Despite my dislike for training to emphasise control and form there may be benefits derived from this type of training. Sean over on Gisoku Budo blog has been able to use the ‘Form Police’ approach to his advantage, in more ways than simply achieving good form and controlled technique. Sean’s blog records “training experiences and thoughts on martial arts from the perspective of an above-knee amputee”. Sean has a very inspiring post entitled Learning to walk again through karate and after reading the ‘Form Police’ post on here Sean responded.
It’s great that Sean has got so much from
“Standing in funny stances with plenty of minute correction is …. (important)…. to understanding the inherent functions of my body, especially with regards to my physical disability”
Put simply, emphasis on form in karate has benefited him immensely. By becoming aware of how his body is working (improving his kinaesthetic sense) he has been able to participate and succeed in karate and improve his general lifestyle. This is a wonderful outcome and his dedication is an example to all and gives credence to the insistence of emphasis on form.
I do wonder, however, whether the other students in his club have been so successful in understanding their inherent body functions as a result of minute corrections. Sean having to overcome the “free-swinging hinge in the middle of (his prosthesis)” to attain sufficient balance to kick from his artificial leg would surely enforce a high degree of kinaesthetic awareness to be successful. This confound the assumption that minute correction itself was responisbile for heightened boady awareness. Even if we accept that the insistance on correct form and minute correction leads to an advanced body awareness or kinaesthetic sense, which is hugely useful in martial arts training, the question is whether or not this emphasis on form provides the optimal method of attaining this?
Kata is an expression of perfect form in karate, or at least it’s an attempt. Kata performance, of course, varies in it’s execution, although there is generally a striving for it to be performed ‘just so’. The kata arena is a good example of when ‘minute correction’ in karate is rife. I can watch a lot of kata on you tube or in dojo’s, but I don’t often see very much in the way of heightened kinaesthetic sense. Quite the opposite, usually there’s very little evident, and as such the performance is rather ‘empty’. So while kata training provides plenty of emphasis on form perhaps it is not the optimal method of attaining body awareness, it all depends on how the kata is trained I guess. When emphasising form and control throughout technique execution during kata or elasewhere, there is not necessarily any body awareness training going on. However, if the emphasis switches to focusing on feeling how we move to perform these techniques there may well be kinaesthetic training occurring.
Some people are biased to learning through body awareness, this is natural to them, others may acquire this awareness by concentrating on form and control when learning to punch, kick or whatever. If the goal involves in transferring significant force into a target concentrating on form/control does not achieve this in an optimal manner. It’s all very well being aware of whats happening kinaesthetically, but if whats happening is of little value there’s little point in attending to it.
The question is how transferable is any body awareness knowledge gleaned from training emphasising form/control to self-protection training? But thats another post…..