Monday, October 10, 2011

From the center.

Let's take a look at your hara, shall we?

Moving from your center, or hara, is at the core of nearly every martial art, and once it becomes second nature to tap into it, nearly every technique you execute becomes stronger and easier. It's also something I see a lot of players struggle with, either because their group doesn't talk about it or they haven't had the opportunity to really incorporate it into their playing.

Think about your body as a unit. If you just play with your arms and keep the rest of your body still, you're using a lot of energy to maintain tension when you could be using it to strike. Your legs should be used to keep you grounded but not rooted, so that your center has a base to move from. Every move you make should come from your hara, which should then flow out into your limbs. It's a difficult concept that only gets easier with time.

As we ramp up for our annual concert, I've been thinking about technique, especially odaiko technique. I've gotten a couple of comments about how I strike odaiko, that I use my wrists to do most of the work and how I don't use my hara (my center) enough. They're pretty tied together, actually.

I've gotten my striking technique to the point where I'm able to have my hands play pretty much any pattern I can think of, which is great! What I'm realizing though, is that I'm not utilizing my hara as much as I could because of it. Hmm.

It's interesting, because I've always said don't take things for granted and once something gets comfortable, you need to re-examine it and make it better. I knew I was re-examining my striking technique, but only from one angle. I wonder how many other areas I neglect my hara in while playing, simply because I get most of my technique through my wrists? Wrists make for great snap, but when it counts, it's all about the hara.

How much are you aware of your center? How much do you inhibit it? What happens when you don't?

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