Saturday, January 20, 2007

Internal conflict

A few years ago, I was having problems during training with how to handle my
sparring demeanor. I received some extremely wise advice from a fellow forum member that I do not wish to lose, so I will place it here on my

"One of the major concerns I have with your situation is in the training of seated
instinct so as not to cause internal conflict.

If you have mixed feelings about any exercise, this internal conflict can
affect the overall commitment and effectiveness of your technique.

When learning something new, such feelings are normal, but when bridging the
gap from well practiced technique to practical application, any internal
conflict can case hesitation, mess up the timing, and lead to detrimental

You need to be clear in your mind what you are doing. For instance, when
instructed to bounce more on the ball of your foot when kicking... your
anology was like a jumping kick... therefore ask her if she means like
a jumping kick. She may say yes, then it is clear in your mind you and
her are talking about the same thing. On the other hand, she may come back and
say, no, it is to lift your heel more because when you kick with shoes on,
in the streets on the pavement, you have to bounce more because the friction
on the ground with shoes does not allow you to slide like on a dojo floor.

When she asks you to change targets, you can be more clear in your mind
what is the better technique for hitting that target. When going to the
ribs, one might use a 3/4 turned punch instead of a horizontal punch. Adjust your
technique to the target you are intending to hit. Then I ask, which is
more important, the target or that you actually hit the target? In other
words, don't punch to miss her. Whatever target she gives you, strike to hit
it with commitment. If she wants you to punch her shoulder, then hit it!!!
In other words, don't think you are missing the target by aiming somewhere
else... instead, make it clear in your mind of what the new target is
and hit it. Don't train yourself to miss what you are aiming at.

Avoid developing internal conflicts. Make sense? "

I responded with:

[i]"Wado.. I'm trying to understand that whole aspect of Internal conflict that
you have revealed to me. Although you explained it so clearly, I am having
difficulties capturing the concept. How do I shift from the natural hesitation that happens when given something new, to a confident "I
know this" commitment when each new partner that I get has different
strength, speed, mannerisms that I have to adjust to?" [/i]

I'd say that's a very complex question you ask.

There are many ways to have and many reasons for inner conflicts. The end
result is that inner conflicts affect your performance and can cause
hesitation and distraction.

When learning something new, one inner conflict is basically training
your body to move differently than what you are used to. That, like many
things, can be overcome with knowledge, experience, and practice (it just takes

A different type of internal conflict, on the other hand, can be caused
when philosophical views clash with what you are told to do. This is the
type of internal conflict I feel you are having and it can affect your
performance. You simply do not feel deep down that what you are doing is of benefit
to you, in fact, it seems you believe that striking off target is wrong
and only do it out of duty.

Such conflicts do not just affect your performance during exercises,
but even can cause questioning and stress afterwards... affecting how well
you sleep, how well you can focus on other things in life, etc.

How does one remove inner conflicts? Sometimes an adjustment of
attitude works, sometimes just knowing more information as to why works,
sometimes seeing the "light at the end of the tunnel" helps, and sometimes
necessity (situation) brings out emotions or something that can be used as a
driving force to do things you normally would not want to do given a choice.

In your case, SG7, as long as you KNOW that the target is not the one
you want to hit, then I suggest you question of what value the whole
exercise of striking to a different target has.

Obviously this is not realistic fighting, it is only a drill. A drill
can have realism but it is primarily for working on a set of skills. As the
attacker your skills are to develop commitment, timing, movement, speed,
power, and accuracy. You can do this striking to ANY target as long as
you strike to it with realism (visualize that it is a real fight, keep your
guard up, move in a realistic manner).

Wado quotes me:

[i]"I really appreciate the " You need to be clear in your mind what you are
doing. advice. Wow.. I didn't see the value of being on the ball of
your foot, and bouncing until you brought a different view to it for me. I
gather that the more experience I have in the arts, the more different ways
I will gain in seeing the possibilities, and I will gain also in clarity of
understanding." [/i]

I will tell you a secret, which may not really be a secret, but many if
not all "masters" make things up on the spot. So what you learn is a
combination of the old, the new, and stuff made up on the spot.

When one questions respectfully, it is only to get a better idea of why
something was done the way it was, the principles and reasons behind
something. The actual details of a technique, such as on the ball of
the foot or not, can and will change often, depending on the underlying
reasons. Nothing is really written in stone.

Sensei might tell you one thing one day, and a week later tell you to
do something that seems to contradict what was said before.

I guess what I am saying could be summarized as keep your guard up and
take all training seriously. Try to add realism to what you are doing, even
if it is no-contact or full contact, half-speed, full speed, etc. Apply
realistic intent, commitment, energy, movement, and timing.

In no contact, ACCEPT that you can be hit and knocked out, even though
for safety all strikes are controlled.

If you are the attacker in a two-person drill, do not always attack
using the same timing, same target, or same way. If you are supposed to
strike the solar plexus and the other is supposed to block, then maybe 75% of the
time aim to hit the mark, but at other times aim for 4 inches lower or
higher. Attack full speed, and at other times start full speed and finish at
75% speed, and other times start 75% speed and then finish full speed. See
if the defender can make the adjustments.

Of course beginners will not usually make the adjustments so attacking
to one target and with one speed might be appropriate, but at higher belt
levels, I say, almost anything goes.

I hope I clarified it some from my humble experience.

- Take care,

[i]OH YES! and I appreciate your words. I'm going to keep them in my
karate journal to remind me of what I need to focus on as I walk the
path. Thank you, Wado. [/i]

My promise is now kept, Wado.. Thank you. I hope that those who read
my weblog get as much out of your words as I did, and still do.


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