2017 Mar 04 : The Order of Learning Movements
In general, if you are trying to _learn a new movement_ or trying to _correct an incorrect movement_, the process to use is the same:
1. Start by VISUALIZING the movement that you want to do.
- Visualize the range and shape of the movement.
- Visualize the rhythm of the movement, from start to finish.
- Visualize the feeling of the movement, in varying tempos from very slowly to very fast.
2. Make a RELAXED, NATURAL FEELING in your entire body.
- Release tension. Relax. Start by doing everything with a soft feeling.
- Make an upright posture, but without any feeling of strain. If your posture is less than perfectly upright, that's okay. It is more important to feel natural than to be absolutely 'straight'. Just make your posture as upright as possible without straining. It's more realistic for us to improve our posture slowly over time.
- Find your center of gravity and pay attention to it. Always be balanced over your feet and hips.
- Be grounded.
3. Make your movements mechanically EFFICIENT. (a.k.a. "good form")
- Make the shape of the movements as correct as possible.
- Practice the movements slowly and smoothly.
- Check the alignment of your body parts, and also the alignment of your entire body as a whole.
4. Be COORDINATED.
- If the movements you're practicing are not coordinated or don't feel 'easy' to do, please slow down the tempo. Slowly increase the tempo of your movements only when it everything feels 'easy' and mirrors your visualizations. It may take a while to reach your goals - take your time and don't take any short cuts.
5. Make it POWERFUL.
- Add speed gradually. If any of the other elements suffer when increasing speed, decrease the tempo of your practice. Please be patient.
- Add strength gradually. This step comes last and should never displace speed or any of the other elements.
In general, the above process of learning movements is foundational - that is, each successive step requires the solid foundation provided by doing all of the elements that came before it. For example, if you are working on your coordination (#4) for a certain motion, you should already be able to easily visualize it (#1), be relaxed (#2), and efficient (#3). Trying to work on coordination without any one of the previous elements in place will not only be frustrating, there's a high possibility that you will develop bad habits.
The point of all of this is to be able to do all of our kendo movements in a way that feels natural. Our physical movements should be a good match for our bodies but also influence our emotions, energies, and even our thoughts. If practice carefully we will be able to have power in our movements, avoid unwanted stress to our bodies, and express ourselves in an authentic way.
< end >