come up with some method of training my hand and forearm strength (for gripping), and I am tossing around an idea of a stretching rope along the edge of my training surface so that I have something to hold onto when trying to increase my flexibility.. but, perhaps that is something that will just become extraneous once my flexibility improves... I will hold off on that for now.

I am pleasantly tired, my hands hurt .. but in a 'good' way (it isn't the heat.. its the humidity! HA!), and I must be getting ready to go to work.

Things are going as planned.. with the only sticking point being that I am still digging in my heels and claws at the thought of naming this conglomeration that I practice, and calling it a 'system' or 'style' - it just doesn't seem to be something that I am skillful or knowledgeable enough to do... it is much, much bigger than I am... however, my preceptor will have none of it... and I have been told in no uncertain terms that nobody ever feels ready or skillful enough, or knowledgeable enough.. in fact, I was reminded that the Buddha himself did not feel comfortable with teaching what he had awakened to for much the same reasons....

This doesn't really help me at all. I still feel like a great big fraud even considering it... so... I am dragging my feet... stalling.. and finding stupid excuses to shift my attention to other things. They haven't set a time limit on me so far to submit a topic... though I feel as though I have been neatly boxed in and more or less fed the topic that I should choose...

Someone suggested to me last night that no matter what topic would have made me most uncomfortable, that is most likely what they would have tried to urge me to do my thesis on... so, perhaps there is something to that... and the exercise isn't at all about the topic, but about my own pre-conceived notions and opinions surrounding that topic.

Somehow, knowing that, or considering that intellectually isn't doing a bloody thing to melt the ball of ice in my guts when I actually consider submitting such a paper to my teachers... I just hate this.

I will have to face it and just do it. But, not today. Today I must go to work.

.. with palms joined.

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