Friday, October 19, 2007

"A Three Hour Tour..."

Life sometimes throws us a curve ball. Look at the castaways from the SS Minnow. A three hour two suddenly became years away from family and friends. What if young Gilligan had been a Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu student? How could he have continued his training while cut-off from his teacher? More importantly, how could you continue training if you're isolated from a regular dojo?

Don't despair. There is plenty to do no matter where you might find yourself. the three staples in your training program should be: Sanshin no Kata, Kihon Happo no kata, and the first two sections of the Ten Chi Jin no Maki.

Sanshin no Kata are solo forms, so their relevance to solo or isolation training is fairly evident. If previously you've been exposed to the confusion of different variations from different teachers, now is the time to capitalize on that variety and try them all. Try the kata at different speeds. Train them with weapons. Focus oin your breathing during some sessions. In other sessions, focus on the rotation of the spine.

For Kihon Happo, you may need to find a partner. Usually that's not too hard. Don't fret if you have to train the new partner. Some of your best self-learning comes from teaching techniques to others. Fortunately, these are easy movement; learn them in an afternoon, master them over a lifetime. This is a good time to remember all the little things your instructor told you, starting with, "Remember to train both sides." Acting as Uke yourself and feeding a good attack is an important component of your training. If you take the attitude that your new partner's need to learn good basics is paramount, then you'll find plenty to keep you busy with just the Kihon Happo.
If you are lucky enough to have access to some version of the Ten Chi Jin no Maki, then you'll find tons of self-training and single partner training ideas in the first two sections of the book. Those sections cover basic skills of body movement and certain combat techniques. If you are diligent, you can easily stay busy with breakfalls, rolls, walking, running, fists, kicks, locks, and throws. I don't suggest you mess with the third and final section of the book, the Jin no Maki, without a competent instructor around. The translations of the book are muddled, and you'll require an instructor and reference material to correctly do the kata.
Wow. That ought to be plenty for the solo trainer. But we aren't exhausted yet.
There's always conditioning. Set up a mile circuit for stamina. For strength, don't neglect basic body weight exercies such as push-ups, crunches, or pull-ups. You may have gym equipment available. if not, there are many ways to improvise weight sets. If all else fails, take a Shinden Fudo Ryu approach and use the elements of nature for conditioning. And for goodness sake, don't forget to stretch. This is often neglected at home, but it's an easy fit to solo training sessions.

That's a basic program to keep taijutsu skills up to snuff. Before we continue, let me also suggest that you specifically schedule time for self-training. I don't mean a vague promise to yourself to train everyday. Put it on the calendar. Mark out the time every couple of days to self-train. You'll find it easier to stick with if you know exactly when you'll be trainin and for how long. Also, without a teacher handy, you'll be relying on your ability to use your prior knowledge to analyze your problems in order to work through them. Good luck, and I hope you've been paying close attention in class.

Other options: Cross-training. There is value in almost any martial arts system and something may be better than nothing. But check out the teacher before you make a commitment. The key to cross-training is an open heart and a focus on searching for the similarities between taijutsu and your new martial art. There are only so many ways to move the human body, so you'll find many similarities. Identifying commonalities across arts will give you a deeper insight into effective body movement. If you have not been in taijutsu for very long, and you focus on the differences between the systems, then cross-training may actually be detrimental to your taijutsu skills. Be careful.
Weapons. It may not always be feasible to train with weapons. On the other hand, some tools -- hanbo, bo, kusari fundo, and knives - are easy to find or improvise. Taking solo time to practice kamae, movement, strikes, blocks and attack angles can add variety to your solo workout. Be careful teaching these skills to a new partner, as it may be too much too soon.
Some homework: If you have access to the internet while you are away, make arrnagements to stay in contact with your teacher. If questions come up, do not hesitate to ask. Incorrect practice is worse than no practice at all.
Scour your resources - magazines, books, internet - for articles on teaching children. These articles usually place an emphasis on fun and can add a real spark to bland training the longer you're away from home.
Get a copy of the SAS Survival Manual, either the pocket size version or full-size. This is invaluable in an emergency and can suggest simple collateral training in survival skills.

Whether you are away from your home dojo for three hours, thirteen months, or three years, this ought to give you some ideas about how to keep busy training.

1 comment:

Bob Denver said...

Had I only known this back in '64.