Tuesday, 19 October 2010

If I had a pound.......

If I had a pound for every time a martial arts instructor has told me I'm leaning forward when doing kihon or kata moves I'd be a very rich woman by now!
I have been told this by several instructors now so it is obviously a persistent problem. Unfortunately, I don't realise I'm doing it. I don't feel as if I'm leaning forward and when people straighten me up I feel as if my back is hyper extended!
When I'm teaching others I can see the same problem in some of them. In fact I got my young white belts to do some kihon with a bean bag on their head to stop them leaning! However, seeing the same problem in others doesn't seem to help me correct it in myself (perhaps I should try the bean bag trick!).
When I make a big effort not to lean forward when, say, doing an oi zuki, I make an error with my foot or hand position because I'm thinking about my back. Naturally Sensei notices the hand or foot error but doesn't seem to notice that on that occasion my back was straight! (Is there no justice in the world?)
Other errors that I have made along the way have been much easier to correct but this one seems pretty intractable at the moment. I feel very frustrated by this because it must seem like I'm just not listening or taking on board the criticism. I am, I just can't seem to correct it.
I went on a course last Saturday and lo'and behold my 'leaning' was pointed out at least four times. One instructor suggested that I try holding back the shoulder of my hikete arm more and stretch out my 'guard' arm a little further. Well, I will try this, it may work.
Do you have a specific problem with an aspect of your technique that seems intractable at the moment? How do you try to deal with it? Any tips for curing my 'leaning' problem?
If I don't sort this one out soon I may just have to start charging a pound for every time someone tells me........I may as well be a rich 'leaner' than a poor one!
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Littlefair said...

Now....I'm not saying I've cracked it either but...I like to visualise myself 'sitting down' more, or tucking my pelvis under (a bit like squeezing in your bum cheeks).

You might also think of pushing *just* your hips forward (although this is quite a small movement in reality, it's just enough to remind you).

If I'm conscious of leaning I can sometimes get into the bad habit of adjusting my back which just seems to be painful...which is why I tend to think of this 'sitting into it' idea.

Any good?

Littlefair said...

PS..interesting trailer on dojorat's site about posture in Tai Chi:


Sue C said...

Hi Chris, this is a very useful way of thinking about it and it fits in well with things I've read, i.e moving from the hips and moving forward in a horizontal plane. I'll give it a go! There are just so many things to think about - you wouldn't think moving could be so difficult! Thanks for the tip.

Journeyman said...

I don't even have any advice for you. I'm fairly tall and my Sensei always scolds me for leading with me head. I tend to move my head forward and down. I've been tagged in the head enough times that I should know better, but some bad habits are pretty deeply engrained.

Keep me posted if any of the things you try stick. Good luck.

fishface said...


fishface said...

just think head up and chest out.
Practice your technique with no power until its fixed then add power slowly making sure its from the hips. too much emphasis on powere tend to involve the shoulders. Correst hip posiition in your initial kamae combined with the corresct shoulder / arm position should help alot. Possible problem with the way you transfer weight as this can often lead to a lean. as at first you concentrate on the technique ie kata positions as a series of photos if you like. later on the transition between the photos is more important. smooth transitions are key to your movements.

Ninjutsu Training said...

For me, I've tried being mindful of an "imaginary line" that runs up and down my body. The thing is, you have to try to remember about this "line" or "string" during most of your training, which can be hard; however, it does help!

Sue C said...

Hi fishface, Actually thinking about the hips more (as Littlefair also suggested) is helping quite a lot. There's just so much to think about all at the same time! Thanks for the advice.

Ninja, Using a bit of visual imagery can be useful. We use the idea of being held up straight by a piece of string with the kids sometimes - maybe I should apply it to myself as well! Thanks for the tip.

etali said...

I feel your pain! My problem is that I'm too 'square' and 'short'. My hips don't move when I punch, and everything is too short. When I get pulled into the 'correct' position for a punch I feel like my arms are going to pop out of my sockets, and like my spine is going to snap from the twisting!

I think for me it's a perception problem. I'm quite short, with narrow shoulders, so I think I need to exaggerate what I'm doing in order to please the grading panel (who don't see me regularly, so they aren't used to my proportions).

As for the leaning thing, I find if I force myself to look straight ahead, I don't lean. Of course if you're doing a downblock and supposed to be looking where the block goes, that doesn't help, but it does stop me leaning into step/reverse punches.

Sue C said...

Etali, that hip twist thing - it takes a while to get that one! The problem is women move their hips differently to men and even what we think of as hips is different to what men think of as hips. A hip twist should involve the whole koshi region (from bottom of ribs to below the buttocks). You need to tense all of this region and push it through as a single unit as you make the punch (its more a thrust than a twist). This is why you need to hold back the shoulder and hip so much at the beginning of the punch. Don't worry, it takes ages for anyone to get this right! Happy training.


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