Recently had a private lesson with Tim, and one with Al.
From the lesson with Tim:
Frankly, I'm not sure what to say about this. It was a very interesting lesson, and I KNOW I learned something important subconsciously, but I'm not consciously sure what it was. I know there was SOMETHING, however, because when I worked with Al shortly after the lesson with Tim, things were definitely different--in a good way for me! It may have something to do with something Gary Abatelli has discussed with me in the past, regarding an attitude of "not caring." Maybe I'll figure out exactly what happened someday. . . . Then again, maybe it would be best if I NEVER consciously figure it out!
From a later lesson with Al:
Hit him with your skeleton.
I'd heard this before, but when Al brought it up in the middle of what we were working on, it took on a new meaning for me in the context of being looser and more fluid with my hitting. Simply by visualizing that I was just a skeleton, and I was just guiding my bones in to hit, I was able to get rid of some excess muscle that was hindering my hitting power and fluidity. Cool stuff!
Ride the vortex.
This idea is explained briefly in the book, but this was the first time I'd had the details pointed out to me in action. Al maintained very light contact on the outsides of my arms, allowing them to slip past him and positioning his body to always be out of the way without giving any pressure. To minimize the distance he had to move, he used lots of very light tool replacement. It almost looked like he was "polishing my sphere." However, every time he let something pass or tool replaced (actually, every time he moved his body into a superior position), he was able to penetrate in and begin hitting, contouring very lightly along my body, yet still moving along the outside of the "vortex" with his own body (even when very close) to avoid being in a position where I could penetrate him. When he let me experiment with this idea, I realized that it was an excellent way for me to work on cutting down my own vulnerability while being as ghostly as possible, which is something that I've struggled with. In the past, I've often found myself leaving myself too vulnerable when trying to be ghostly and unreadable, such that my training partner was able to hit me--even if he couldn't feel me at the moment. Not very useful! I'll have to play with Riding the Vortex, as it may present a solution to this problem.