Unbalancing the Scales (In your favor)

April 2005

Volume 9 Issue 3

Aibudo Kanji
Picture of Shihan

     The awareness that you are able to initially acquire on the street is totally lost in the dojo ring.  Technically there isn't any difference, when things first start out.  "Yellow" is yellow (when you first step into the ring) and "Orange" becomes orange (when you first face each other).  Generally the "Yellow" stage is bypassed and you go directly to "Orange" which is detrimental to your defense.  When you are called upon to compete (kumite, randori, etc.), approach the competition area with the general awareness of "Yellow" and attempt to maintain this, up until the time that the closure begins.  Even at closure, try and maintain a general awareness outside the "border" of your opponent.  In this way, many of the unexpected's are able to be avoided or "snuffed" by the way of your natural defense mechanism's.  To say this in another way, focusing on what you might "expect" blinds you from the "unexpected" which can be far worse.  You might compare this to looking at the fist in front of you and missing the knife in the other hand.

     Maybe you can see now, that the first step in balancing the scales in your favor is accomplished by developing an awareness around and beyond that of which is directly in front of you.  It's just like the old knife defense strategy.  If you look at the knife, you'll probably get stuck with it, but if you focus around and beyond the appendage holding the knife your reaction and defense will be greatly improved.  Naturally this depends a great deal upon your "training developed void", but even in the natural state of things, you will be much better off regardless.  Once again, focusing not on what is right in front of you, but what is beyond and around is a much better strategy.

Life's Schedules

and The Martial Arts

     Living today with unplanned or and/or undesired schedule's is tough.  It's difficult for many to even work the martial arts in, let alone train as the arts demand.  There are times when you feel like it would make life easier to just "pack it in" and forget it.  Struggles with the work hours/shifts, family demands/schedules, finances and just plain being tired because of it, cause martial arts training to be a "chore" for most.  But regardless of all the above the training instructors "duty" places the priority of the "dojo" as number one.  I don't imagine that there is one in 10,000 martial arts instructors who realize this when they put the "Sensei" on their sleeve.  As most in our area are aware of, there is one "dojo" south of us, that shuts down for three month's in the summer.  Well, just between me and you, that isn't a dojo, it's a part-time endeavor of a sport oriented entity that the martial arts is not a part of.  The martial arts are one of the most dedicated and demanding entity's that the human race can become involved with.  Our education system, sports and even some "full-time" employment is part-time, when you think about it.  There is only one other thing, that I know of that demands full-time, week after week, no matter what and that's our heart.  It quits and you quit.  I know that first hand.  So, before anyone who has never "lived" the arts, decides to become a "lead" instructor in the arts, give it a good hard study.  It can be extremely rewarding with intermittent periods of depressing slumps that can pull you down in the "pits".  Life and the martial arts go hand-in-hand with instructors, which leaves no alternatives but to fail what we have chosen to accept as our life-long "duty"!

     Whenever and wherever you approach or are approached by others, there is a "balancing act" going on, in favor of one or the other.  You are already aware of the "5 colors of awareness" and that you should be in the "yellow" state (number 2) at the very least and in some situations "orange" might be called for as normal.  In most cases you should be generally aware, in a wide scope of things to what's going on, but in some situations you might want to concentrate more in one specific direction or area.  In the first case, you would be in a "yellow" state and in the latter, you would place yourself nearer to or in an "orange" level of awareness.

     What this all amounts to is this……..Whether in the dojo, dojang, kwoon, etc. or on the street, a balancing of the scales in your favor is critical for your winning or survival.  Heaven forbid, that you ever allowed yourself to be on the short end of this balancing situation and the unexpected happened.

     With that said, how do you balance your defense life in your favor?  First off, you have to develop a "basic plan".  Do you just meander around in a total disregard to what's going on or do you take a good general look?  Beyond the "look", open your ears and listen for what you aren't able to visually see.  On the street, this is generally easy to accomplish, for a short time at least.  But, before you know it, you are daydreaming about something and your awareness has gone down the sewer.  In the martial arts training arena, we have a different awareness problem, particularly with individuals of less than "master grade".  You get so involved in the individual in front of you, that you "tunnel down" and actually don't see or hear anything.