Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mid-Body Control from the Mid-Finland Perspective

I'm glad that in my line of work I also get to travel around and see the world. Last summer I was in Hamar, Norway for couple of weeks training Theatrical Fencing in a workshop organized by the Nordic Stage Fight Society.

Me and the actor Elmer Bäck performing our Broadsword scene.

The beginning of this year I found myself in Kuopio, a city with ca. 90 000 inhabitants located in Middle-Finland. Kuopio is known for its ski jumping activities among many other things! One of these are its well organized martial arts activities, hence Kuopio has many practitioners training various Eastern and Western styles!

I had the chance to come teach Acrobatic Body Control (ABC) for the Tenchikan aikido club. We agreed that the first time would be an introduction class, and only after that we would talk about the future trainings. After all, I can never tell beforehand whether ABC is good for them or not, so better try it out first! :D

I was happy to see that 22 brave adults came for my ABC class! Even one aikido gentleman from Helsinki who happened to be at that point in Kuopio decided to pay a visit to my class. Few weeks earlier I had taught his son when I had an ABC class for Akari aikido club's kids' group. What a nice coincidence, although I'm these days rarely surprised anymore how small this world can be, especially Finland :D

Sami Poutiainen, my contact person from Tenchikan Aikido club had done his work well, as most of the practitioners knew beforehand who I was. Yet, there were still few persons who didn't have any idea who I was which gave me a good excuse to give them a 3 minute presentation about who I was and why I was there :D I also mentioned my mentor H-P Virkki, as with his 25 years of experience in aikido training, he is well known and respected among the aikido people. After the class I was even asked to give H-P regards from Tenchikan aikido club! Well, I can only be grateful for H-P's personal achievements as the world looks so much more welcoming when standing on a giant's shoulders ;D

After the introduction speech I started the class with a warm-up routine. In addition of making people move their body to warm their muscles, I also ask them to make vocal sounds. This ensures that they are breathing consciously, and in addition it activates the body from within. And if people are not used to making vocal sounds during a warm-up it also has the effect of activating (or mixing) ones mind.

I believe that learning acrobatic techniques requires 80% of the mind's capacity and only 20% of the body, therefore freeing ones mind is essential in learning advanced body control. Please note, that this 80/20 rule is just a theoretical relation. Mastering acrobatic techniques still requires high-level physical skills. But like in any other physical discipline, a true Master is not known only for his/her physical skills.

Although ABC has the word acrobatic in it, its main focus is still in Body Control. And in my philosophy a normally functioning body CAN be controlled well at ANY age but how to get to that 'good body control level' varies between everyone. The feeling of having a 'good body control level' can still exist for two different persons at the same time, even though the other one can do a somersault and the other one can just walk in an ergonomic way. After all, there are many ways to get to a top of a mountain. Enjoying and learning from the climb (process) is the most rewarding experience at the end of the day :D

ABC focuses right from the beginning in developing the mid-body. Instead of just training the muscles e.g. doing lots of sit-ups, I use movement techniques that as a side-product strengthen the muscles surrounding the mid-body. In the introduction class I used walking techniques, two-legged bouncing techniques and movement techniques that required both arms and legs put on the ground. As I said in the beginning, ABC is difficult to explain. Even seeing someone doing it won't give much. Only trying it out yourself can you truly tell what it really is about ;D

Many of the techniques put some stress to the muscles around the hip bone, therefore I also emphasize the importance of stretching. Due to time issues I try to stretch mainly the muscles that are involved in the movement. Back muscles are used nearly in any kind of movement, therefore I always stretch them respectively.

1,5 hours went by fairly quickly. I enjoyed teaching the class, as I felt that all of the attendees had the right attitude for it. Attitude to constantly learn something new is what keeps people going forward (sometimes by first taking few steps backwards). And when I feel people really want to learn for the right reasons, I really want to give them as much as I think they can possible learn in such a short time.

I thank all the attendees for the warm welcome and for the great learning spirit! Hopefully, I'll be seeing the Kuopio's Tenchikan aikidokas again!

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for the exciting blog posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you are a brilliant writer. I actually added your blog to my favorites and will look forward for more updates. Great Job, Keep it up.. :)