Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Right foot forward

Today, I realized that my left foot needs a lot of work. We were doing spinning-back-kicks and I was pretty solid on my right foot, which is the one that we began with, but as soon as we switched stance, it was almost like I didn't know what to do with my body.

Generally, in a spinning-back-kick, you place you front foot directly in front of your back foot, pivot on the balls of your feet until you're in a backwards-facing forward stance, chamber (which is what it's called when you bring your knee up in front of you, in order to generate power and give your kick 'push'), look over your shoulder, and shoot your foot out behind you, into your target, striking with your heel. It's a very powerful kick, and, as Sensei said today, it's not really a spinning-kick, so you don't need a whole lot of rotation to get a good, solid hit.

Anyway, I was doing fine when we were working the right foot, but as soon as we switched, it felt foreign and strange and I started to over-think what I was doing. Sometimes, our minds can be our worst enemy. I've found that if you don't have your mind on your side, it's very unlikely that your body will do the things that you want it to do. I had to stop and center myself before I could continue, and once I recognized that my thoughts were causing me to be unable to execute the move, I was able to fix it and get back in the swing of things.

There are a few reasons why it was so difficult for me to do the spinning-back-kick, left-footed. One of those reasons is the age-old excuse that I'm right-footed, so naturally, my left foot is my weaker side and requires more thought and work to train. I heard a saying once that says, "Train your non-dominant side twice as hard, so that you can make up for the lack of coordination." It's hard to do that, sometimes, because it's discouraging to see what your kick CAN look like, having been executed from your dominant side, and then switching to your non-dominant side and seeing how much work you really need.

It's also hard to do that because at any time that we're put into a situation where we have to react in a way that we're not used to, it's extremely uncomfortable. Not only that, but we take for granted the more familiar way of doing things and therefore often don't prepare for a situation where we might not have the luxury of doing the familiar thing. We get into a way of thinking that says, "I shouldn't ever have to use such a technique" or "I shouldn't have to worry about what it's like to not be able to use my right foot, so there's no reason to focus much on the other side".

There are any number of situations that could disable a right foot. My left foot shouldn't be something to fall back on (no pun intended). I need to train both of my feet so that either one could deliver the blow that I might need to save my life or the life of someone I love.

As for the other side of the equation...sometimes no amount of preparation can keep your mind on your side. At the point where we've become discouraged with ourselves, there begins a cycle of doubt, frustration, and general negativity. The best thing to do, I think, is to step away from the situation for a moment, recognize that you're frustrated, realize that your mind is holding you back, and try to get it to work with you. It's easy to be discouraged. It's hard to give yourself encouragement in spite of that fact.

So, at this point, I'm gonna start practicing from right-bow-stance. Put my left foot forward, instead of my right. Eventually, whichever foot is forward will be my best foot forward.

Martial arts is swiftly going to make me better by forcing me to do the hard things. I can live with that.
(And  someday, I might live because of that!)

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