Crazy throw thingie

I saw this over on Patrick’s Mokuren Dojo blog (visit it, it’s a great blog):

According to the post in question, this is an aikido technique called a gedanate. Not having studied aikido before (though I’ve read Twigger’s rather ace Angry White Pajamas, which is an ace little book), I don’t know much about this kind of stuff, but I know that the complete lack of visible effort used to send the guy flying off to the side is awesome. Check out Patrick’s original post for more links and discussion on the topic.

Personally, I think it just looks cool 🙂

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Transferring martial arts from two legs to one leg (literally)

Okay, bit of background on this theory – when I seriously mangled my stump back in… early 2006, and had almost a year off from my training to recover from the damage, I found myself trying to transfer those skills to my existing condition and start to work on theorising how I could transfer the techniques and knowledge I had gained from learning karate as an amputee into something I could do on one leg — literally, as this was when I couldn’t even wear my prosthesis.

This seems a bit odd – karate (and by extension, martial arts in general) draw from the body’s natural synergy insofar as the body’s symmetry is concerned – that is, you have a left-hand side and a right-hand side of your body, and it’s by using both sides and all four limbs together that you can extract maximum performance, strength, efficiency and so forth. Training in a martial art with one leg whilst wearing a prosthesis presents challenges to the body’s natural equilibrium, but what happens when you remove the limb altogether?

That’s what I started to investigate. My early experiments were seeing if it was possible to control techniques whilst on crutches. As time has gone on (three years if I’m not mistaken given its 2009 now), I’ve tried to move beyond this, and try and transfer at least some techniques to performing them on one leg. I think I’ve started making a little progress at this stage, and as amateur as it may seem, I might have to get my wife to take some photos so I can post them up on the blog. The main difference is that it is significantly more difficult to transfer powerful techniques on one leg, and the amount of energy required to keep up is absolutely incredible. When doing standing reverse-punches, you have to shift your center of balance slightly, but with practice you can start to pull off techniques with a high degree of hip rotation to start achieving effective technique.

Blocks and grappling are a bit restricted, but if you use measured effort to hold your balance, there is a degree of light technique that I’ve been able to achieve at this stage. Whilst my holds/grappling skills are pretty weak, I think there is a huge potential here to investigate different options, as the lack of a limb theoretically gives you greater access to monkey-style grappling where you can easily grapple with relative agility around/over your opponent. I think it would take an experienced jujutsu/BJJ or grappling fighter to really harness this, but I think the possibilities are there. If ever I learn groundfighting styles further down the road, it would certainly be an interesting exercise to work out how to transfer those principles to this style of technique.

Kicks obviously are pretty much non-existent unless I’m on my crutches, but at that I’m only really limited to thrusting kicks which only have a certain degree of utility. To be honest, it would probably be far more effective to separate the bottom shaft of the crutches and wield them like kali sticks than rely on the crutches for support in doing a thrusting forward kick.

So yeah, just a few thoughts there. Like I said, in a couple of weeks I might get Wifey to take some snapshots whilst I investigate techniques and demonstrate a few techniques I’ve worked out for when I’m without my prosthesis. This train of thought was inspired in part because I’ve had issues with my stump this week and it got me back to thinking about what’s possible in such a condition. Definitely something to think about.

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Elevator punches

Today’s top tip – elevator punches.

Now, this isn’t some crazy new move I’ve stumbled across, but that’s how I’ve named it 🙂 Requirements are:

– An elevator at your workplace that is empty at the time of use
– Obsessed with training
– No shame (in case caught)

This one’s simple – at work (or your place of study – there were elevators when I was at Uni, but I wouldn’t do this in any of them as they all felt like they were going to break down whenever you used them) you may have the option of stairs or elevators. If you’re being healthy, you use the stairs; if you’re lazy, use the elevator. I generally go for the elevator – it’s a bit lazy, but it’s also better for my stump, so that’s the excuse I use.

Now, if you happen to have the elevator to yourself and your hands are free, try this – set yourself on a front stance of your choice (increase the intensity by getting into kiba-dachi if you like) and start throwing forward punches. To make it interesting, see how many you can do between floors. Oh, and unless you want to freak people out (not advised), only do this when you have the elevator to yourself.

Keep in mind that if you’re caught mid-punch or mid-stance upon the elevator doors opening, you will look like an idiot. Also be aware that if you flush in the face easily during short bursts of physical activity, you may also look like an idiot when the elevator doors open, and embarrassing rumours might start flying around the office about what activities you get up to inside the elevator. Both of these outcomes may see you ostracised from your workmates, or alternatively, it may greatly amuse them depending on their sense of humour and your ability at poking fun at yourself.

Oh, and if you have CCTV cameras in your elevator, unless you enjoy amusing security staff, you may want to avoid it.

… looking at all the caveats in the above, I’m not sure if it was actually worthwhile sharing this. Might have to create a new tag for this post along the lines of “Rubbish training tips” or something like that.

On a more serious note though, weight training last night went well, this time still following the principles I discussed in yesterday’s blog about emphasising maximum weight with minimal reps. I’m a bit sore again this morning, but so far I’m enthusiastic with how its going. I’m going to have to start doing kata practice between classes as well – I’ll be back at training next week and don’t want to look too clueless when working on it!!

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Breakfalls

Last night I had my first instruction on the ancient art of ground-slapping, also known as breakfalls. Having been interested in learning this for a while, and having observed the art of falling to the floor with as much utility as possible in such a situation, it was great to have the chance to learn this properly. In short, breakfalls are awesome 🙂

Not that I’m all that good at them – my technique is generally pretty shonky, but I figure I’m just starting, and I can get in plenty of practice between classes if I feel like subjecting myself to deliberately falling over. The theory behind breakfalls is relatively simple – transfer the energy through to the ground from your fall and be as flexible as possible in order to avoid immediate injury and recover as quickly as possible. This means to not resist the fall (tensing up incorrectly means you’re not as malleable when it comes to rolling through to recovery), clamp your mouth shut and move your tongue out of harm’s way, tuck your head into your chest, and slap the ground with your palm and arm extended horizontally. The latter is one of the keys to successfully transferring energy from your fall and into the ground, lessening the impact to your back/shoulders and assisting with a swift recovery. It’s a simple rule, but is surprisingly effective in lessening the impact.

My biggest problem with breakfalls (and ground rolls as well) is that I forget to tuck my head in, which means I jar my neck on impact, which gives me head-spins and the beginnings of a throbbing headache afterwards. If I do extra practice between classes, this is where I need to really focus my energy – I can get over sore muscles or a sore palm, but a jarred head/neck is painful.

The great thing is that sensei instructed how we can practice the techniques solo if we want to, which works well for me fitting in some practice between classes.

So yes, a big fan of breakfalls. As part of the technique, we were also taught a very basic throw, which was also awesome. I’ve always wanted to know how to do throws because I think they’re cool, and the simple one we learnt was good fun. Much to my relief, I was even able to pull it off, though I think my footwork differed a bit from everyone else because of my leg. I’d like to practice this stuff more in the future, it was great fun 🙂

Anywho, might sign off here – I’ll try and add another post tomorrow as well, as we have a special karate seminar tonight. I’ve never been to one of these before, so I’m looking forward to it. Will post my impressions of it tomorrow.

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Maegeri, redux

I had one of those lightbulb moments last night. After doing maegeri’s (front kicks) for years, something finally clicked last night. It was definitely one of those weird, frustrating but ultimately refreshing training moments you get every once in a while.

Let me give some background – maegeri’s are front kicks. The execution is simple – raise knee, leg goes out to strike with the ball of the foot, retract leg back, leg goes down. Simple. Once you get beyond elementary skills, you start perfecting your technique – grounding yourself better, make the kick faster, pull the toes back every time to ensure your striking with the ball of the foot, use your hips, perfect a “whipping” motion, dynamic extension, etc. The one problem I’ve had is that there have been numerous times practicing my kicks on vertical striking pads or on a boxing bag where I’ve mangled my little toe. I always thought it was because my little toe is somewhat demented, in that I can pull back all my other toes, but my little toe refuses to move, so if I strike, there’s an extremely good chance my toe will be bent back or to the side, which is annoying and painful. My theory is that all the abuse I’ve exposed it to over the years of having only one leg malformed it in some way, and that there wasn’t much I could do to improve the quality of my front kicks with the stupid little thing. Until last night!

I’ve found that by adjusting the horizontal angle of my foot a fraction to the right, I’m now not only kicking more prominently with the ball of my foot, but my little toe is no longer getting in the way! The extra bonus is that the slight change in angle has also re-enforced the kick, as it has brought all the bones and muscles into tighter alignment. The stupid thing is that I should have realised this ages ago, as it follows the same precepts behind any standard punch in karate – align the bones, lock them in at the point of impact and focus the strike on the two knuckles nearest the thumb. Obviously in the case of the maegeri, exchange “knuckles” for the area of the ball of the foot around your big toe.

So yes, hooray for me and my lightbulb moment. I didn’t go too full on with my kicks on the bag last night since I hadn’t warmed up my knee enough (and I was conscious of the time I had available to fit in my usual workout), but hopefully I’ll be able to get in some additional practice with my kicks from now on to improve them.

Mind, I also intended to squeeze in some additional kata before tonight’s training, so I should have done that as well. I blame it on my nerdy score-burger over the long weekend just gone, as its more convenient to place the blame on an inanimate object than myself. And because I’m so proud of my nerd achievement, I’ll also pollute the blog with a post about it in the near future 🙂

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