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Yesterday's martial arts seminar wasn't quite what I expected, but… - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
Yesterday's martial arts seminar wasn't quite what I expected, but bits of it were still good. However I now ache from head to foot as a result of spending four hours carrying a heavy sword, and spending at least one of those hours running around with the sword.

All joints now fairly comprehensively knackered with various degrees of not-bending and swelling. Which made cycling into work something of a challenge (but still better than walking, which was the other option). And I couldn't find the Ibuprofen gel this morning, which enabled me to make the timely discovery that my arms react badly to Deep Heat. *itch*

Despite all this, today I have managed to:

- Get up in time to sort out parcels to post & make lunch
- Get into work in time to make coffee before 9am meeting
- Post item to one of my eBay buyers
- Post something else I promised to send
- Actually do some bloody work for a change :)

Current Mood: neutral

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emperor From: emperor Date: July 12th, 2004 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)
wow. go you! Are you now l33t-swordsman?
j4 From: j4 Date: July 12th, 2004 07:28 am (UTC) (Link)

I can do some sword moves, but nothing terribly l33t, and the seminar certainly didn't teach me anything l33ter. It was apparently supposed to be giving us an idea of what battle was like, and I think it succeeded more than it meant to: I learnt that battle is chaotic, shambolic, pointless, utterly knackering, and results in everybody getting hurt whether by the enemy or by their own side.
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: July 12th, 2004 08:11 am (UTC) (Link)
That sounds to me like a pretty thoroughgoing success.
j4 From: j4 Date: July 12th, 2004 09:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, but apparently we were supposed to be learning about the "spirit of the battlefield" and about how we'd feel ready to die for our fellow samurai. ... I don't think I'd make a very good samurai.

The supposedly-inspirational talk that we had from the Master of the School actually made me seriously consider leaving the School altogether. Because I really, really can't go along with a lot of what he was saying; and that's even if I discount the bits that only sound impressive and inspirational if you've never had an original thought in your life, which I have less problem with -- I figure I'm just not the target audience for those bits.

(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: July 12th, 2004 11:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, all stuff about finding out whether you're prepared to die to protect the things you believe in. (Which sort of comes under the spirit-of-the-battlefield heading, I suppose.)

Can't remember it all clearly enough to put together reasonable objections to it now, which may be for the best.

Anyway, I've got a lot of good out of what I've learned with the school, and in the actual lessons there's very little talk about being a Warrior and all that rubbish (though there is quite a lot of emphasis on formal respect and self-discipline and so on, and a lot of more general philosophy, all of which I think is a good thing), it's just at the big seminars and things I think they want people to feel the spirit of whatever. Which makes me *really twitchy* because it's so horribly like the mad evangelical brainwashing that nearly wrecked my life, but that may just be my prejudices getting in the way rather than anything really wrong with what they're teaching.

*twitch*, though.
fivemack From: fivemack Date: July 12th, 2004 02:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
That reminds me very much of why I didn't join the Scouts - the bit where you're supposed to swear adherence to a list of three dozen virtuous behaviours, plus allegiance to Her Majesty, and I realised I wasn't able to live up to it and didn't want to be forsworn.
j4 From: j4 Date: July 12th, 2004 02:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

If I'd had to swear anything like that on joining, I wouldn't have joined. I don't want to "live up to" things like that, I'm not convinced that it's living "up" IYSWIM. (That is, "failing" to meet standards which you don't believe are high/good standards in the first place is not failing, IMHO.)

Fortunately, usually the martial arts stuff is more about achieving the highest levels of personal skill that you can achieve, pushing yourself to do things you didn't think you could do, etc. Which is a Good Thing in my worldview, though it's not a worldview I'd want to force on anybody else.
fivemack From: fivemack Date: July 12th, 2004 02:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I didn't do martial arts for long - my oboe teacher told me I needed exercise to get the diaphragm, and karate was the most welcoming non-team sport around. But (this was, after all, at an all-male boarding school) it felt a lot like ritualised bullying (there was one brown-belt with an amazing animus against me); and when you're practising kata lined up in rows, and confuse left and right, you get all the letting-the-side-down vibes as well as the fist to the nose.

I learned that doing the block for punches to the head when the punch is aimed at the stomach diverts the punch up to your jaw. This lesson hasn't faded, even after I gave up (moments before Terry threw me out) after chickening out from three consecutive grading possibilities.
j4 From: j4 Date: July 12th, 2004 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
That sounds horrible. And completely against all the things that our school teaches. Admittedly we mostly have one-on-one lessons, so a lot of the potential for that sort of thing is avoided; but still, there are seminars/workshops/etc. with lots of people of all grades, and the higher grades know that they have higher standards to meet -- not just of skill and endurance but of adherence to the rules of respect and discipline and so on. And I'm fairly confident that if anybody was guilty of bullying, a) it would be noticed quickly, and b) they would get thrown out in short order.

You always know that you're not expected to be as good as the higher grades, and to a first approximation there are always people who are higher grades than you. You're only expected to be as good as you can be at that stage in your development. (Which sometimes turns out to be better than you think you can be.)

And I've never been punched accidentally, and that's not because I'm particularly good at blocking or evading; it's because the teaching situations are as 'safe' as they can be while still actually learning to do the moves. 'Safe' is perhaps the wrong word -- controlled, maybe. You certainly shouldn't be in a situation where getting a move wrong while practising that move in isolation (rather than practising attack-and-defence) gets you punched!

Sunday's seminar was a roomful of people with live blades and they had to revise their plans for the seminar because more people turned up than expected -- it wouldn't have been safe to do the things they'd planned. The sword may look more dangerous but a punch can be just as lethal a weapon; I've been at seminars with 300+ people all standing in line and punching and they still take the time to make sure everybody has space to manoeuvre. Yes, you still have a responsibility to look out for yourself and others, but how can you learn to be in control of physical situations (which is what a lot of it's about) if your instructors can't begin to control the situation you're learning in?

(All IME, IMHO, etc. of course -- I now fully expect the more experienced martial artists to tell me I'm talking bollocks.)
ewx From: ewx Date: July 13th, 2004 05:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I find the coordination pretty hard (usually sorting out left and right rather than height though). I've not encountered any objectionable adults at all through karate so far (the juniors' main bug is lack of attention span though for all I know there could be the occasional private score being settled too).
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: July 12th, 2004 11:28 am (UTC) (Link)
cf battle scenes in Excalibur, the somewhat under-rated film
j4 From: j4 Date: July 12th, 2004 02:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
s/somewhat under-rated/farcically bad/

(but funny :-)
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: July 13th, 2004 09:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I must admit to a certain weakness for Gabriel Byrne's how-to-impregnate-a-woman-without-taking-off-any-of your-full-suit-of-plate-armour technique.

And it did have Helen Mirren with practically no clothes on.
arnhem From: arnhem Date: July 12th, 2004 11:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I think that's a pretty good description of many battles. Machiavelli's good on the subject (clarifying previous more imaginative histories by explaining that a "defeat famous throughout Italy" in fact only had three deaths, all due to falling off horses into the morass of mud).
dorianegray From: dorianegray Date: July 12th, 2004 08:47 am (UTC) (Link)
You need Tiger Balm. Tiger Balm is Goooooood for achy muscles (also for bruises and cramping muscles).
j4 From: j4 Date: July 12th, 2004 09:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I've tried Tiger Balm, & I have Badger Balm, which is basically the same thing, but I don't find they help very much with serious aches and pains. :-/
From: silicon_lotus Date: July 12th, 2004 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
I bet not everyone at that seminar was stiff and sore the next day.

You need to work on your warmup, and talk to your instructor about developing a more flowing and relaxed style. Jerky strikes are weak, as well as damaging to you.

Mind you, I'd admit to bias: my student days at karate were heavily influenced by earlier years in T'ai Chi - which is taught as it should be, as a martial art, in a few places outside London - and this helped me a lot. It made my karate 'stronger' than it would have been by muscular strength alone (you've seen me, you know I'm weedy) and I never walked off a competition mat with a sprain, a strain or a stretch. Some bruises, though, and no trophies.

Nowadays, a decade or so later, I practice Ki-Aikido and regularly attend all-day classes and seminars. Admittedly it's less physically punishing than Karate-do, and very much a nonagressive art, but it's still a 'full-contact' discipline. Some of the techniques were only practiced on condemned criminals in the good old days! A fact I've had cause to reflect upon, having been called as ukemi (extra opponent, required when there's an odd number of candidates or they can't pair up students from the same club) for gradings in almost every course I've attended this last year. I've come close to passing out through heat exhaustion a couple of times, but my first and only injury came on day three of this year's Spring Seminar: a stubbed toe. A record I hope to keep, as I'm up for the full two weeks of this year's Summer School.

Which is kind of a long way of saying that people who have a lot less muscle mass than you can train all day in a full-contact art and don't walk around groaning the day after.

Seriously, speak to your sensei: you can do better. Pain is a necessary part of what we do but physical damage is not, and should be regarded as evidence of failure in technique.
j4 From: j4 Date: July 12th, 2004 11:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't get aches as bad as this after karate seminars, or after sensible sword seminars where we actually work on the technique of different cuts, rather than charging around in a shambolic simulation of "battle".

What really did for me was running up and down the hall for so long. (Samurai-style running, at that.) Normally I don't run; it's a crap form of exercise, it's no fun, and it's buggering hell on the joints. I wasn't expecting to have to do it, & I didn't get a choice about it. Three hours in the car afterwards didn't help, either; muscles just seize up. (Didn't get a choice about that, either, unless I wanted to stay in Winchcombe for ever.)

And I don't particularly like being told I'm a failure for feeling achey after a long training session.
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