Monday, May 15, 2006

Spring Training

Now that a long wet winter has passed, it’s nice to get outside and enjoy the warmth of the sun again. (My apologies to those up in New England these past few days!)

The indoor season was a great time to practice short sticks, knives and empty hands, but with the burst of greenery and blue skies, it definitely feels like time to get outside. That means more space to move in, and major muscle groups wanting to stretch and work out.

The two things I’ve brought out are the short staff (jo and hanbo) and the whip. I like short staves because they can be found daily as canes, walking sticks/hiking staffs, umbrellas, etc. Whips help visualizing extension of energy and focusing placement.

Staff can be practiced in smaller spaces than whips. Last week was a small class on Wednesday night, so we worked on staff indoors, then I went through the same material again on Friday outdoors. I couldn’t work whip with more than one beginner at a time in either space due to safety considerations.

Serrada movement is compact and tight. Sometimes the body wants to open and stretch. There is as much subtlety in long movement as in short. Knowing both expands your range and repertoire. Movement for health, such as in Yoga or Yang style tai chi, is usually expansive to experience and facilitate the flow of energy. Tighten it down, compact that energy, and it speeds up and becomes combative.

It’s a continuum, so there’s overlap. What’s good is to take something you know and rework it to the opposite end of its functional range, like a musician jamming on a riff seeking new variations to the theme.

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