Thursday, June 8, 2017

Technique - the cause or the effect?

We often see the result of a technique and want to be able to do the very same thing.  Watching someone playing a pattern really fast can be impressive, and it's tempting to just try and replicate it.  Watching someone do an acrobatic, fancy kick can be impressive, and it's tempting to jump up and try it.

But it's likely, you'll wind up getting tense amd hitting a bunch of wrong/bad notes, or pulling a muscle and falling over...

In talking with a student in the dojo earlier this week, he was saying how he needs to "hit hard".  I asked him what he meant, and he said if he was hitting someone bigger, he would need to "hit harder".  I told him if his technique was good, he could hit hard enough; he would have the ability to choose how powerful to make his strikes.  A bit later he said how he thought my jab looked like a hook so he was trying to arc his as well.  I told him it shouldn't hook, it just goes in straight.  When I thought about what he meant, I realized he was probably talking about how the elbow joint bends after snapping the punch out, because after that moment of tension, I'm relaxing the arm and it naturally bends a bit (and there's the "hook" he's seeing).

The effect that you see that impresses you is a result of good fundamentals, or at the very least a lot of practiced motion.  Either way, that person who impressed you understands how to do the thing they're doing.  You're likely to only see the impressive part, the result, unless you can step back and look at what's going on under the surface.

For a lot of fast notes on multiple drums, a person needs to be relaxed, have flexible wrists, know how to link their hands to their hara, know how to utilize their hara, and still have the presence of mind to listen for when things don't sound right so they can adjust in subtle ways.  To do a jumping spinning kick that has the potential to cause damage, a person needs to have strong leg muscles, be able to coordinate which parts of the body from head to toe to use when, and also have the ability to activate and deactivate tension in the muscles needed at the right time.  All of these steps described come with thought, training, and practice.  But they're not "sexy".  They're not what people go WOW for.  They go WOW for the result.  We all do, in some things or others.  Being able to see past the initial WOW and notice all the components needed to make it happen is a skill, and comes from both you working on fundamentals over time as well as the ability to appreciate that work in others.

A couple of other analogies I've come up with:

If I give you something you've never thrown, like a hand-axe, and tell you to hit that target over there, you can focus on the target and hope you hit it, or try to be in a steady, solid position and align your arm as best you can, your grip as best you can.  The former focuses on the result and will most likely end with an axe clattering on the ground, while the other might end the same way but with information you can use to better the next throw.

If I tell you that "Sam died," but you don't know Sam, you may very well not care.  You have no reason to care.  The result has no impact.  But if I first tell you that Sam was this person in my life and did all these things for me and then died in tragic watermelon accident, you very well might be astounded, saddened, or feel something.  You need something to enable there to be an impact in the first place.

So think about or find something that makes you take notice, maybe something that gives you a WOW.  Then look deeper.  What are they doing that enables them to wow you?  What is their body doing?  What's consistent about their technique?

When you realize that infrastructure is the way to producing amazing results, it can seriously change how you look at technique overall!

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