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Lately, I have been trying to see with my eyes. It sounds so obvious and simple "see with your eyes", but what I have come to realize is that it isn't a simple task. Countless people walk around every day seeing, without really seeing anything. They don't take in their surroundings, as they are only focused on the path directly in front of them. The details of their surroundings melt away, carelessly dismissed. Or perhaps they see, but they deem it useless information and don't really give it time to process. What a waste of such a beautiful gift. Sight, one of the best assets we have, yet we never really take the time to acknowledge exactly how valuable a tool it is.
I have become conscious of the fact that I myself am quite guilty of not seeing as well as I should. Through my years of martial arts training, I have been taught to be aware of my surroundings and to take in the little details. You know… those little details that could vary well save your life one day. The other day in class, sensei was demonstrating a technique (we were working on irimi and irimi-tenkan against tanto). I carefully watched his every movement. Saw what he did with his hands, saw that he entered. I thought I saw everything to this simple technique. It turns out that I did not see everything. I tossed aside some valuable information. Previously we were both starting in gyaku hanmi. This time we were supposed to start in ai hanmi. When I went to do the technique, I was baffled at the fact that I was ending up no the wrong side of the knife. I knew something was wrong. I tried recalling the details of sensei's demonstration. Sensei came to my rescue and told me that I needed to start with the other foot forward. The light bulb finally came on.
How could I be so blind? How could I overlook something so important? Sure, what I did got me out of the way of the knife. Sure, I had other techniques that were available to me, but it wasn't the one I was supposed to be working on. I admonished myself and told myself I would be more aware with the details from now on. Truthfully, this will happen again; just like it has happened several times in the past. I would like to think that I am getting better at taking in the whole picture. In all honesty, there are times where I am so focused on watching what his hands are doing that I forget to see how he started out with his stance. I am able to tell his general movement, but starting out on the wrong foot can make a world of difference.
I am at the point that the first time I try to take in the entire picture. Get the general layout of the technique. The second time, I see what his hands are doing. Is he throwing in an atemi as well? Is he flipping his wrist over at the last second before uke grabs it? The third time, I try to pay careful attention to his footwork. The fourth time I use for whatever I still think I need more information about. It may be looking at the general picture again or it may focus on something particular. It just depends on how familiar I am with the technique. If it is something I have never done before, I may watch uke instead to see how he takes the ukemi. Since I am usually the one being tossed around first, I find this valuable information. Being uke first also allows me to watch nage and have the ability to process the technique a bit more before it is my turn.
Seeing with your eyes…. Something so simple and intuitive, yet we must train ourselves to look for the details. We must not blindly walk through life. Take in, absorb and process your surroundings; both the obvious and the subtle. There is a saying that goes "It's all in the details." More and more, I am beginning to see just how accurate of a statement it really is.