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Old 10-06-2011, 09:26 AM   #1
Dojo: Shobu of Boston
Location: Cambridge, MA
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 14
Focal points for solo training

Hi all

I've been trolling this forum for a while now as I become increasingly curious about IS and training. My teachers have introduced me to a number of solo exercises, and I've found the information on this forum very helpful in directing my focus when doing these exercises. I was thinking it would be cool to have a thread-repository for different exercises and their respective points of interest to help people delve deeper in their practice. For example, a few that I've been working on include:

1. Sumo shiko

(aunkai version, not necessarily the best example, but it shows the basic form)

first level (as I understand it):
learning to keep ones balance medial to the standing leg by counter balancing within the 'frame'. One arm should stay up, while the other points out to the side. Then you use the raised arm to shift your weight back over when you want to smoothly settle back into original horse stance.

2nd level (as I understand it):
learning to tip over while winding/spiraling the whole body. Recently i discovered that by winding as I tip over, I can send energy down to my hanging foot by counter-winding my raised arm. this creates the feeling of me "pushing down" back into the ground as I settle back into the original horse stance. this is also coupled to an appropriately timed exhale. I often spend time just staying on one side for an extended period of time to study how spiraling allows me to maintain balance while I rotate sideways.

i think there's alot of other things to be said, particularly about opening/closing the kua as well as the rest of the body, but i'm not advanced enough yet to really articulate it, hence my motivation for starting this thread.

3rd level:
doing this with someone pushing on your shoulder. the idea is that you should be able to slip under them, thereby 'pushing back' without actually needing to lean into them (which, i understand, is a primary application for sumo wrestlers about to be pushed out of the ring)

2. "Winding"

Not necessarily the best title, but its what we call it at my dojo. I cant find a video of this one, but i would describe it as standing in a moderate horse stance with arms extended out to the sides, feet a little more than shoulder width apart, and correct vertical posture. you then use a firm connection to the ground to send spiral energy from feet, transmitted through hara, and out the finger tips. the arms appear to twist in opposite directions without bending any joints. one of my teacher says its like holding two coke cans and dumping them out in opposite directions. there is a feeling of moving one's "meat" around one's "bones" in that one is trying to minimize the overt movements during this practice.

1st level:
maintaining correct vertical posture, closing one knee while opening the other and correspondingly opening one kua while closing the other (without sacrificing the frame, allowing hips to move, etc), turning at the waist (e.g. twisting with hara / dan tien), and finally winding the hands in opposite directions with the palm of one hand ending up face-up and the other face-down corresponding to the closed knee / open kua and open knee / closed kua, respectively. for each iteration of this, one inhales to spiral/wind on one side, then exhales back into neutral position, then inhales into winding on the other side. while your shoulders will rotate about the spine to a certain extent, this is only a consequence of the core twisting movements.

2nd level:
I'm not really beyond the above level 1, but it seems to be about increasingly subtle core movements. there's the horizontal component of twisting/spiraling about the spine, and then there's the idea of picking up the hara/dantien and dropping it on the other side. I think this relates to opening/closing of the rib cage, but thats beyond me at this point. at the moment, i'm really limited by my ability to selectively control different muscle groups.

3rd level:
doing this with someone pushing on your chest. you can break their balance and move them around you. the objective is to change the angle of contact without 'moving the point' of contact. this leads to some pretty fun kokyu nage type applications.

Ultimately it seems that the same stuff shows up over and over in the various solo exercises. Its been very interesting for me to discover how different aspects of IS (spiraling, opening/closing, etc) show up at different points along the progression of practicing these solo exercises.

There are a bunch of other exercises I've been shown that I can contribute to this thread later, assuming anyone is interested. I know this is really basic stuff, but I'm a complete novice, so this is the best I can offer and stand to benefit greatly from such a discussion. I find different perspectives to be invaluable for learning this stuff.
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