Monday, September 22, 2014

Those fundamentals...

It's fun to learn new things.  A new song, a new form, a new style, new instrument, you name it, it can be fun! Even things that aren't new can be a lot of fun, like playing a song, soloing to a fun ji, sparring, practicing an advanced kata, etc.

But with all of those things, don't neglect the things that make doing those possible: the fundamentals!

When I'm at the dojo and see someone trying a technique that's too difficult for them, sometimes I'm able to tell them what they're doing wrong.  Most of the time it goes back to a weak stance, bad alignment/posture, or the inability to coordinate sequential body movements.  The same issue often happens when they're working on a kata and plowing through the sequence to try and make it "strong".  Without those fundamentals, the strength will always be lacking.  Inversely, however, with better fundamentals, that form (and every other form) will be stronger.

This is very akin to playing songs in taiko without the fundamentals.  It's not as much fun to work on posture as it is to play that cool song with the bachi twirling.  It's such a chore working on getting a good wrist snap compared to being able to solo on multiple drums.  And who wants to worry about making your strike more efficient when you can work on playing more notes in a short amount of time?

I hope you saw that those were facetious statements, but let me answer them anyways:
  • Without good posture, you can twirl and spin and flip bachi but you'll never be as relaxed, which means you're already handicapped.
  • Without a good wrist snap that comes without thinking, switching from drum to drum will take more effort and cause more tension.
  • Without an efficient strike, you are essentially choking off the amount of notes you will ever be able to play.
Seeing my point?

No, it's not "sexy" to work on the fundamentals.  It can also be a real kick in the ego to re-examine things that you know you need to work on.  Still, remember that fundamentals work NEVER stops paying off.  The more you continue to reinforce the foundation, the more you can build on it!  But if you're focusing more on growth, playing new things, learning new things, then you may have a very shaky structure underneath you that just gets more wobbly as you add things on top...

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