Complementary skills to jian/dao...

sabre, sword, spear, etc

Complementary skills to jian/dao...

Postby global village idiot » Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:06 am

I'm interested in your thoughts on an idea of mine, to the effect that engaging in a sport like racquetball or tennis might be complementary to working with a jian or a dao.

Not long ago I was introduced to the concept of "flow" as a mental state. The wikipedia link below is a good primer:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

Tai chi is excellent for achieving this state; however, I wonder if doing something rather more active - especially something that requires the same level of focus and awareness as tai chi - might complement or enhance practice of our more meditative art.

Does anyone here do anything like this? If there's a different activity along the same lines, I'd be grateful to hear your experience of it as well!

Cheers,
gvi
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Re: Complementary skills to jian/dao...

Postby fchai » Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:18 am

Greetings,
The only comment I would make is the matter of the wrist. Any sport that tends to require a stiffish wrist may quite possibly result in a detrimental effect on the effective use of the jian or dao. A sport like badminton might be more complementary, as there is greater flexibility in the use of the wrist. I've known folks who play tennis and squash (a form of racquet ball) and they typically seem to have very inflexible wrists. They also seem quite sensitive to jujitsu wrist holds. Lol. But then I'm a little double-jointed. However, others may have a different view.
Take care,
Frank
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Re: Complementary skills to jian/dao...

Postby DPasek » Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:11 pm

GVI,

If you are using racket sports for an analogous “flow state” or “being in the zone” type of experience, then it is probably OK. But the dynamics of how one uses a jian or dao for TJQ are different than swinging a racket! Training racket sports will not be analogous to Taiji jian or dao (although it would be closer to some dao techniques than it would be for most jian techniques).

I do agree with Frank about the wrist, but there are other factors to also consider.

Rackets are typically used with a kinetic chain that includes a windup and a follow-through, and the contact with a ball is brief. This is perhaps similar to martial arts that emphasize striking from non-contact range.

But TJQ emphasizes from-contact interactions, typically gaining control of the opponent and using their actions to expose vulnerabilities to counterattack. Both a windup and a follow-through present times when the performer is weakly positioned, and in an awkward position from which to change in response to a constantly changing situation. Not good when in contact with an opponent.

A tennis drop shot would be closer to what we would want than would be a forehand or backhand volley. But even the dynamics of a tennis drop shot are somewhat different than using a jian or dao. In brief, think about a jian or dao being used to cut or slice across an opponent’s flesh during contact, rather than just impacting the opponent (as the racket usually does to a ball). In addition, the defense prior to the counterattack needs to be strong and controlled, and is not free to swing away like a racket used in sports would be.
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Re: Complementary skills to jian/dao...

Postby global village idiot » Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:11 pm

In your opinion, would doing both simultaneously tend to mitigate the effect?

Considering I've never done either squash, handball, racquetball or tennis with any seriousness - and not at all within the last 20 years - I'm almost inclined to think that my practice of dao/jian thus far might have the greater influence on the racquetball than the other way 'round :wink:

gvi

[edited to add] Only goal of the racket sport is the 'flow' state in a faster environment. I'm too old to go to EDM concerts and there's even less overlap there. I don't really think that being good at a racket sport will make me a better swordsman except insofar as I'll have greater facility with entering into and staying in that 'flow' state.
Which raises the question - if the racket sport is truly deleterious for the purpose I want, what would be a good substitute? That is, some activity with equal vigor that I wouldn't look like a creepy chaperone being seen at?
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Re: Complementary skills to jian/dao...

Postby DPasek » Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:44 pm

I am not all that familiar with the “flow state”. I think that in sports, as well as in TJQ, it would depend on being so proficient at what you are doing that you do not need to spend the extra concentration on yourself, and therefore can instead be “in the moment.” If so, then practicing your form until the extra concentration is no longer distracting, and then speed it up...

Proficiency in TJQ with or without weapons works on different skills than sports do, although I think that it is good to maintain fitness, and being athletic seems beneficial. Some things seem to benefit both, but you would need to clearly know the similarities and differences in order for them to benefit each other.

For jian or dao practice, going out in the woods and cutting invasive species of plants may do the trick. Where I live there are invasive Russian Olive shrubs that are quick growing, difficult to destroy (their roots will survive to send up new plants...), are thin enough to cut with one swing... As long as you are safe when swiftly moving around swinging a sharp machete, then something like this may work for you.
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Re: Complementary skills to jian/dao...

Postby global village idiot » Mon Aug 14, 2017 10:12 pm

Here's a good primer on the "Flow State." I find the name of the psychologist who described it to be nearly unpronounceable, and I come from a region that's lousy with Eastern Europeans. Good luck with it but the rest of the essay is approachable and easy-to-understand.

https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/m ... r-of-flow/

Maybe I should explain myself further.

I've realized I've been passingly familiar with this "flow state" for some time without really understanding what it is. It's been mostly in the form of those moments at work when I'm completely engrossed in a difficult-but-enjoyable task that requires my complete attention.

In my studio we don't do full-speed, full-contact sparring. Great for focusing on attention to detail, Ting Jin and so forth. But real-world punches, knives and baseball bats don't travel at 20% speed.

Short of full-contact sparring with empty hands or weapons (which I'm not quite ready for), or high-tempo sports like basketball (which doesn't appeal to me), it's somewhat difficult to recreate the sort of immediate awareness and focus necessary to sword or empty-hand fighting.

I understand that the physical skills necessary to being any good at racket sports are different from those of swordsmanship; but the truth is I'm not keen to take it up for the physical skills of wielding the racket. Frankly, I couldn't care less about it except insofar as that's what you play the game with.

My interest has therefore to do with the tempo of the sport, and the awareness/reflexes/agility necessary to react in a disciplined manner to things happening very fast. Basically, I'm approaching racket sport (if it is the proper venue) more as a mental exercise than a physical one.

gvi
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Re: Complementary skills to jian/dao...

Postby global village idiot » Tue Aug 15, 2017 6:21 am

As to work with a machete...

That's part of the reason I started learning dao.

I use a machete at work. I'm pretty good with it, though a proper G.I. machete from the Ontario Knife Company balances altogether differently from my dao.

Naw, the idea is to treat the sport as a mental exercise only. I can't think of anything besides racket sports that is as fast-paced and demanding of focus as a sword duel, while at the same time being safer than getting run through.

gvi
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Re: Complementary skills to jian/dao...

Postby sky_chi » Tue Aug 15, 2017 8:08 pm

global village idiot wrote:My interest has therefore to do with the tempo of the sport, and the awareness/reflexes/agility necessary to react in a disciplined manner to things happening very fast.


In my experience, the sport that most reliably induces flow state is skydiving. :)
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Re: Complementary skills to jian/dao...

Postby global village idiot » Mon Sep 25, 2017 4:43 pm

That just figures...

My last jump was 8 December 1989 and it - like all my previous ones - was static-line.

My ears are sufficiently jacked up that the notion of reaching terminal velocity from 10k feet, with the change in pressure this implies - appeals to me about as much as taking a dip in a bathtub full of spiders.

gvi
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