My Third Tim Tune-up, Part 2...
Tim started putting me in various awkward positions in contact flow, asking what I'd do. When I hit upon the most efficient and easy ways out, he'd say, "Okay, I'll buy that." Alternative solutions got me lightly struck, locked or off-balanced. Tim was critical of how quickly I moved my feet to get out of bad situations, so he had me stand against the wall so that I couldn't move back at all. As he started slowly attacking, I lost my balance a couple times, but finally got it right and managed to deflect his attack. At that point, he laughed and shook his head and said, "Good! Lesson's over, and I'll tell you why."
We pulled up chairs in the front office and proceeded to discuss a LOT. Here are some (not all--we covered a lot) highlights:
--Tim explained why he was amused by my final actions during the lesson. He said that I had ended up doing what he and John had been discussing the last time they worked out (a week or two previously). It had something to do with "bouncing" the energy Tim gave me. When he put me against the wall, I couldn't move back or out to dissipate the energy he was giving me, so my body channeled it in the only direction available: back into Tim. It has something to do with pulsing. I did not fully understand his explanation of what I had done--I must remember to ask him about it again next time. He pointed out that this phenomenon--a student's spontaneously doing something that John had discussed with Tim previously--happens often, for some reason. I suggested that there may be some weird chi floating around. . . .
--On the subject of chi, Tim showed me a small book about Cheng Man Ching (famous late Tai Chi master) that his wife had given him and that John had recently discussed with him. Tim admitted that such books usually turn him off within the first few pages, when they talk about chi and esoteric stuff to explain combative phenomena. According to Tim, it's all purely physical, having to do with subtleties of the nervous system. Then again, why name it a "nervous system"? Why is "red" red? Names are just labels people use to get on roughly the same page. "Nervous system" might as well be "chi."
--I pointed out that Tim was absolutely correct about my being distracted and preoccupied. The previous day, I'd had a business meeting and lunch with a client way out in Long Island (far from Manhattan, where I live and where my office is). The meeting and lunch went well . . . except that I got so involved in the conversation over lunch, I forgot my briefcase in the restaurant! I didn't realize I had forgotten it until I was already back in Manhattan, with no time to go get it before a dinner obligation with some of my wife's friends. Fortunately, when I called the restaurant, they said they had the briefcase and I could pick it up the next day. So, even during the lesson, in the back of my mind was the annoyance that right after the lesson, I'd have to drive out to the restaurant to pick up the briefcase. Were the directions I had accurate (I'd taken the train from Manhattan the previous day, never driven there from Yonkers)? Would I hit bad traffic? Would it take so long that it would kill the evening? How much gas and time was this costing me? Stupid--why did I even bring the briefcase into the restaurant in the first place?!? Tim pointed out that when you're troubled by something, you should 1) identify the problem, 2) identify the solution, 3) identify what you have to do, 4) identify what you're willing to do, and 5) LET IT GO. To dwell on problems and let them disrupt other areas of your life (like training!) is unhealthy and a waste of energy.
--I told him that I felt another thing that was messing me up during the first half of the lesson was that I was being too "controlled," trying too hard to do everything "right." I had been determined going into the lesson to try to "do" everything that Tim had told me to do previously (good L-stance, keeping safe arm positioning, moving body to evade and attack, shoulders low, not focus on single points, etc.). However, in TRYING to do all these things, I completely messed myself up. I was attempting to control my own movements (and therefore trying to control Tim's movements--good luck!) instead of simply allowing my body to react to whatever happened. This actually goes against the absolute basics of Guided Chaos theory, which I've written about--go figure, gotta remember my own advice! Certainly not the first time that has happened. The "control" thing was interesting though. The feeling I had midway through the lesson when Tim finally set me straight was one of "letting go" of any control over my body's motion. It felt like the weight of my arms and body, plus Tim's energy that moved them, were enough to accomplish everything, like a pendulum. I had to LET GO with the whole body, and just let the arms float and do what they will with the lightest of contact. Tim concurred with my observations about the dangers of "control." He pointed out that control was a frequent problem in training cops, which a lot of his students are. It is understandable that they have a tendency to be controlling, because of their occupation. However, it's their "control" that can get them killed!
--Work slowly, but train to cut time and distance in order to reduce the time it takes to accomplish things. Working with only one arm against your partner's two helps in this regard.
--When I mentioned that I find it difficult to keep things slow and trusting with some training partners, Tim pointed out that there's no such thing as a bad training partner. It's up to you to figure out what you can learn from each. He gave me examples of training situations from his experience that at first glance were bad or frustrating situations. However, he learned extremely important lessons from each of them by simply figuring out how to work around the problems. A couple of the skills he learned from these experiences are ones he is "infamous" for to this day. Always try to work a little slower than your training partner, to make you more efficient--accomplishing things faster at a slower speed by cutting time and distance. You may get hit more at first when you force yourself to remain slow, but the long-term benefits are worth it.
--Tim advised me to eliminate my habit of taking quick sidesteps to escape bad situations. He said there's nothing necessarily wrong with stepping, but that I tended to step with my feet faster than the pace the hands were setting. I must be sure to move my feet as slowly as my hands, lest they become uncoordinated and set up unrealistic situations in contact flow.
--Generally, most students' hands are not bad. They can use them with some skill. It's the body unity, the coordination between the hands and the feet and everything in between, that most students don't seem to get.
--Tim used a slightly off-color joke (that he learned from Bob Alexander) to make a point about learning. Sorry, can't repeat it here--the joke or the point!
It seemed like we might have gone on talking for hours had another student not come in for his lesson.
Immediately after the lesson, I felt a bit dismayed that I had "wasted" the first half of it being "not myself"--trying too hard and being too controlling. However, upon further reflection, the lesson I took away from that was very important, and I'll remember it well. I also have a LOT of new food for thought. So, great lesson!
And in case you were wondering. . . . I drove from Tim's place to the restaurant in Long Island, picked up the briefcase (contents intact), and got home without difficulty. The directions were good (Yahoo Maps--I think I like it better than MapQuest), traffic was on average reasonable, and I got home early enough to have an enjoyable evening. The day's travels, from Manhattan to Nanuet (10:15a - 1p Guided Chaos class) to Yonkers (Tim's studio) to Long Island and back to Manhattan, 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., used up less than half a tank of gas. Go 2000 Camry!
Next post will be about . . . well, you'll just have to wait and see (i.e. I have no idea yet)! Stay tuned!!!
P.S. The new Guided Chaos Slam Bags are great! Even though I have and use one of the old steel shot-filled bags, I bought one of the new tan bags on the spot. It's much better for extended workouts. You can drop on this thing full-power until the cows come home and never have your hands go numb. Highly recommended!