The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Sunday, November 06, 2016

The Secret to Martial Arts Excellence

Beer.

I was pretty sure that that was the answer and now I am convinced. Below is an excerpt from a very good post at Green Leaves Forest. The full post may be read here. Have a beer and enjoy.


Aren’t you all forgetting one of the most important training aspects to kyudo???

BEER!

Seriously, it has to do with being able to do our best in tournaments and tests, or anytime really. So in order to you to fully realize your potential, drink beer.

What it really has to do with is heijoushin, which can be roughly translated as “a relaxed and balanced state.” When we go to tests or competitions or shoot in front of everybody else we may get tense and nervous, and this can negatively affect our shooting. In order to not let this tension and nervousness get in the way of our shooting, we cultivate heijoushin so that we can always do our best performance no matter the conditions.

Heijoushin is a state of mind, but it’s not something that you can just read about and say, “OK I’m entering my heijoushin state now and I’m relaxed.”

Heijoushin grows from the body.

It’s funny, when I first went to tournaments I was so out of my head I couldn’t do anything. So I learned to chill my mind, but my shoulders started to get all this nervous tension and got stuck, ruining my technique. So I learned to relax my shoulders and my stomach started going crazy sending me running to the bathroom whenever I started to get near the dojo. I’ve learned to mainly conquer my stomach, and now my knees will shake. Just yesterday at an enteki (60 meter target) tournament I was all ready to go and chilled out but my left knee started shaking, then my right. I tried to make them stop but doing so made me grip the bow and string with my hands putting immense pressure in them, which kept me from shooting my best arrows. It’s like my nervous tension is slowly draining through me from head to toe. I wonder what will happen when it finally gets into my feet?

So, point is, a relaxed state is born from a relaxed and healthy body. And what do bodies listen to a lot more to than just your cerebral thoughts?

A routine.

The secret to the relaxed state of heijoushin is a routine.

This was huge in preparation for my last test. I wanted to practice as much as possible in the exact same manner as I would when taking the test.

This meant for a week before the test I:

-Practiced only in my kimono

-Did only the zassha sitting form when shooting

-I don’t think I shot more than 12 arrows in a day

-Put giriko on my kake and hand before every round

-Didn’t go to the makiwara before my first shots

-Sat in a chair for about 5 minutes before every round

-Practiced at the same time as when the test would take place

-Did zassha sitting form with others as much as possible

-Drank coffee before sitting

AND!

-Drink beer the night before.

Why?

Because this is what it will be like during the test.

If my body can get used to this routine like it’s completely natural, then my body will perform naturally, and I can shoot my best arrow.

8 comments:

Kai Morgan said...

Really interesting - thanks for sharing Rick as I probably wouldn't have seen the original post. I've heard people say, in a martial arts training context, that if you throw a drunken man out of a moving cart he will be fine, because his body is so relaxed. Whereas a "normal" sober person would probably freeze up and be injured. I don't actually know if this is true having never tried throwing anyone out of a cart ;-) but I take it in the spirit it's meant - as an analogy to illustrate the importance of being relaxed, as this article says. I'd never heard of heijoushin but it's a useful word to know . . .

Rick Matz said...

Ok, maybe, just maybe, beer isn't the key ingredient but it can't hurt.

Kai Morgan said...

maybe, who knows . . . :-)

Compass Architect said...

This is a well-thought post

"If my body can get used to this routine like it’s completely natural, then my body will perform naturally, and I can shoot my best arrow."

///

A well-connected sequence of minimal motion/mono-focused steps is needed to develop that routine

A refined and optimized tactical routine w/ some well-assessed adjustment points is the cornerstone of developing strategic efficiency in any activities. ... (%)

Compass Architect said...

When reading the biblography of Musashi, one can concluded that he was the master of well-focused routines. .. .

Zacky Chan said...

Thanks for sharing, Rick! Though blogposts have been infrequent of late, I assure you I have not been neglecting by beer and arrow training. Cheers.

Rick Matz said...

Osu!

Compass Architect said...

minor correction
When reading the biblography of Musashi, one can conclude that he was the master of well-focused routines. .. .

#
Some of the best mono-focused music is listening to Mozart or Bach instrumental music (keyboard) when working on a "thinking" task