Conscious and unconscious movement
Moving around is part of the most enjoyable activities in humans life and when our movements stop, our life is also stopping. But sometimes we need a rest, sleeping, relaxing, ….. Taking a rest or relaxing is part of our movement and at first sight there is no outward movement. It is no wonder to find out there is a lot of movement inside. These movements are unconscious movements. Our consciousness has no control.
Conscious internal movements concern mostly musculoskeletal alignment and connectedness. They are in many cases not visible externally.
During human moving activities, a pause is often used to give a dramatic performance. Pause is a part of a movement or performance.
The conscious brain is reacting to action or pause with a delayed time. This can be utilized to change strategy or movement (switch) during martial arts performance.
0.5 seconds for the mind to recognise what has occurred
Benjamin Libet states in his book, “Mind Time: The Temporal Factor in Consciousness (Perspectives in Cognitive Neuroscience),” that it takes 0.5 seconds for the mind to recognise what has occurred.
Benjamin Libet is known worldwide for the experiments he has conducted over a long career (his first experiences date back to 1957-1958) on how the human brain produces conscious awareness.
The brain will have a recognisable sensation coming from the skin or some other body structure only if the stimulus continues for at least 500 msec: shorter durations do not elicit any awareness of the sensation.
There is an actual delay of 500 msec for sensory awareness even when the sensation is generated by a single pulse applied to normal sources at the skin.
Pause, a part of our movements
During switching of movements, we need a pause to reset our muscles. Resetting the muscles is changing the tone, or in other words “more or lesser tension” to create a better efficiency movement.
Switching without detection by the opponent is only possible if we can perform this during the 0,5sec mentioned earlier.
We can make the delay longer by using “kuzushi”. This situation sets up a pause in the defense against an attack. Regaining stability is triggered by some survival instinct and will take over the actions learned during martial arts training.
Basically, kuzushi is a kind of switch with hakkei or sudden power. When practising kuzushi slowly and with bigger movements, we cannot consider this as a part of the strategy to make opponents “brain delay” longer.
Pause, an educational tool
This kind of pause is longer than the pause during movements. Practitioners without experience need some time to make decisions how to do a movement. By integrating “pause” into movement sequences, the brain will detect the changes in the sequences and make the appropriate adjustments.
Most of the “kuzushi” demonstrations use such a method to make clear the mechanism of kuzushi. This is an artificial situation, and will always fail in “randori” because it is going beyond the delayed time.
Different types of training
Solo-training is an integral part of a martial art training program. Solo-training is a simple method to introduce martial art movements. There is a perception of “no-resistance”, but this is a delusion. Beginners are not aware of gravity or excessive tension. When we discover gravity and relaxation, partner training is the next step. Nevertheless, keep in your mind: There is relaxation in tension – there is tension in relaxation.
Solo-training start with big movements and done slowly. Remember, we need time to recognize what is happening.
After some time, we can start to make the movements smaller and eventually faster, but not fast.
When you can observe your movements without making any comments in your head, it is time to start to partner exercises.
From a practical view on how to keep students or trainees enthusiastic, sotai dosa or partner exercises are introduced before proper body movements are ingrained. But avoid “tanren” training.
Practical training concepts
Practical concepts depends largerly on ingrained basics in the subconscious mind. Mostly these ingrained concepts will be tested during all kinds of randori, ranging from kakari geiko through hikitate geiko to randori geiko.
During basic training, the concept of pause is mostly considered as an educational tool.
Pause as a practical tool during randori is build upon the skill of relaxation/tension and diverse strategy concepts.
Training with a partner, trainer or teacher should led trainee to follow by “sticking” at the contact points and learns to listen (chokei in Hino Budo terms).
Sensitivity training with light resistance. Testing the body/mind integrity of the trainees. Cultivating internal muscoskeletal alignment and connectedness. Using sufficient force (tension) to overcome resistance.
There must be relaxation within tension and tension within relaxation/tension exchange. Avoid rigidity and stiffness.
Solo-training of basic movements is an entry to ingrain whole-body neuromuscular movements. Mind-body control is necessary to obtain coordinated whole-body neuromuscular movement.
Partner training has to be seen as an extension of solo-training
Randori training is an exercise with a build-in unknown factor. Timing, distance or interval, speed….are unknown factors. Starting with low-intensity resistance and adding proportionally unknown factors cannot emphasized enough. When we start too soon with “hakkei” or sudden power, succes in randori will be far away.
Tanren – The art of repetition
Do not cultivate sequential patterns of response as a solution to the problems of fighting. If you use conscious procedural thinking (sequential processing) to observe, analyze, and then react, you will lose most of your hand-to-hand encounters or confrontations. You cannot predict/anticipate when and from where an attack is coming, and then take appropriate action.
Therefore, instead of wasting time and energy memorizing sequential patterns of movements also called “kata choreography”, let your sub-conscious reflexes automatically execute the proper actions at the proper time without conscious mind- intent.
Kata performed as ‘Tanren’, or repetitive slow drilling is highly regarded as a method of power building
The art of repetition
quote by Akira Hino
You cannot really learn and understand the meaning by copying something over and over just because someone told you that there is a significance in doing so.
There is a fine line there… between a genuine motivation to learn and just an intellectual amusement.
If you think the meaning of repetition is just a piece of knowledge given by somebody else. You will not able to learn anything worthwhile on your own.
Kata must be simple if we like to use it as Tanren. If kata is too complicated it will be a waste of time. It is better to practise 1 or 2 linked movements with low resitance at slow speed. The mind need time to listen to the body and absorb the principle or concept behind the movement(s).
For example during static postures in standing meditation (ritsuzen) isometric activity of the major leg muscles is a motionless movement to practise drilling the feet to generate power with the support of the floor.
Dynamic examples can be found in koryu no kata. Some kata are complicated sequences and are build upon linking simple basic movements.
Of course, kata training offers more than power building exercises.
Something to take into consideration
The Relative Tempo of Techniques: some techniques are performed quickly, while others are done more slowly. Tempo can be so slow that there is no visible external movement, it is a pause in the external movement.
The Relative Force of Power: The power of a technique derives from the proper balance between strength and relaxation. Power is a balance between ju (soft/strong) and go (hard/strong). Power can be dynamic (ido ryoku) but also static (isometric tension). Isometric tension has no visible external movement, it is a pause in the external movement.
The Control of Breathing: The correct timing during breathing (inhaling and exhaling). After inhaling we need sometimes a pause, to have a better absorbtion of the oxygen. This is a pause in the breathing.
By using these 3 concepts and through concentration, dedication and practice, a higher level of power skills may be achieved, where the movements are so ingrained in the subconscious mind that no conscious attention is needed. This is what we call Mushin 無心, or “no mind.” The conscious, rational thought practice is not used at all – what was once memorized is now spontaneous.