When I wrote the Ethical-code I was helped, as usual, by the opposing opinions and insights of many AKBAN veterans, some of them plainly objected to writing down any sort of an ethical mirror and some understood the need but criticized specific articles in the AKBAN code. One of these was the second article, friendship.
A well versed veteran remarked about the vocabulary, he thought that a weaker word would be more appropriate, something like camaraderie or companionship. Another one was blunt: “What have I got in common with the guys from the Jerusalem dojo?” he said, “I have friends here, in my Tel Aviv dojo and that’s it”.
I wrote what most of the veterans and me felt and waited. Time is a good friend of understanding.
Friendship is not just emotion, it is also emotion and it starts with emotion but it can not persist only with emotion. Only few unique and very prepared people can persist with emotion. Emotion changes, unexpectedly, sometimes without an insight of the cause.
What is important here is the body: The stance, the basic movement, the drills and the randori of friendship. That is another path than “behaving your emotions”, what we need is a path of work.
Friendship begins and ends with a feeling of closeness and shared interests with another, but that is not all, that is just the foundation, what makes it real is the body and its presence, the work is physical, most of the time it just needs presence and communication.
A friend that sometimes doesnâ€™t help is a fact of life, but a friend that isn’t there is what? Is nothing. No need for special sacrifice, just to say hello to martial friends and listen when somebody says something.
And for the veteran that said that he believes only in “natural” friends, wel
Sparring between training partners tends to be more aggressive than oneâ€™s preliminary intention. Potential hazards:
Physical injuries, bad training atmosphere, and ill learning process due to a usage of unnecessary force, focusing on the one big blow instead of rhythmic, flow multi hitâ combinations.
Possible reasons for a rigid sparring:
A lack in communication: verbal signals suggest that all is well, while body language orders you to be alert.
Escalation in violence due to misconduct: intentionally or not, one does not act according to what is considered acceptable; the partner reacts by escalating his reactions.
Suggested remedies for rigid sparring:
I call it the Muai Tai way, just for reference. It begins by constructing the training session as follows:
Repeating basic techniques alone at the beginning of the lesson, supervised by trainer. Gradually, the sequences get more elaborate and complex. This is the time in which the trainee is working alone, honing his moves while facing ever increasing physical demands.
Drills, executed with a partner, require working by the book: each technique should be executed with full intention, maximum accuracy, and significant power, usually using guards. (Shin guards, gloves, etc.) One attacks, the other defends, in a role. It is common to match partners with similar physique, at first. After a while, you change partner.
Heavy sparring: (Heavy = with guards) that focuses on stamina, quick response to opponent moves (tiger eye), and fight tactics. Contact is significant yet safe: one does not invest in sheer power but in speed & leverage. Techniques are tested live. In this part one can change partners often to explore various fight conditions and to defuse potentially explosive situations.
Light sparring: no guards. Suitable only for partners who know the lingo, know and trust each other well enough to play.
No injuries. In this level of sparring there are no “oops”. Each action you took is considered to be an action you chose to take.
Move! Be dynamic: no moves – no play.
Act & react. Take turns, allows your partner to explore, let yourself in situations you wouldnâ€™t normally do.
Speed. In accordance with your partner.
Contact. In accordance with your partner. See rule #1.
Combinations. Low points for single hitâ€¦
Using an aggressive attitude in sparring makes an unimaginative, rigid fighter, while flowing/using technique/lighting upâ€¦ should contribute to an open minded, adjustable fighter.The way you spar is the foundation of the way you fight.
There is a question: where in the body should we focus on?
In the previous post I wrote about the reasons for diverting attention to the body, let me sum these up:
The body is our basic working tool.
A behavioral habit is almost always manifested in the body.
The body can become a “prison” and this condition manifests itself as physical symptoms.
The body enables our most direct encounter with life.
The body is an eternal student.
During some of the processes I have gone through with patients, I have seen that most are capable of understanding the importance of paying attention to the body. But one question arises: What part of my body should I pay attention to? My whole body? This would have been nice; however this is not an “all or nothing” situation. Everyone has to pay attention to a different part according to their personal situation.
There are, however, some basic guidelines regarding attention and the body:
We focus on parts that are painful: this is obvious, we all pay attention to pain, it gives us no choice, yet, if the pain is still manageable, it may still be possible to “explore” it, to try and notice whether it is short and acute, dim and prolonged, where it begins and where it ends.
Another thing is protrusions in the body: scan the body while lying on your back, stopping in protrusions of discomfort: stress, constriction, relaxation. Notice the protrusions without changing them, just letting them be. Sometimes this is enough for something to change.
Breathing: is it shallow, short, deep, how far into the body does it reach. Is it constricted to the chest? Does it reach the diaphragm? The lower abdomen? Do the back and shoulders take part in the breathing?
Breathing is our most useful tool for diverting attention to the different parts of the body. Breathing will assist us in paying attention to the body as whole and to specific organs as well.
Key points in the body: the diaphragm, neck, shoulders and pelvis. Places in which tension or constriction will be easier to spot, being “junctions” in our bodies.
In conclusion, diversion and focusing of attention to the body is an ongoing learning process. If you would like to practice this, it is recommended first to allow proper conditions: not after a heavy meal, not when tired, without constrictive apparel, when the body is comfortable.
Lie on your back, close your eyes and listen to your body. After paying attention to the physical feelings, it is possible to sense more physical phenomena. It is then possible to move on to the next level, the phase where the experiences with the body become interesting: the point where you notice the connection between the physical feelings and atmosphere and emotions. I will attempt to write some other time and elaborate on this.
My insights here are from years of treating people in the Grinberg method.
The AKBAN short chain, the one that Lior has made, is called Kusari Fundo. When I showed it to my friends from Kashima Shin Ryu in Japan, they told me that there it’s simply called Nunchaku. It may be most easily described as “Combat chain”.
I have been training with a combat chain for a few years under Lior’s supervision. After six months of practicing with a rope (imperative in order to learn not to be hurt or hurt others), I switched to a metal chain. Practicing without a target did not suffice, so I turned to metal poles. After a while, Lior asked to inspect my chain and found one link to be cracked.
A cracked link can easily break. It’s very dangerous; the weight can get loose and fly into somebody’s face. I removed the cracked link and shortened the chain. (You need to use a hammer and a nail to remove the hinge), before putting it back together, I rounded the edges (the place where the link and the weight connect) in order to lessen the strains on the chain.
I stopped working on metal poles and began working on wooden ones. I refuse to practice on trees. The tree has done nothing to harm me, and I don’t want to harm it (not to mention bad karma – Song of Songs 1:6 – the evil created when needlessly harming a creature).
In the Taubel community center in Beer Sheva where we train, there are two unused electric poles; these are great for all sorts of training. One of them has knife and ax marks and also some from my chain. After a while I broke another link. I didn’t want to shorten the chain, and Lior gave me one for free. I attached the old hinges and weights to it.
I understood I needed a softer target. I took a piece of wood the length of my head and about 2.5 cm in depth. I drilled a whole on one side, tied a two meter rope to it and a big bolt at the end. The bolt is used to throw the rope over a branch or a goalpost.
The higher the branch or beam, the less the chance of the target getting tangled up. Only, if the branch or beam is too high, untangling becomes more difficult. This target it also useful for boken training (wooden sword), and if one is nearby, it becomes very useful for untangling the target.
The problem with using a piece of wood, is traveling abroad, when you want to spare weight and room in your luggage (especially if youâ€™d ever been caught at the airport with overweight). The wood takes up both space and weight. When I traveled to Japan on Sabbatical for two and a half months, I took only the rope. In Japan I bought a bottle of Coke, drank it and tied the empty bottle to the rope. An empty plastic bottle swings nicely in the wind, making a more challenging target than a piece of wood. I started off with a bottle of a 1.5 litter, worked my way down to a half liter bottle, then to a 400 ml one. This is a challenge of precision.
In order to improve my aim, I took a rubber ball the size of a tennis ball, drilled a hole in it and put the rope in it with a plastic bit at the end so it wouldnâ€™t fall apart. I still have not managed to hit the ball well, but it is fun. Even if I miss the ball, I would still hit an enemies head. A rope with a plastic bottle on one side and a rubber ball on the other is also good. It’s fun to work it 1 and 2: striking the first target, and, even if you miss, striking the second.
Itâ€™s nice to work with pine cones, playing â€œminiature golfâ€ with a small improvised goal. I don’t know if this is a useful skill. Maybe working on a low target is good against dog attacks. Though I wouldn’t want to hurt a dog, even an aggressive one, before I try techniques like smart calm behavior combined with self confidence. The wild dogs in the Negev and the Hebron mountains are used to being attacked by stones for generations. If you just stop to pick up a stone, they will usually run away. However, the chain may be useful in case of crazy dogs.
The targets listed above are useful for precision and speed training. However, I wanted something with the size and feel of a human body. I have a punching bag at home. I wrap it in a heavy blanket to protect the sac. Then I work freely. It also helps to tape small targets on the blanket with masking tape.
The nice thing about the punching bag is that the chain bounces back in unpredictable directions and can hurt you. I hear that there are those who practice while wearing protective clothing against the stinging. Good for them!! I prefer working without protective gear and get some painful injuries occasionally. I also get injured sometime, even with quite a bit of experience. Just as while rolling on a stone floor, every ache is a sign of a mistake, that helps me to correct it.
Instructors note: It is not recommended and unprofessional to be injured, even a little, not from the floor and not by a 300 gram weight at the end of a chain – please do not practice without supervision and guidance of your instructor!
You can, with the proper technique, protect yourself from injuries. But I leave the matter of technique to the AKBAN instructors. I just wanted to write about targets for the short chain.
Few days ago I heard someone say: “Everyone is replaceable”. At first, I agreed, but then rethought, of course not, only machines and certain kinds of food are replaceable. Even so, margarine is only margarine.
Human beings never have a substitute. What gives these people their wholesomeness is the place they occupy in my life. If someone occupies a functional, narrow place in my life then this place has a substitute, but the person never has.
The heart has no replacement, but the heart as a pump has a replacement. Who is the stupid person that would exchange a heart for a pump? Ah, that’s a stupid question, I guess many will.
With courage come losses, there is a life in it. One finds such big treasures that are not achievable to a person in the “substitute business”.
I heard P. say: “One life” and stop to think, then he lifted his right index finger and added: “One person“. He then said some more, but, never mind now, I’ll write about it some other time.
About a month has gone by since I handed the group over to Dan. This has been an extremely long month for me. It is fun being home in the evenings, though the work is difficult and Sisyphean even more than coachingâ€¦
This is a time in which my wife and I need to gather up a lot of strength and take care of our little boy. This, along with raising our older son, work and married life is a big challenge.
I miss you all, I miss practice: the insights, the sweat, the laughter, tea and biscuits at the end…
Thank you very much for your gift which I received through Dan. I understand that almost everyone is persistent and coming to practice, this makes me very happy.
I train in Yossiâ€™s group once a week and try to meet up with at least two other people for more practice on a regular basis in addition to my own training, so Iâ€™m not letting myself rust.
The hard work seems to be paying off and my personal task is slowly making progress. I have some visits from students, and Dan comes over regularly to train with me. You are all gladly invited. I am available on the phone to everyone.
I love you all very much,
See you soon,
Due to insurance and bureaucracy reasons, the responsibility for the group is still mine until the end of March 2007.