Monday, November 24, 2014

Control Through Feints

An excellent study of the feints of Bruce Lee:

And notice how his roundhouse comes from beyond the periphery of the opponent is his doing face time with Lee…  Lee steps in too close normally, but he has the roundhouse already in play…


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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Bringing the Lake to the Mats

We are again at the point when the temperature of air and water are 10 degrees apart.  Instead 68 degree water and 78 degree air, we are at 58 degree water and 48 degree air.  The air has dropped 30 degrees, the water ten.

I want to nuance this idea of "bringing the lake to the practice" that is the experience of cold water swimming, such as it is, to inform the experience of practicing aikido.  I've spoken about the role of adrenalin in the practice of aikido.  It takes time to get to that point on the mats, and when it is there, the herculean powers must be noticed and controlled to keep the practice within bounds, and power trimmed for appropriate response.

This practice is hard to achieve, but necessary for acting in the real world, when using aikido as a martial art, when on the street and experiencing "game on."  The super powers that conflict precipitates must be already well under control, so you execute a well-timed ten-kan and not spin wildly into a face-plant.

The dive into the 58 degree water brings on the self-defense adrenalin immediately, with the entire body in response to the existential threat of water too cold to be acceptable to a system that is a tribute to a billion years of evolution, or more likely, designed by a God who loves us.  Either way, adrenalin presents.  The act of swimming is not optional, and discipline in movement is clearly advantageous in this situation.  As the body signals fight or flight to the brain, and the powder monkeys haul out adrenalin and the stack it where most handy, the spirit says "quiet down, I've got this."

That's what is going on, and it brings a small improvement to the practice.  To what degree the improvement manifests doesn't really matter, we can all use any improvement we can get.

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Misogi & Training

Misogi training is no doubt grounded in a spiritual exercise, but I've come to it simply through sports.  I began swimming in Lake Washington every day last summer, and have not quit.  The Lake water temperature is now in the 50s, the air temp is dipping into the 40s, but, obviously the air temp does not matter.  I am not dealing with air temperature, a lesson in economy of motion.  Don't respond to what is not fighting you.

I am no longer diving straight in since the lake is giving me a tiny popsicle headache at the base of my skull, so I step down the ladder off the dock plow backwards into the lake, adjust my body to the water and then let my head go under water.  Then comes the headache until I warm up in the water.

My guess is misogi training informs aikido in practice. My aikido is to a degree becoming an extension of swimming in Lake Washington.  I practiced in SF last Friday night, a brown belt was trying to resist the visitor in the techniques (I love practicing with brown belts the most, they don't hold back! And they know how to fall...) I gave him the experience of diving into cold water.  Hard to explain how that is, but I brought it to the technique, and he had the look I feel after I am swimming.  Curious, fun, scary, ouch, safe enough...

Watched a movie in which a woman in Ireland went swimming...  must have been 40 degree waters...  but it was unremarkable...  yes it is what you are used to...  Indians in Seattle were mostly naked when the Yeslers and Dennys showed up....  it is what you are used to...  (mostly...)  so this swimming in the lake is no big deal.  And I am not sure how low I can go.

But it is surprising how little it takes to pick up a new edge.

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