Sunday, November 4, 2018

Learning The Martial Arts

Everything in our Bujinkan training is arranged to help one grow into a complete human being & marital artist: tatsujin. Visually some things in a dojo setting make sense, others require a bit of understanding- like how techniques are demonstrated.

What is the learning process?

Usually the head instructor or a junior instructor when asked shows a technique (waza). They may mention the name of it, or give a bit of background, but there is no explanation as to what is going on, which is done for a reason.

As you watch the technique one has to quickly figure it out and be able to replicate it using correct distance, timing, and rhythm. You need to see what is going on and immediate be able to understand the situation. Naturally this is hard, especially if it is the first time seeing the waza or if it is above your rank.

This is done, in order to train in an important skill outside of a dojo setting- the innate ability to see a situation unfolding and immediately know how to control it, and be aware of the movement being used. Trained correctly, you will begin to see patterns of movement, and how “martial arts” move- it’s easy to spot other martial artists based on how they move and use distance and timing.

After watching the waza a few times, one pairs up with a training partner and works on discovering the waza- distance, timing, rhythm, what it is trying to teach, etc. While this is happening the instructor may make corrections, or demonstrate some important points in the moment, but this is your chance in training to get it.

Eventually it will cycle around to being demonstrated again, only this time pointing out what makes it work and why, and how it is effecting both our movement and your training partner’s movement.

And of course at any time if one has a question, one should ask, as many movement opportunities only arise in that moment, so we want to explore them as they dynamically happen.

Which leads to uke and tori- “attacker” and “defender”.
In learning one student performs the martial arts attack, while the other student performs the waza or counter. Switch sides and the other is the attacker/defender.

Uke- the attacker, or the one who is having the waza done to them has a VERY important role. The most obvious is that it needs to be a good solid “attack”, so tori can execute the waza correctly. But, uke is also learning about the waza in a way that tori currently cannot, until it is their turn.

An example from class this past Saturday:

Practicing a throw that makes landing correctly very difficult, the natural reaction to being thrown in this certain way is to put our your arms to break the fall, which is very bad for your arms, it is better to not put out your arms and risk breaking them. But this is the natural reaction to the throw.

When we are uke, and being thrown, we want to concentrate on the feeling of the throw and see how it wants us to take ukemi, feel and see how we want to land and how we don’t want to land.

This example of a waza within a waza is an important hidden point in the training.