by David Gimberline
Someone wrote to me with the problem that he was slowing down before the end of the technique. This was my response:
I have had this problem at various times in my career and seen it many times in other students.
You are fortunate IMO that you have a good, quick start, as that is a much more difficult and time-consuming ‘fix’.
If you are slowing down before the end of the technique, I can think of only two basic reasons: 1) You focusing too soon, very common in strong, muscular people; or 2) you are unsure of the ending structural position and/or which muscles to utilize and in what order to create a proper focus.
I suspect your problem is the first, because you said “I am technically sound with all points [a pretty bold assertion, actually, because what you think is sound for your level may not be sound, i.e. refined enough, for the next level ] so it’s a matter of finding a way to avoid this ugly habit without sacrificing that soundness.” I would like to briefly address both issues though.
#1) Focusing too soon is common, as I said, and it’s relatively easy to fix, but it will feel silly at first. My premise here is that strong people ‘know’ they have to be strong at the point of impact and in anticipation of the impact, they tighten too soon (especially the upper body), slowing the technique for the last third of the motion. The maddening thing is, the harder you try, the worse it gets (this actually helps to identify the problem). To fix it, you must perform the technique with no power at all, and focus AFTER you have completed the motion. It will seem ridiculous at first, and it may be a bit of an over correction, but my experience says it tends to balance out in a week or so. So, for a week, or at least a couple days, perform a technique with no intention of focusing, just some speed and good form, and, after you finish, tighten sequentially; center and legs first, along with the drawing arm, and the technique arm last, if at all.
It seems very strange, but the sensation is that you get more power from trying less. If this works, and then seems to go away, you’ll have to keep coming back to it, until it replaces your current inclination. Thin and quick people may have no clue as to why this is a problem for you.
#2) This structural and or sequential kime problem may be related to the first. In fact, if you have the first it could cause the second. Here the problem may be structural, like position, or lacking in proper muscular support. If your end position is in some way unsound, even minimally so, or if your body is not sure of the position, your body might be protecting itself from injury. It avoids being thrown into a potentially damaging position and hits the breaks to save your knees, or back, or shoulder, whatever. If it’s not structural from your and or another’s analysis (it’s always tough to know what you look like), it might be muscularly unsound.
Many people tense into what results in a static position, which jars different parts of the body. To me a focus has a “settling” feeling, and continues to flow into the ground and into the target, rather than a true ‘end’ of the technique.
A way to test this is to perform a technique, like say a counter punch or oistuki with maximum kime. Hold the position for a second (a real second) and then relax. If you “settle” on the relaxation; air comes out of your lungs, your should settle down into a relaxed position. etc, then you are “tensing” and not focusing. A focus should pull your body together. Try it at this same end position. Squeeze your center, settle through your legs into the floor, grab with your toes, let air out of your lungs, pull your drawing arm (but not really the drawing shoulder, the pects should be tightening on both sides, so your shoulder remains relatively stable) (at the end, even though you may have spun to get there, both hips and both shoulders are going forward, along with your center, and meet at an imaginary point a few feet in front of you.). Relaxing from this kime, air should come IN to your lungs (without you trying to inhale) and your shoulders lift to their natural position (they were compressed towards center) and you should feel lighter on you feet.
Another common problem when learning to focus is people tighten the small muscles around the joints. You usually notice this as small cramps around the hip joint or pain in the back, but many go on joyfully squeezing in spite of these indications it may not be a good idea (sometimes looks like over tuck of the hip). If you can learn to focus the ‘center’ the joints themselves actually stay pretty soft and pliable. This is for any stance, especially when punching in kibadache people tighten this area incorrectly.
Honest, the big muscles squeeze, (center, legs, etc) and sometimes feel like they wrap around the bone, but the kime kinda flows throw the joints. Do not tense them. Not the hips, not the knees, not the ankles, and eventually, not the shoulder or the elbow.
To fix this, just make sure to keep practicing the end positions over and over, kime slowly and completely, then release completely (failure to release is part of the initiation slowness). Eventually to go with speed, you don’t initiate the technique and move towards kime, you just remember the kime position and assume it. If the motion is slow enough for you to perceive, (like most people’s oistuki) it is too slow to be of any value. Snap into the end position, and pretend the middle doesn’t exist.
A final, closely related problem might be AIR. You may be taking too big of a breath, which takes time and slows you down (extremely common in oistuki) or, you may be holding your breath, which is ultimately a type of too much or misplaced tension (could be mental apprehension). You gotta breath, but not too much 8~D
Ok, It’s late. I’m going to sleep.
If anybody read this and they have an opinion, please share it either publicly or e-mail me private.
Dave in Minnesota