忍耐 + 掌握人生
Training & Mental Practice
So What's Been Happening?
What a jam-packed, exciting and bustling life for me in the past few weeks! The mid-semester exams have started 2 weeks ago, with the first being Biomechanics. Last week was Anatomy Practical exam.
I got my biomechanics results back yesterday and I ranked 3rd out of 147 physiotherapy students. So I am quite excited about that. It is certainly be a big motivator for me to study harder.
Tomorrow it will be biochemistry exam and next Thursday will be Neuroscience exam. So wish me luck! :D
With the busy and intense university schedule which coincided with various other recent special events, my kendo training frequency has suffered somewhat. I have only been able to train once a week in the past month on Monday night at UNSW. Yes, it has been frustrating, but I must learn to keep my spirit up, and utilise the limited training time to the maximum.
Although I haven't been able to train in a dojo, I have been watching some kendo videos. With the strong insistence of my friends to upload some more personal kendo videos on to YouTube, I have uploaded the following three. They are recorded during the 2004 and 2007 Nippon Sport Science University's Japanese Martial Arts Demonstration in Sydney.
I particularly like the 2004 video clips, and I refer to it as my kendo encyclopedia, with all different basic cuts and waza, in slow-motion and full speed. The thing I get inspired the most is that the students all perform every waza so straight, so nicely. The uchikomi-geiko is executed with big, straight, correct cuts - speed and power without compromising posture.
2004 Nittaidai Demo - Part 1
2004 Nittaidai Demo - Part 2
2007 Nittaidai Demo
In the past month training inside the dojo, I have been specifically focusing on:
- Suriage-men - I am slowly getting the hang on this waza now. So at training I am trying to practice as much as possible to reinforce the feeling within me.
- Gyaku-do - Yes, it is something special and different for me. I was inspired after watching a couple of kendo videos, and wanted to master this technique and use it in surprise situation. At the moment, I am having some trouble getting the shinai out after executing the gyaku-do when I use it as an oji-waza. When I use it as shikake-waza, I need to experiment better on how to seme in to create a reaction from my opponents. So still in the trial and error phase for me with gyaku-do.
Night Training in the Park
I have also been going to the local park after my study late at night to exercise and keep my fitness up. I love it when it is completely dark with only the moon and stars shining above. It gives me a sense of peacefulness and a time to reflect after a day of busy schedule.
My normal routine at the park is to jog 10 times around the sports field to keep my cardio fitness up. Afterwards, I do ashi-sabaki training - suriashi, okuriashi, lunges over and over again, along the length of the football field side line. By the end of this ashi-sabaki session, my legs would be quite exhausted. So then, I go into suburi and visualisation training.
Anyway, after I finish writing this entry, I will go to the park for a jog and enjoy the beautiful Autumn night in the Southern Hemisphere.
Talking about visualisation, I recently gave a presentation at the university about the power of mental practice in enhancing performance. Coincidentally, there was a thread on the Kendo World Forum which was about mental practice, so I wrote a little bit of what I have learnt in my research project on this area. The thread is http://www.kendo-world.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13769&page=3
Here is what I wrote...
"Mental practice is a fascinating and exciting technique. One of the major explanations for how mental practice works is using the neuromuscular hypothesis.
When you mentally imaging an action without active physical movement, it actually triggers physiological response in the body. One of the way to measure this is using EMG (Electromyography), which measures the muscle activities.
Researches have found that during mental practice WITHOUT any active physical movement, the brain actually sends electrical signal, through the neuromotor pathways, to the effecting muscles. The researchers were able to record spinal reflex activities and also EMG activities in the muscle groups responsible for the particular action you are imaging.
As a result of this priming of the neuromotor pathways, mental practice can help establish and reinforce appropriate coordination, and ultimately enhance performance....
In several major experiments on the topic of mental practice, researchers have found a couple of very interesting points, which we might incorporate these ideas into our own kendo training.
- Internal / external imagery - internal imagery (imaging from 1st person point of view) is better than external imagery (from an observer point of view). More electromyographic activities are recorded during internal imagery.
- Behavioural vs Environmental Focus - focus on behaviour (such as muscle tension, palmar sweat) elicits more physiological response than focus on the physical environment (such as where things are).
To be effective in mental training, you must be quite focused and aroused to get the maximal benefit.
So if you are half falling asleep, you may not get the maximum benefit of mental training. To get a good result, you should be quite focused and mentally aroused to 'feel' how your perfect ippon is like - how the tip of the shinai transmits that really nice feeling to your arms and body, the feel of that strong and beautiful fumikomi, the loud and spirited kiai, the perfect ippon BAMMMM sound on the target, the fluid motion of your cut, the perfect zanshin after the ippon. These are the things you may like to try imaging yourself, and best when you set a nice and quiet place to allow you to focus on it."
So until the next entry, I hope this will leave something interesting for us all to consider and incorporate into our own training.