Sunday, August 27, 2006

The shell revisited

Saturday's class presented a new challenge for me. Trying to do backward rolls without any momentum means that i have to try and breath life into the muscles i have insulated under a protective layer of donuts and cookies over my stomach.

The two new people showed for class and they did alright.

Glad i got to make it since i've been out for a couple of weeks.

1 comment:

Patrick Parker said...

It is amazing how an exercise as simple as the backroll can provide so much to learn at so many levels. As you get better and better, slowing sown and reducing momentum allows you to explore the motion in greater detail. It's cool how the slower you go the more you learn.

But on the other hand you can slow down to the point that it is impossible to do the move. This is similar to the "paralysys by analysis" syndrome. I once saw a friend (now a 4th dan) standing still in the middle of a mat looking perplexed. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was trying to figure out how to do the first technique of tegatana (a forward step). He'd decided it was not possible and all of a sudden he couldn't move. Literal paralysis by analysis. I've also seen aikidoka who would stop and start over any time they recognized any mistake in their performance. They ended up having a hell of a time going anywhere.

This idea of paralysis by analysis applies to tha back roll too. Go ahead and add in enough momentum to be able to practice the thing without TOO much frustration. Then as you build coordination and confidence and muscle, begin reducing the momentum gradually. It's okay. It really is.

As you progress you should slow it down to whatever level it takes to make you fail about half the time. If you are failing half the time then you are working at your edge. Every time I demonstrate a backroll from dead still in front of the class I wonder if I will succeed. If you don't feel some sense of doubt in the middle of this exercise, you're not learning.