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Saturday, January 27, 2007

"MY LESSONS WITH THE MASTERS..." Ari Kandel's personal training blog. #4

My Second Tim Tuneup...

Hey all, administrative note:
Please feel free to post any questions or comments about this blog on the Guided Chaos forum. Also any special requests. Please keep them considerate though--no "Have Lt. Col. Al break your ribs and drive them into your heart and then write about how it feels." I'll be sure to check the forum every few days. Now back to the races. . . .

My second lesson with Tim was less brutal and even more educational than the first.

In the three-week period between my first and second lesson, I concentrated on eliminating the bad shoulder-raising habit he had pointed out. I also worked on minimizing movement through the use of the ideas Tim had taught me in the first lesson: maintaining the L-stance and turning the waist to absorb pressure and counterattack. A bit of online research revealed the connection between these concepts and similar ones in Tai Chi (see "fa-jing") and gave me much to think about. A private lesson with Lt. Col. Al (more about that in a later post) also helped me get a clearer idea of what Tim had taught me.

Driving to Tim's studio the second time, I did not have Patrick to lead me . . . so of course I missed a turn, had to double back, and wound up almost fifteen minutes late. I called ahead and Tim didn't seem to mind much. Hey, at least I got there!

Very soon after we began contact flow, Tim commented, "Well, your shoulders have gotten better."


The lesson continued, and I found it less scary than the first one. I took hardly any neck breaks or telling blows to the head, although the body shots proceeded at a healthy pace. I did my best to a) NOT speed up no matter what (which probably explains why I ran into far fewer shots), and b) respond to pressure by turning rather than by making inefficient arm movements.

Tim pointed out that while my shoulders were doing better, I still had little moments of tension to eliminate, and I seemed to have a habit of raising my far shoulder and elbow when turning. For example, when I would turn to the right, my right (backwards-moving) shoulder tended to rise and the right elbow would leave its relaxed position. Simply another example of habitual and useless (rather than responsive and purposeful) movement . . . and indeed, HARMFUL movement, as it got me hit or got my arm "broken" every time I did it!

This part was comical: At LEAST a half-dozen times (okay, probably closer to a full dozen) in a row, Tim gave me a little pressure that prompted me to turn to my left to let it go. Because of my rising left shoulder and other factors, every time this happened, Tim's hands (guided by my movement--all Tim was doing was applying a little pressure) ended up in perfect position to break my left arm. After at least a half-dozen (okay, probably closer to a full dozen) repetitions of this, each one of which left me dumbfounded, Tim must have concluded that I wasn't going to figure this one out for myself and proceded to explain something to me (after giving my left arm a slightly firmer final tweak, lest I forget the experience!):

Tim pointed out that I seemed to have fairly good awareness of my environment. He came to this conclusion because of my skill at avoiding knocking into the photo and lighting equipment that surrounded us in his studio, even as he backed me up and occassionally tossed me all over the room. (He did notice though that I seemed to have a problem with the vacuum cleaner in one corner. I bumped into and got tangled in this a couple times. I told him that I'm much better at avoiding what appeared to be expensive equipment, in contrast to an old vacuum--no offense to his vacuum.) He then explained that I have to be similarly aware of my whole body in relation to his whole body, not just particular parts under momentary pressure or movement. I shouldn't focus on any one limb, but use the entire body at once all the time. He showed me the consequences of having a narrow focus by drawing my attention to one place (e.g. pressure or an impending strike along one arm) and then hitting me somewhere entirely different with his other arm. This was weird--it seemed at times as if he couldn't be hitting me from the second angle based on where he was standing. He also showed me the difference between using the limbs sequentially as many people do (striking with one arm, then the other, one strike at a time) and using the whole body at once. First he attacked me sequentially, and I was able to evade most of his strikes (not that it was easy!). Then he attacked using everything at once, and . . . I have NO idea exactly what he did, but it SUCKED!!! He didn't actually hurt me, but I was immediately off-balance and immobile, being hit heavily in the torso in one direction while my body was being propelled in the opposite direction (not actually moving though). It looked as if he just stepped in. Point taken: use everything at once!
To be continued....

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