Monday, September 5, 2016

Kime and making mistakes

Kime, as I wrote about in a post here back in 2010, is all about the focus of intention and energy.  It comes from the Japanese verb "kimeru," which means "to decide".

In martial arts, kime is often seen as that laser-like focus on the target, whether real or imaginary.  It takes practice to hone that focus, learning when to turn it on or off and getting faster at doing just that.  Most martial arts have this aspect in their training, which comes in extremely valuable when in a situation when there is actual danger.

When sparring, there are two different forces at play, the physical and the mental.  The physical is easy to spot.  One person attacks, maybe both, there's some maneuvering, some defensive techniques, etc.  Those are very visual mechanics.  The mental aspect is not always as easy to spot, however.

A combination of techniques (say, two or three moves in sequence) is just a physical attack.  But add to that a strong force of will, a determination to impose that will on the opponent and take over their space, that's a...spiritual attack, if you will.  Not in religious terms but in the intention to disrupt or overpower the other's state of readiness or confidence.

Once aware of this second plane of attack, an observer can see when the intention of one person - the kime - has affected the other, whether on the attack or the counter-attack.  Sometimes the kime has more effect than the physical attack, especially if the other person wasn't ready or prepared in that moment.

And that brings me to why I thought about this post in the first place.  Sometimes, when two people engage in an exchange of techniques, the person who "lost" the exchange will often drop their intention, their mental guard.  It's an admission of defeat.  When that's done against a black belt, I often see the black belt (myself included) use that dropped guard as an invitation to attack yet again.  It's one thing to acknowledge defeat, but why yield to it?  That person just got defeated in the one exchange and then their reaction to that defeat then caused them to be hit yet again.

Going back to the idea of kime, think of making a mistake when you play taiko.  Think about the mistakes you've made or the kinds you're more prone to making.  How do you react?  When you mess up a solo, do you stop or freeze with your hands in some position, as your brain tries to re-orient itself?  When you play the wrong pattern, do you make a big deal of it with your facial expressions or body language?  Do you  yield to defeat?

I'm not perfect at it, but I've learned when I'm sparring and have "lost" (or even when I "win") an exchange, to stay ready, to stay focused, to even be looking for them to drop their mental or physical guards.  It's taken practice, but more than that, it takes intention.  Any one of you can have that intention, that kime when you make a mistake.  Just don't let the mistake become TWO mistakes because your reaction to it causes more attention than the mistake itself!

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