Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Just loving the freedom

There is something to be said in support of cross training. I do not regret the years I spent trying to injest, understand, and survive training in two Martial Arts at one time. I sure did develop a broader perspective on how various movements could be utilized, and also, I gained a deep respect for the positives that are inherent in all of the various martial arts. I also realized that there is no way that I could learn all of the styles adequately, and that sooner or later I would have to narrow my path down to one art.

I'm finding that focusing on one direction has helped my efforts in training immensely. Oh.. there's nothing wrong with dabbling, and appreciating other Arts, but honestly, if one wants to GET somewhere with the energy that they are expending in their training, focusing in one direction is really good for the mind, body, and soul ( Don't forget finances!)

Yes, I appreciate that I was able to achieve the rank of Shodan in Shotokan karate. I value the lessons that I've learned from that art. However, as time lengthens more and more away from training in Shotokan, I'm noticing how my joints are not complaining in pain anymore. I do not feel the screams and cries of my knees, and hips after training. It used to be that 1 1/2 hour of Shotokan training would make it so hard for me to move properly for the next 6 hours as my knees would swell up, or my shoulders would feel sharp pains. I can now train for over 5 hours in Kyokushin. I get tired.. very tired.. ready to lie down, and stare blankly at the ceiling exhausted, but my joints still feel fine after the session. Yes, I get bruises, and "ouchies", but they heal within a few days, and all is back to normal.

Are my stances of any less quality? Nope. I get down in them as usual. The big difference, I have found, is the lack of "surging/ stopping" in Kyokushin. In Shotokan, I would spend so much energy shifting forwards, and backwards as fast as possible. The pain happened in the sudden starts, and stops.. not in the speed. I had to send my body as fast as possible forwards, and use even more power to STOP the forward momentum, and use control. In Kyokushin, it feels like we go forwards, and through the target, so the momentum doesn't stop at the joints.. it continues. The pain only happens when you hit improperly, so you quickly learn where, and how to position your limb for the least amount of pain to happen.

I've heard of other people discussing how they have noticed a positive effect from choosing another art over Shotokan such as Goju Ryu, Tai chi, etc. I do know that the Shotokai Karate style ( which also comes directly from Sensei Gichin Funakoshi) insist that the harsh stopping/ starting was never part of Sensei Funakoshi's instructions. Their philosophy is to move smoothly at all times. They do not even Kiai with any of their techniques as they feel that all should flow softly. Looking at how my body has improved through the past months, I cannot help but wonder.. just wonder.


[Mat] said...

Alas comes the realization...

I quit shotokan and my body says thanks.

Some are feeling very well in that art. Good for them.

You put it very nicely. That pressure has to go somewhere, like the water in the bottle. If that movement is not transmitted, it's the bottle that takes the hit.

Stop and go. I feel like Bassai is such a release in that sense. Finally, we have a kata that flows. I'm beginning to LIKE that kata. Yet, the transitions are really hard to get, for now.

Cheers for your body!!

Sarah said...

I'm glad you've found a style that works with your body and does not hurt it. I think it would be fascinating to train in another martial arts - at least to get some perspective - but it would have to be one that is brutally different. I have changed styles three times, but there was not too much difference between them - it makes it all the more confusing. I started with Shorin-Ryu karate, Okinawan, of course - and then switched to Shotokan about a year and a half ago. There ARE a LOT of differences between Okinawan and Japanese karate, but they are similar enough that I am STILL trying to fix things that were ingrained into my mind while studying Shorin-ryu. I stayed with Shotokan for about six months and then had to move again and found a ShotoJukuKai dojo - essentially Shotokan, but there are key differences between it and standard Shotokan. I don't like changing so much, and I hope I can stay here... forever, though, likely, I'll have to move again.... and again.... I'm tired of starting over and having more and more things to fix and change to a different style. Oh - yeah - I HAD a point. What I was saying was that training in something else - to learn something new - sounds very interesting - IF it were something completely different, such as adding KungFu or Aikido training just to get a broader prospective - but this switching between very similar styles has been very hard. And, as a focus, I intend to stay here. I do believe you have to focus on one - you can't really get anywhere if your energy and thought are divided.
You mentioned pain in Shotokan, and I have to say it's something I've never really thought about. I'm young :) so it hasn't been much a concern of mine - though I have been having pain that runs from my shin to my ankle since I began Shotokan, that I don't know where it comes from - but I assume I'm in incorrect stance and don't realize it. But it's interesting that you mentioned about starting and stopping with force. I definitely want to think about that one. Do other styles not move in quite the same way? Well, duh, but I assumed, naively, that karate in general is hard, fast, and direct. Perhaps (likely) I'm wrong. I know that most, if not all, of the Yudanshas have serious knee problems, among other things - but I think that probably would come with any style, training intensely over years - the body begins to wear down. But I'm going to think about this one. Interesting thoughts you brought up!