Monday, November 9, 2015


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When you first learn something, you generally try to make the same shape(s) that your instructor makes.  You learn to put yourself in those same positions, angles, arcs, etc.

At first, this is a great way to understand something new.  You may not get from A to B gracefully, but you can "do" A and B.

But there's a point when trying to match shapes is at best unhelpful, and at worst, detrimental.

Some examples:

1,) When I play shime, because my chest is moderately broad, my arms angle in somewhat.  They are straight, but they definitely point inwards a good deal.  If someone else matches that angle because they're matching my shape but is of a smaller build, they're going to be struggling to play relaxed with their arms unnaturally held out.

2.) When I play shime, because I'm tall, I have to get lower in my stance so that I'm not having to hit too far downward for the strike.  Someone shorter, matching my height on shime might very well be standing up far too high and have to do a lot more work with (still) bad technique.

3.) When I play odaiko or naname, I often get into a very wide stance that I'm able to have due to flexibility.  Anyone trying to match that shape without the same flexibility may compromise the rest of their technique greatly, or even injure themselves.

What I recommend, after you understand those basic shapes (however long it might take), is to figure out what's on the inside of those shapes, and also figure out how to move from one shape into another.  It's the internal stuff that's difficult to figure out yet immensely valuable.  But that, dear readers, is for another post (and I do believe I've talked about it in the past).

Shapes are like training wheels.  Great at first to build basic skills, but the longer you rely on them, the harder it will be to make any progress.

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