Teacher let us know on Tuesday that he wanted to work on meditation last night. This usually means that he wants to do energy work as well or what I call “feats of strength.”
After a short set of blocking drills we refocused using a circular block that really requires relaxed shoulders and arms. Teacher will occasionally take a foray out of our hard-style comfort zone and attempt to get us to relax portions of our physique that should be relaxed no matter what. I mean that a cross-block in TSD (Tang Soo Do) is also a strike to a certain degree and requires muscle tensions in all sorts of directions. So not only are you blocking, but you are also striking. As I’ve mentioned before dynamic tension in the move is a shockingly difficult concept to get my head around – something best felt rather than intellectually encapsulated.
What Teacher is trying to show us is that certain things need to be strong and other things need to be relaxed. My ignorance of the physiology involved makes me guess that what makes us fast is a certain set of muscles and not all of them. Brighter minds probably know.
To amplify on this Teacher had me block punches very close at real speed. A majority of these made it through to varying degrees. He had me practice a quick relaxation and unfocus from the situation then he punched again.
I should mention here that my mind was completely occupied with trying to ignore all the external stimuli and figuring that I wasn’t going to block his shot for all the tea in China.
While my mind was struggling to free itself from the monkey-madness Teacher took the shot and before I could even think I had already blocked the shot. Stunned, I just gaped for a minute. Teacher punches very fast and I performed a beautiful block with little or no stress. He saw my obvious disbelief and had me relax again for another shot. As my mind inevitably got itself into a dither he did another and I blocked just as nicely!
Tall new guy joined me in disbelief. There was a lot of mouth breathing.
We worked on unbreakable arm for awhile. Only two folks in the class could get there last night. After all these years I still fight believing it even though I see it in front of my eyes. Doubting Tater – the pragmatic martial artist who can’t grow for that very reason.