Thursday, September 22, 2011

Drill: Beyond tired

You can stretch and warm up before practicing, but to truly know your body, you have to know it when it's tired.

Past your perfect kata, past your piercing ki, past your second wind...that's where you find out what lessons you've really absorbed. That's when you start having to use your body - especially your hara - if you want to keep playing.

It's somewhat of a two-part experience. First you have to get to that point and then you'll find out how long you can last. I suggest getting there gradually, not within two minutes of playing but by however long it takes. Once you feel the urge to back off because it's getting "hard", that's when you want to keep pushing.

On occasion I'll go into the studio and spend an hour just to push my limits. 15 minutes on katsugi okedo, 15 minutes on assorted drums (trap-set style), 15 minutes on a Yodan Uchi-style set up, and 15 minutes on odaiko. Every time I'm finished, I'm beat. Really truly beat. But there's a satisfaction in that exhaustion, knowing I pushed harder than I did the last time and knowing that if I have to push that hard in a performance, I can still go strong.

Sometimes it's really best to do this alone, simply because it's going to reveal a very personal side of yourself. It's humbling and it can make you feel vulnerable, but it's also a chance to feel growth through physical exertion. Some people do this through running, but if you can do it through what you're already trying to get better at, why not go that route?

I realize not everyone has the chance to go into their studio by themselves, or even have a studio to go to. The alternative then is during practice, to not hold back, to not take it as a "practice" but to treat it like the last performance you'll ever have. You want to go out with a bang, right? You just might have a lot of bang down the line...

Pacing ourselves helps keep us playing for the long term. However, to know what you're truly capable of and to reveal the true performer underneath the surface, push yourself!

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