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Old 06-22-2010, 07:45 PM   #11
Ellis Amdur
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Location: Seattle
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 896
Re: Can't find colored jos, so...........

1. There's always a question, from a traditional martial arts side, at what point one is too "flamboyant" (O-gesa or kiza) in Japanese. Purpleheart, for example - never seen it in Japan, but it's become acceptable, even in very traditional dojo in the States, at least. Multi-colored weapons, unless it is natural (heartwood and sapwood, for example), would be a little much for me.
2. The other question, however, is more interesting. "Self-visual" learning is mostly contraindicated in learning weapons. Same thing goes for using mirrors. Think of it this way. Mirror neurons are the hottest subject in neurology these days - the discovery of a whole battery of myriads of neurons that only fire when observing someone else doing something. In other words, from infancy, we truly do learn from observation. A baby observes her father drinking with a cup and the mirror-neurons are firing inside her in response, templating, if you will, what it <will> feel like to drink. When she starts trying to drink, she is not observing herself, as much as she is doing two things: she is trying to make the rest of her nervous system conform to what she's already "done" in the mirror-neuron realm. She's trying to associate a sensation with success - she needs to feel success, not observe success.
3. Therefore, the visual learner should be focusing on his or her teacher's movements, as they are the ideal (and hopefully, it's a worthwhile ideal). He or she then associates a certain "felt-sense" when most closely moving as the teacher does - and this becomes recognizable in the dark, or in the heat of two-person forms - and theoretically in combat.
4. Students who "watch" themselves have always been, in my experience, the hardest to teach. One says, "lower your hips," and they look down. "Make a transition with your hands like this," and they look at their hands. They essentially, incessantly, teach themselves how to move more like themselves. Back to mirrors: I therefore do not want my students training looking in a mirror. Or if they do it, for brief periods of time, to check if their form conforms to the image in their mind's eye, of their teacher (actually, one thing I sometimes do is stand in front of a mirror or window beside my student, and do the movement with them, so they can seem themselves AND me. But this is a rare teaching device).
5. So as for me, if a student came in the dojo with one of the admittedly quite handsome two-toned jo, I'd tell them to put it away, one for my perhaps old-fashioned aesthetics, but more important, because the intent, voiced here ("self-visual learner") is antithetical to proper learning.
Ellis Amdur
P.S. Course, you are not my student, so do what you - and your teacher wants

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