Blind date with Sanchin...

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Blind date with Sanchin...

Postby tigereye » Wed Dec 20, 2006 5:00 pm

Sounds like a crazy idea but actually it is a wonderful experience.
Why I would like to share this with you is partly because I feel that there will be a lot of new things to discover. On the other hand because I am interested to know if there are any other people who ever practiced Sanchin in this way?
With a few adventurous fellow karateka got the crazy idea to run Sanchin blind.
So based on trust that everybody keeps his/her eyes closed we started to do the kata.
First time there was some slight confusion. We all felt uncertainty where reached the point to turn direction. Everybody noticed that ears worked like powerful “radars”.
Most of us ended with a slightly degree difference from our start position.

I found interesting that my end position was 45° left to my start position. I knew there was a stage in the right so I consciously tried to avoid running against it. I guess I lost senses of distance to the object so before started the kata second time I looked at that object and realized it is far away to cause me any trouble. This made changes .I ended with 15° difference to the left from my start position.
I thought this happens because of that object but tried at home and still my Sanchin ends with a slightly degree left to start position

Why? I couldn't figure out yet .

Experience things differently when your eyes closed could produces nice results.
I would like to know your opinions, thoughts, experience regarding this issue. It could help me and serve as a correction for my mistakes.
Eva
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Postby MikeK » Wed Dec 20, 2006 7:00 pm

Hi Eva,
I do a lot of movement work sans eye sight. Here are a few pointers for doing so.

1. Don't think too hard about where you remember things were, it's better to concentrate on where you are at that instant.

2. Sources of sounds can move so don't depend on them too much.

3. Learn to use your feet as feelers. Most people walk around like Frankenstein's monster with their hands out stretched feeling for things and neglect the floor. When moving forward I use a step that goes from big toe touching down first, then rolling the foot down until the heel touches. And until that foot is secure all my weight is on my support leg. This footwork also works backwards.

4. Don't stretch your arms out so that they are parallel to the floor. The sanchin arm position is pretty good and offers some face protection while still letting you feel for anything in front of you.

5. Move slow.

6. Have one person keep their eyes open to keep everyone else out of trouble.
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Postby Bill Glasheen » Wed Dec 20, 2006 9:04 pm

Good points, Mike.

If you've been around long enough, you've tried most of these fun things. I've done it.

Take this a step further. Every once in a while, I do a blind jiyu training. I throw everyone in the middle of the room, and tell them to search and destroy - with eyes closed. I try to make sure everyone is pretty much the same size so we don't get a short person out there with face at the level of someone else's belly. Then I tell them that the attacks they should do would be a flat palm thrust to the torso.

At first I separated the males from the females, because I started doing it with large classes of college men and women. But some of the women objected. Go figure. :wink: So.... I told them that the exercise might mean someone would get a personal body part touched, and they could elect not to participate if they felt uncomfortable. Most would jump in no problem. Basically anyone with arms in Sanchin pretty much had their breasts protected, so... And of course women could "accidentally" goof and hit a little low, so... Things worked out. 8)

You'd be surprised at how people naturally would gravitate to Sanchin stances, Sanchin steps and turns, and tenshin movements - without any prompting on my part. It was a great way to validate the Sanchin posture paradigm.

The reason why I mention this is because ultimately it's useful to put a game to the test. We want to keep it out of the martial fantasy realm if at all possible. By bringing the blind kata practice to blind jiyu practice, we get to see (oops...) how it all may or may not be relevant.

You will be relying on different senses. You will be using sound, and the feedback from your vestibular system. You will use a sense of touch with all your body. Mike's description of how to move with the feet is perfect no matter what the eyes are doing. Stepping while blind as he describes just validates the normal way we should be moving.

In real hand-to-hand combat, in-close fighting should rely VERY heavily on touch over sight. These exercises just help you focus on that.

- Bill
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Postby Van Canna » Wed Dec 20, 2006 9:39 pm

Good stuff Bill. :)
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Postby MikeK » Wed Dec 20, 2006 10:13 pm

Eva,
A few more small tips that go together for doing this kind of movement. And they are very close to how you do sanchin.

Take small steps, keep your knees flexed and your balance centered. When you don't have your eyes to give you a point of reference it's very easy to become unbalanced, and without balance you are at a big disadvantage.

You may also want to place some light weight obstacles on the floor to add some more challenge and help learn to use your feet more.

Bill,
Outside of my happy little troupe, you're the only other person I know that trains this to any degree. Here's a few more real world uses for this training:

1) Learning to keep your eyes on your opponent or target when on busy terrain. I've noticed people will glance at the ground when they are unsure of their footing, and this may not be a luxury we can have when things are going bad.

2) Moving through a home in the dark. This is easy to practice and quite a handy skill even when bad things aren't happening. Toys, dogs and dog toys help with this drill.

3) Moving backwards. I know we don't do it but it sure helps to be able to feel for obstacles when making "tactical retreats". This goes along with item 1.
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Postby tigereye » Thu Dec 21, 2006 4:41 pm

MikeK wrote:You may also want to place some light weight obstacles on the floor to add some more challenge and help learn to use your feet more.


Mikek, Bill,

Thanks to both of you to share your experience and the tips.
I really got excited to practice Sanchin blind.

<<< You may also want to place some light weight obstacles on the floor to add some more challenge and help learn to use your feet more. >>>

Mikek,
This sounds great! Yesterday I was wearing ankle weight during the exercise that helped me to concentrate more to my feet. No big changes yet but I go for it…
During my 10 days vacation time I plan to practice daily.
Actually the place I will spend my holiday is silent, uncrowded, a very beautiful place with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
The perfect location of the place will make it easy to think of nothing in the world other than training.
My special plan for those days to practice in the garden, in the dark, to be near the natural world, to wake up my animal instinct...:)
It will be a memorable, special training for sure.
I can also see than how spoiled I am...and how brave :) to close my eyes in the mysterious,dark night ...actually the area is very dark with no much source of man-made light so as darkness falls in the only light is the moon itself.
Thanks once more the tips and to share your experience.
Be continued....:)

Have a nice holiday season!
Eva
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Postby MikeK » Thu Dec 21, 2006 6:16 pm

Yesterday I was wearing ankle weight during the exercise that helped me to concentrate more to my feet.

Whoops not what I meant Eva. :oops: I meant obstacles to feel for with your feet, and use light weight obstacles so you don't trip or hurt your feet if you hit into them too fast.
Sorry I wasn't clearer. :oops:
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Postby tigereye » Thu Dec 21, 2006 7:04 pm

MikeK wrote:
Whoops not what I meant Eva. :oops: I meant obstacles to feel for with your feet, and use light weight obstacles so you don't trip or hurt your feet if you hit into them too fast.
Sorry I wasn't clearer. :oops:


Mikek,

Don't worry...I understood every single word you wrote.
I just wanted to tell you what I have done to focus more on my feet.
Thanks, I really appreciate your help. I will to try out what you suggest…I promise…:wink:
Eva
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Postby MikeK » Thu Dec 21, 2006 7:23 pm

Eva,
Have a great holiday and enjoy your training.
Mike :D
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Postby mhosea » Thu Dec 21, 2006 8:31 pm

In Matsubayashi Ryu there is a minor emphasis on "positional coincidence" in kata, by which it is just meant that you start and end at the same spot. All 18 kata of the system are designed for this, so you get this point of feedback on the symmetry of your footwork. With some of the katas it is particularly difficult because of the number of steps in any given direction and the type of moves (e.g. sliding and "spring" steps). Tomari Passai, one of the very few Matsubayashi katas that I still practice, is one of the more difficult ones in this respect, judging from my own experience and from noting that both the kudan Soke of the style and Jim Sindt (then yondan of Matsubayashi Ryu, promoted by the founder to that rank, and who is now of Koryu Uchinadi) fail to achieve positional coincidence by what appears to be more than 2 feet as a result of asymmetry in forward and and rearward spring and slide steps. I do practice this one with my eyes closed once in awhile for a greater awareness of my footwork. It does strike me a weakness that one NEEDS to use the visual environment to provide feedback for calibrating turns, so I like the exercise for this reason as well as because it promotes a better awareness of what the body is doing.
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Postby Bill Glasheen » Thu Dec 21, 2006 10:27 pm

To your point Mike...

Our own biological clocks usually don't operate on a 24-hour cycle. Much experimentation has been done with putting people in closed environments and watching how their wake/sleep cycle diverts from 24 hours.

What we have is an internal "clock" in our brain which controls the cyclic release of melatonin. It's close to 24 hours, but not quite. It varies in its internal cycle from person to person (which can partially explain why some are early risers and some like to stay up late). Then it is our eyes receiving photons from the sun which locks our clocks onto the earth's rotational cycle.

Similarly we are all built differently. Just look in a mirror and you'll see that one side of your face doesn't match the other. Few of us are perfectly symmetrical, and we all have one side dominance.

That being the case, even if we train our bodies in a balanced fashion, we may find that we aren't balanced. So it makes sense that doing kata blind will result in us not facing the direction we want to face, or being where we "should" be.

Getting down to practical application... Partner work is about doing our kata technique and adapting it to the situation like the tea in the tea cup. It is actually desireable for us to "course correct" using our various senses. Not to be able to do this is to be lacking in important martial skills.

Vision is just one of many senses we use to adjust what we do in the context of our environment. The exercise of doing things "blind" should not be thought of as being a failure if we constantly find ourselves facing different directions. It just reveals some things which we should be aware of.

It is however useful to use "blindness" to teach us how to use other senses better.

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Postby mhosea » Thu Dec 21, 2006 11:17 pm

Perfect symmetry is boring. Without asymmetry we would not exist.

Yes, I agree. I hadn't actually thought much about enhancing other senses, rather of simply learning what it feels like to make accurate turns and developing the skill (requires practice) of making these turns without always relying on visual cues to dial them in. It's more than that with Tomari Passai, but the basic principle is the same. Mirrors will show you what you are doing, but as an observer.
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Postby Andrew Peterson » Sat Dec 23, 2006 2:33 pm

This is a very interesting thread. Eva, I have to commend you for experimenting with your Uechi. This is an example of “thinking out of the box.” By that I mean not just doing the same thing the same way in the dojo day after day. I am reminded of something my brother and I used to do many years ago when we were Kyu students. We had a large room in the basement which we blocked off the windows so that no light could come in from outside. We then turned off the lights and practiced moving around. We figured closing our eyes made it to easy to cheat. We found that sanchin stepping was the best way to move without hurting ourselves. We also used the throw stuff on the floor to make it more interesting. Then we figured, “What happens if we try to find each other and make contact?” This was before those foam tubes that many dojo’s use for “soft bo” training, so we used long sofa cushions. It was kind of like a pillow fight in the dark. We had a lot of fun, didn’t break anything, and didn’t hurt each other (much).
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Postby tigereye » Sun Dec 24, 2006 9:45 am

Andrew Peterson wrote:This is a very interesting thread. Eva, I have to commend you for experimenting with your Uechi. This is an example of “thinking out of the box.” By that I mean not just doing the same thing the same way in the dojo day after day.


This is a very interesting thread. Eva, I have to commend you for experimenting with your Uechi. This is an example of “thinking out of the box.” By that I mean not just doing the same thing the same way in the dojo day after day.

One day my son got the idea to go sailing.
We were arguing:
Me: -you don't even know how to sailing a boat and it is not safely...etc
Son:- and? There will be another person who knows.
Me: -but it's a long way and nothing to do?
Son:- What do you think why Magellan sailed around the entire Earth.?
Me:- I guess he was curious to see new worlds and cultures..
Son: -Yes!!! Do you think he could discover anything if he was not curious?

So fallowing the wise philosophy of my son:
You need to have strong sense of curiosity to "Explore" something.
And as George says to me always: "go for it"!
I will …!

Thanks Andrew! Merry Christmas!
Eva
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