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Old 08-08-2014, 08:40 PM   #1
Peter Boylan
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How essential is timing, and how do you develop it?

I finally put together another blog post, and this one looks at timing and how to develop it.
It's at
http://budobum.blogspot.com/2014/08/...s-in-budo.html

How do you train to develop your sense of timing?

Peter Boylan
Mugendo Budogu LLC
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Old 08-11-2014, 07:50 AM   #2
Adam Huss
 
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Re: How essential is timing, and how do you develop it?

We had a good experience of training sen no sen at a seminar this weekend. It's a seminar where multiple martial arts instructors are invited and it was neat seeing teachers from karate, aikido, Iaido, and jujitsu all teach from a common theme of sen.

Ichi Go, Ichi Ei!
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Old 08-11-2014, 08:09 AM   #3
lbb
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Re: How essential is timing, and how do you develop it?

My sensei says that "when" is most important, "where" comes next and "what" is a rather distant third.
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Old 08-11-2014, 08:30 PM   #4
Adam Huss
 
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Re: How essential is timing, and how do you develop it?

Quote:
Mary Malmros wrote: View Post
My sensei says that "when" is most important, "where" comes next and "what" is a rather distant third.
Do you physically drill those concepts as well?

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Old 08-12-2014, 07:13 AM   #5
phitruong
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Re: How essential is timing, and how do you develop it?

Quote:
Adam Huss wrote: View Post
Do you physically drill those concepts as well?
yes. you can practice on intercept the attack at different time, from the point when uke thinking of the attack, until when the attack touch you and every when in between. sort of playing with uke's OODA loop. you make uke stutter his/her/it attack to all the way when uke thought he/she/it has you dead on, then you phase-shift and disappear. time, distance and intent tied together. they are equally important. 3 points of the triangle. to master you need to practice cutting into a buffet line.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 08-12-2014, 07:24 AM   #6
lbb
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Re: How essential is timing, and how do you develop it?

Quote:
Adam Huss wrote: View Post
Do you physically drill those concepts as well?
I dislike the word "drill", but yes (I'm tempted to say "...obviously, otherwise what's the point of talking about it?").
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Old 08-12-2014, 09:05 AM   #7
NagaBaba
 
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Re: How essential is timing, and how do you develop it?

Quote:
Peter Boylan wrote: View Post
I finally put together another blog post, and this one looks at timing and how to develop it.
It's at
http://budobum.blogspot.com/2014/08/...s-in-budo.html

How do you train to develop your sense of timing?
I like your articles about different aspects of training. While I agree with many statements, I don't think timing is simple. One of the reasons is that you can't separate it from the concept of space around you and the openings in attacker posture. Without owning space around you, you can't move most effectively.

Owning space take a lot of training, so can't reasonably teach timing very early in the body development, beginner students have always wrong timing because of that. Another aspect is opening (entering in perfect timing if there is no opening, is not very helping…) -- even if you explain clearly with examples in slow motion, their perception is not yet there.

Eyes or touch sense develops slowly….Another point supporting these that timing is not simple; it must be practiced with weapons. You can see huge difference in timing skills between somebody with long history of weapons training (under good teacher of course) and somebody who never touched any weapon. In this case it is even impossible to explain them some basic timing aspects (early timing, late timing, just-in-time timing)

I'm curious, what kind of exercises you do to improve timing?

Nagababa

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Old 08-12-2014, 10:10 AM   #8
Keith Larman
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Re: How essential is timing, and how do you develop it?

I have been hesitating to post because I think this is really a "down the rabbit" hole discussion. But I'll give it a shot...

First off, I agree completely with everything Szczepan wrote up above (I will add that weapons work doesn't guarantee that timing *and* there are those without weapons work with the same amazing ability, but that clarification isn't I think really much to argue about anyway).

But I think his discussion highlights something that I think is really critical to understanding timing. And his question about how to train for it cuts right to the core of the problem.

Using one of the examples given in the article, a simple foot sweep is anything but. Yeah, we can comprehend it on an intellectual level, but your comments about timing (weight transferring but not yet connected) raise more questions in my mind really. How do we learn about that exact moment? Is it by watching? Or is it by "feeling". And that's where it gets complicated to me. And that's where I think I start to quibble with the use of the word timing... Because I think that sends *some* people in the wrong direction.

Going back a long time ago when I trained in Judo as a teenager (bell bottoms were in if that helps). I remember watching two very experienced guys training. A senior member came over and sat down next to me. I think he liked talking with me because I was always curious, always asking questions, and he joked that he could tell when I was puzzled because I would turn my head like his dog watching a treat (and fwiw I catch myself doing that even today -- I guess that's my "tell"). Anyway, I was watching then work on leg sweeps. My comment as I remember it was that their timing was great. The reason I remember this is the old guy laughed, slapped me on the back and said timing had nothing to do with it. I argued the point because if the timing isn't right you can't do it, but these guys seemed to always time it just right. He said that they get it right because they can feel when it will work and feel when it won't. And that has nothing to do with timing.

That conversation stuck with me over the years. Yes, the timing has to be perfect. But maybe the timing has nothing to do with "learning the timing" as much as "feeling" the ebb and flow of a technique. In other words, the "time" to sweep the foot is when you "know" they're vulnerable.

So then the question becomes how to learn when someone else is vulnerable. In Judo (and Aikido) you have the advantage generally of being directly engaged as things happen. With sufficient and correct training you can learn how to "feel" the attacker's balance, connection, etc. directly through their connection to you (and you obviously use all your other senses as well -- we always seem to want to separate senses and as a guy who is significantly hard of hearing I think that's probably a mistake -- a discussion for another time however). So how does this happen? What can we do to facilitate this? How do we train our students in the same? By teaching them how to feel the structure of the attacker through whatever connection you have available.

So this will veer off in to a lot of other areas so I'll end it now.

And "No", I don't think this is the only way or the only thing. Just a major part of it.

To me the problem with someone trying to "learn" timing is that they are focused on something that *is* accurate and correct. However, learning how to "hit it" right at the correct moment isn't really so much about timing. Back to the old guy's comment... It's not so much that the timing is correct (it is, of course), it's being able to comprehend *when* that moment has arrived or is about to arrive. When you feel the balance tipping. When you feel the attacker floating. If you can't feel that, yeah, maybe timing is the way to go (by that I mean a focus on the idea that at *this* point in the technique the attacker should be off his center). But that approach seems to be like looking for a way of *approximating* when something is happening rather than training to figure out how to *know* that thing is happening.

That's why I think there are many folk out there who are absolutely fantastic when training with their own students. The timing, rhythms, etc. are all there, known, and in many ways predetermined. And it is a form of collusion, but in a very subtle and insidious sense. I'm vastly more impressed when I see someone pull off a technique cleanly with someone from outside their group.

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Old 08-12-2014, 10:53 AM   #9
lbb
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Re: How essential is timing, and how do you develop it?

To what Szczepan and Keith said: I wonder if this isn't similar to the old show biz adage about success resulting from being in the right place at the right time ("where" and "when") -- to which you can add "...fully prepared." Is an opening still an opening if you don't recognize it -- or if you do recognize it, but don't own the space, and so can't take advantage of it? Hey, I hear trees falling in the forest...
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Old 08-12-2014, 11:38 AM   #10
Keith Larman
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Re: How essential is timing, and how do you develop it?

To hopefully be as clear as possible, there is a bit of semantic sleight of hand going on with these discussions. And I'm trying to point out that there are subtle meanings involved and if we're not careful we can find ourselves wandering off in the wrong direction in pursuit of something that was never there.

Mary, I like your statement about "being prepared". And you started with the right time and right place. Okay, no question about it. So *how* do we know the right time? *How* do we know the right place? I think if we drill down a bit to specifics (again using the leg sweep as an example) I can yell "sweep the leg" so loudly my forehead will furrow in to the cobra kai logo. We agree it has to be done at the right time, in the right place, with proper form. But that seems almost tautological to me -- the correct way to do it is to do it correctly. Yeah, that and $5 will get you a cup at starbucks (BTW, I don't drink that crap -- just took my kid out and she wanted something -- good lord, do people buy that stuff all the time? I was going to have some tea but man... Sorry, I digress...). So we start to talk about doing it with the right timing. And I think the danger is that people think of timing much like they think of "correct" timing in the sense of the beat of a song, or the timing from a metronome. So "click, click, click, CLICK!". So we go on the fourth click. We try to find some sort of rhythm to the movement yet we don't do a good job of explaining where that rhythm comes from and what "drives" the rhythm.

It seems to me one solution is what I see in styles like demonstrated by Tissier. Large, sweeping movements that essentially "enforce" the timing. That I understand more or less on the same level I understood Judo way back when. But if I think of the Judo those older guys were doing, well, they were old school. And it wasn't about strength (although have no question -- they were strong). Their timing seemed to be related not to what they were doing but an exquisite sensitivity to what was going on in the body of their competitor. And this was done through a vastly more relaxed, soft touch because at the same time they were trying to hide the same information from the other. When we start to think of this type of thing, this type of subtle kuzushi and control, is "timing" really the issue any longer? I would argue that timing is actually the wrong word entirely because it's more about control. To those watching it *looks* like timing. Sometimes it even looks bogus. But I can guarantee you that those older guys could put me on the ground time and time again even though I had 30 fewer years of mileage and probably 20-30 pounds more muscle.

I try to avoid the word. Because I think if you're doing things correctly then there is no issue of timing. Yeah, again, a bit of semantic juggling here, and certainly "timing" it wrong is deadly. But I don't want to look at it as an issue of timing, but one of openings, closings, entering, turning, moving, all while feeling everything going on with the attacker so I can get all those things right. Then it's not really timing. Just doing it. And in the highest levels being able to do it when you want. By affecting them by your touch, movement, whatever and leaving them nothing to work with.

And when I talk about that sort of thing I'm reminded of stories of great martial artists going on the mat with people like O-sensei, Mifune, Takeda, et al. And their comments that they didn't have opening, they *knew* on the touch that they had already lost. I think that's where stories like that come from. Two people who are atuned to these things. One realizing they're outmatched already.

Insert obligatory scene from 7 Samurai here of the swordsman going up against the ruffian in the beginning of the movie. "It's obvious".

Enough from me.

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Old 08-12-2014, 03:33 PM   #11
phitruong
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Re: How essential is timing, and how do you develop it?

many many moons ago, when i was young and stupid, i took up karate with my best friend, under the tulage of an old Okinawan. it was a regular practice that at the end of the class, sensei would pick one of us to spar to test our skill. one day, at the end of the class, sensei pointed to my best friend. he bounced up all hyper and ready to go. they squared up at one step to kicking distance, i.e. it would take either person to take one full step to deliver a kick to target. regular kumite distance. then i saw sensei just step forward and kick my friend in the ass while my friend just stood there. i was howling in laughter and mentioned "slow poke!". sensei waved my friend to sitdown and pointed to me. i bounced up from seiza and hyped up and ready to go. we squared up. so i was thinking that if he even make a twitch, i would flew backward like a bat out of hell and be long gone before sensei got there. that was my plan. it was a good plan. i saw sensei slightly lower his shoulders. i executed the plan, both legs uncoiled to send my body flying backward. as my body lifting off the floor, a leg came out of nowhere and kicked me in the ass. my friend howled in laughter at the sideline. sensei looked at me with the amused look to match my astonished look. my friend said "slow poke!". my friend told me that i just stood there and sensei just walked up and kicked me in the ass.

i was younger, faster, and stronger (farm boy) than sensei. not to mention sensei had to take a long step to cross the distance to kick me. to this day, i still puzzled how he did that.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 08-26-2014, 04:29 PM   #12
Robert Cowham
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Re: How essential is timing, and how do you develop it?

I agree with Keith on the sensitivity thing - subtle awareness. I love the videos of Mifune (10th dan Judo).

But there's also a balance thing - the body being totally balanced and able to move without any unnecessary stuff. Classic thing is in kenjutsu, where if you want to move to the left, people generally start by putting their front foot to the right of the center line. Can be quite effective, but it isn't half as good as the ability just to move left - which is pretty challenging as I know well. Simiarlaly if you have right foot forward in hanmi stance, can you easily step with a) front foot (usually easiest), b) back foot, c) step out to left with back foot and switch front foot so it becomes back foot. All at the same time as making in appropriate strike with sword. This is balance and weight distribution and re-understanding what these things mean.

There is something in terms of speed of movement too, for example with weapons. And yet with someone like Inaba sensei, it doesn't seem that he moves fast, but it is perfectly balanced and with just the right timing. Part of this is the sensation that he has already connected to you before either of you have moved - he seems to know what you are doing before you do.
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