The draw

Drawing the blade can be a martial art like Japanese 居合 or a simple task we perform while preparing a meal for the family. Lets play with drawing in particular so we can better integrate it into the work.

  1. Place the knife in front of you and close your eyes. Take it in one hand and place it in the sheath and then draw it back out. Repeat for each hand while facing the blade and with your sides and back to the blade. If you reach with your eyes, you engage a lot of yourself. When you reach with your awareness, you are less committed and more free.
  2. Place the blade in its sheath and on your body (belt, underarm, vest or other carry method) and roll on the ground forward and backward and side to side. Notice how you shift your movement with the blade on you and notice others moving in a compensation patterns as well.
  3. Lie on the ground with your blade on you and with your breath leading, draw and return the blade with each hand and then repeat the movement slower with a breath hold and with your eyes closed.
  4. Repeat the previous drill while gently rolling on the ground. Note that your eyes can either go to the knife operation or work with your body movement. Choose wisely.
  5. Tie a rope to a limb and walk around. Have a partner tug on the rope as you draw and resheath the blade. Note your breathing and tension in your body. Use your body to spread the pull and ride the wave of it.
  6. Repeat the previous drill while rolling on the ground. Relax your eye horizon fixation. It may save your life one day.
  7. Hold wrists with your partner and look straight ahead. Have them walk around you as you release your frame tension to stay untangled and at the ame time, draw and reshath your blade. Repeat with all variations and don’t forget to laugh.
  8. Repeat the previous drill while sitting on your behind and your partner walking around you.
  9. Stand a step away from the wall and draw and sheath your blade continously. Have a partner throw tennis balls at you and you avoid contact of the innitial throw or the rebound while doing the work.
  10. Hold a partners hand as they try to move away from you and repeat the draw and sheathing movements both standing and on the ground.
  11. Have a partner hold onto you in some way (eyelash hold, arm around neck, pants belt grab, bear hug) and drag you somewhere as you repeat the draw and sheathing movements both standing and on the ground.
  12. Wear gloves you use throuout the year from snow gloves to nomex and repeat any drill in the progression.
  13. Tape a few fingers together and  repeat any drill in the progression.
  14. Hold another object in one hand ( a rifle, a hammer, a medical kit) and repeat any drill in the progression.

Enjoy what you do. It smooths the rolling of the wheels.

Notes from class: Sight and body movement

It is easy to focus on something out of the norm. Notice the everyday things so your vision is not guided but floating.

  1. Look forward and tense and relax different parts of your face. Note how tension and relaxing affects your sight and exhale to let go of excess.
  2. Place one hand in front of you and play with height and distance from your eyes and see how best to cover a person in front  of you and to your sides and how best to place your limbs to avoid obscuring your sight.
  3. Move one hand in front of you and play with the movement. Go up and down and side to side and in circles and see what movements best obscure what is in front of you and what does not. Avoid thinking what you consider a constant will stay the same as you change with time and work. Get to know yourself everyday.
  4. Walk around a partner while facing the same direction and note when you do see them and how they rise and fall in your horizon. Repeat the drill with different speeds and note how this affects in perception of what you see and what you see but do not notice.
  5. Have a partner strike you with a fist. Move out of the way and return. Repeat the drill as you squat slowly until you are at the bottom and then rise slowly up again. Height changes our sight and it helps to play with it to bring it into our awareness.
  6. Take an object you have with you everyday. It can be a book, a mobile phone ( I hear those are coming into popularity 🙂 ) or a backpack. Use it as you do everyday. For example, find you favorite passage in a book, and note what you still see and what is now not available in you line of sight. Play with it and see how to maximize your sight when you are using your device or tool. This can be the difference between life and death one day.
  7. Repeat the previous drill and have a partner come at you in different ways as you work with your object. Every time you learn something, explain it to your partner so they can play with you even deeper and so both of you will learn much more. Communication must exist on more than one level to truly learn both self and the world.

Focus on Quality in your work.

 

Make smart fast choices

Your mind is a machine that works for you. It evolves and devolves according to demand and use just like anything else in nature. There is no waste.

Here are partner work suggestions for development of awareness and from awareness we will get smarter faster choice making. You can also reference the OODA loop for further reading.

  1. Stand three paces away from your partner facing away from them. Have them engage you with a projectile as you turn ( a tennis ball for example) and slowly close the gap between you so you are able to maneuver with self-guidance at shorter ranges.
  2. Repeat the first play only now you are prompted by the actions of the partner. It can be by a sound or obscured sight (watching the shadow or reflection of the partner).
  3. Stand and have your partner circle you from a three step distance. (This connects to the pray/predator cycle and engage more than your logical mind) Have them engage you from different angles where you work to maintain freedom of maneuver and engage them at the same time. Shorten the distance between you as the work progresses.
  4. Sit or squat according to the location and have your partner circle you from a three step distance. Work to engage them smoothly when they present a lack of attention and include baiting steps taken by the circling partner to draw out awareness to honest intention and the lack of it.
  5. Close your eyes and start walking slowly. Pay attention to the input from your feet and your skin, your ears and your equilibrium sense. Have your partner engage you with static obstacles on the way and once this becomes smooth, with light pull/push contact. Once this is done, start engaging with holds, twists and turns.
  6. Start walking and close your eyes on every second step. Have your partner or partners engage you continuously as you open and close your eyes in this way (sync with breath if off your feet J) and continue to broaden your lack of sight by increasing either breath or step with no sight.
  7. Start from standing and have your partner or partners mold you into whatever shape they choose and start when they inform you to begin.
  8. Use either a breath hold or a prolonged inhale/exhale to season any of the previous work to increase your awareness to the tension and the way you work with it. Remember to release tension between runs of each work.

Notice that there was no use of tools or special devices? The best weight you can carry is between your ears and between your ribs. Although, toys can be fun.

Have fun.

Notes from class: Releasing the fear response

Releasing fear response play

Through play you get to know others truly but also you get to meet yourself. Here are ways to play with the fear response and move with and beyond it.

  1. Stand on one leg and close your eyes. Breathe continuously and have a partner push and shove you in any place and direction. As you are touched, focus on continuing your breathing regularly and relaxing your structure to the ground and back up to the starting position. Repeat until you are free in movement. Play with tension in your body to further understand how your body manifests your will and where you are blind to your tension and natural way of locomotion.
  2. Stand on both legs and have a partner walk around you and push and shove you as in the first drill. Move your hips, shoulders and spine to avoid getting moved from your place and if you are moved beyond balance, simply keep relaxing and go to the ground.
  3. Stand on one leg and have your partner push and shove you and as you are touched, relax the other leg down and move in place to avoid being controlled by the contact.
  4. Stand on one leg and have your partner push and shove you. As you are touched, relax your hips and and your leg on the ground and move on your foot either forward, backwards or to the sides. Keep breathing and let your eyes see what your body is facing and keep letting your alignment shift dynamically.
  5. Stand on one leg and close your eyes. Have your partner push and shove you first lightly and then with greater force and speed. Let your body move with the contact and let it release the imbalance without trying to balance. Let yourself go to the ground if need be and slowly you will regain your ability to just move without trying to maintain a position or alignment.
  6. Stand on both legs and have your partner push and shove you. Move in the opposite direction of the contact by relaxing a part of your body that feels free during the contact (hint: not where you are touched) and keep moving.
  7. Walk in a straight line and have your partners push and shove you. Work to keep your direction generally by moving in the holes your partners are leaving you and release your eyes from focusing on the heading all the time.
  8. Sit and have a partner hold you at the waist and another partner push and pull on you with their legs. Breathe and move within the hold and find how your body can stay mobile while in place.
  9. Repeat the eighth drill standing up.
  10. Repeat the ninth drill while being dragged from point A to B.
  11. Stand and close your eyes. Have a partner grab you and push and pull on you as you relax to the ground and back up with the notion of moving through their space on the way. This means you gather the contact instead of trying to avoid them.
  12. Stand and have a partner use their limbs to strike you slowly. Keep in place and avoid the pressure of the contact as you make light contact with the moving limbs. Make sure you see the empty space as well as the moving limbs.
  13. sit and close your eyes. Have your partner push and shove you with their legs as you work to keep breathing and moving with the contact as the previous drill.
  14. Repeat all drills while maintaining tension in a part of the body where your partner recognizes tension or lack of awareness.
  15. Repeat all drills with breath restriction. Breathe a slow exhale and work as much as you can, Inhale continuously and work as much as you can, Hold your breath and work as much as possible.

hunting with your kid

Here are several drills to practice with yourself and with your child or friends. These come to open your mind to the input of the senses and to allow the connection between you and your surroundings to thrive.

  1. Walk with your kid and choose an object to find first. First choose one item such as a cat and slowly evolve the game to finding a sitting cat, a Cheshire cat or a cat in the sunshine or shade.
  2. Walk with your kid and choose an object to find tracks of. It can be the trails of a plane in the sky, the footprints of a dog in the sand or the change in the color of the leaves where they were crushed by a moving object.
  3. Walk with your kid and look for a change in the status quo. A car that does not park in the usual place, a loud dog that stopped barking or a new bird in the bush that was not there last year.
  4. Walk with your kid and have one of you close their eyes. Find the source of the sounds and voices the one with the closed eyes hears and see if you can open your ears when your eyes are open.
  5. Walk with your kid and stop from time to time with your backs to each other. Note people animals and objects to each other and see if the other can find sign of it from their viewpoint. For example, you can find the shadow of the crane that was constructed last week, you can hear the miau of the cat that walks down the street or smell the dinner being cooked next door.
  6. walk with your kid and stop from time to time to lie down and watch. See how the ground sign changes from a different point of view and how we can learn more when we release the position we stick ourselves in. Take a white light flashlight with you to light the sign (animal print or another) from different directions and heights and learn to read the mark from any angle.
  7. Walk with your kid and visit the same sights every time during your walk. Mark the changes in the lighting through the year, mark the aging of the sign (leaves changing shape and color, dog leaving droppings, people littering or gardening and so on) and find why it works that way.

Paying attention pays more than you put in. The more you are open to your senses, the more you are able to act instead of react and the less you are a leaf in the wind.

building smoothness

Here are eight partner drills to build and hone your efficient and effective movement patterns. Don’t search for the key. Be the key maker.

  1. walk and breathe continuously. Have a partner throw a ball at you as you walk. Your job is to move out of the way and intercept the ball in flight. Do not stop the ball in flight but add to its course so you spiral it back to the thrower. (you can have the thrower move too to keep your eye work more dynamic)
  2. Lie on your stomach or back and close your eyes. Have a partner throw a ball in any direction and you have to get up and intercept the ball on one breath. Here place your attention on what you move first and how you get up in any direction.
  3. Move continuously between laying on the ground and standing. Have a partner use a sharp object such as a nail or knife to push and pull against the movement and with continuous breathing move with the contact but stay on your own course. Don’t be brave. Be effective.
  4. Tie a smooth rope between your ankles so you cannot extend past hip width. Have a partner push and pull on you from all sides. Your job is to move toward your partner where there is no pressure within this release-constraint TM 🙂
  5. Take an plastic cup or another easily crush-able object in your hand. Use this hand to push and pull your partner in any of the previous drill and avoid placing any pressure on the object. You must contain your own frame dynamically to be effective on the long run.
  6. Make sure the ground is safe and balance on the heels of your feet. Have your partner push and pull on you. Your job is to maintain the lowest amount of tension in your frame as you move with the release-constraint. Holding on to the ground is a habit and habits are either servants or slave makers. Let them go.
  7. Tense your entire body and keep breathing. Have your partner push and pull you anywhere and from any angle. Your job is to choose where you start to move from and to let go of excess tension once you are touched. Everyone has fear and tension. Everyone can manage it once attention to the tension is there.
  8. Walk with your partner at your side or moving freely around you. Focus on breathing continuously and let the building expectation release through the exhale. Have your partner jump on you whenever they wish. Release them into the ground and move on.

The tennis ball gym

A tennis ball is small and light and easy to carry around even through the crazy show airports are today 🙂

Here are ten simple drills to do with one or more tennis balls you can do in a hotel room or almost anywhere and keep your nervous systema and body honed.

  1. Take one tennis ball and place it between the wall and your body. Slide and move the ball around without touching it with your limbs and use all parts of your body and your neck and head and keep your body loose and active.
  2. Take two tennis balls and place them between the wall and your arms. Slide and move the balls in independent routes and move on all facets of the arms. Relax your eyes and trust all your senses.
  3. Take one tennis ball and place it between the wall and your leg. Slide and move the ball around by moving the hips and both legs and keep your posture relaxed and comfortable.
  4. Lie on the ground and roll the ball away from you. Roll your body to intercept the ball and repeat. Make sure you continue to breathe and let your eyes move freely instead of fixating on the ball.
  5. Lie on the ground and place the ball between you and the ground. Move the ball with your body movements and keep your breath continuous and your eyes relaxed.
  6. Bounce one ball off the ground first with your palm and then with the back hand. Progress the the facets of the fist and move on to your forearm and further on. The limits are in your imagination.
  7. Hold one tennis ball in your hand and throw it up and catch it. Repeat this with just one eye open and then with both eyes closed. You will learn to receive without bracing and that is a great lesson.
  8. Stand three steps from the wall and start bouncing the ball off the wall. Step so you always intercept the ball with your body not in the way and keep breathing calmly. Progress to being two steps away from the wall and see if you can manage over time to be one step away from the wall. Footwork is key.
  9. Stand with your back to the wall and bounce the ball behind you. Intercept the ball and repeat. Learn to understand angles and how they work both coming and going.
  10. Place the ball on various places in the body (for example the crook of your elbow) and start walking and sitting down and getting up. Move the ball over your body and keep yourself learning.

Cost: time and one tennis ball.

Return: health, fun and much more.

Things to do with your smartphone

Technology is what we make of it. That is so simple that it goes unnoticed. Here are six uses for your smartphone to make your practice better.

  1. Learning to gauge time – use the timer one various settings and perform a task from getting the garbage to the bin to doing X pushups. See if you can do it in the time you alloted yourself for the task and how close you were to the time.
  2. Download a metronome app and play with rhythm. Learn to change your rhythm and work in various speeds and tempos. Learning to let go of just one tempo is key to learning to ride the wave.
  3. Take a picture of something in front of you (not in the locker room) and watch the picture to note things you did not pay attention to when you looked at what you snapped a picture of. Repeat the drill and see if there is a pattern of things, colors and so on that is dormant to you.
  4. Take a video of yourself (again, not in the locker room) moving though one of your regular patterns (walking, running, sitting down …) and watch yourself. Freeze the frame and see if you are bent, twisted and so on without need or if you use too much tension in holding the Dynamic Frame TM 🙂
  5. Take a video or sound recordingof the street or nature around you and listen to it with closed eyes. Note what sounds you did not pay attention to when you recorded the video and note why and where it came from.
  6. Open your camera app and place the finger on the picture button. Note a repeating occurrence such as a wave on the beach or a person exiting a building and learn to sync with the app to snap a picture at a particular time. Timing with what is around you is key to getting the job done, especially if you used to pull a trigger. The target can be the crest of the wave or exactly when the person touches his foot outside the building.

And when you feel like it, Smile.

ten tests of strength

Here are ten tests of strength to gauge our ability under the pressure of life and going through the motions. They come to bring light to what we can do during the work and not when we are primed and ready. There is a vast difference between a boxing match and a ditch fight over the life of a friend.

  1. Hang on a tree branch and count to 120 out loud. Once finished, start doing pull ups and see how well you do.
  2. Squat down and count to 300 out loud. Once finished, sprint a 100 meters and see how well you do.
  3. While keeping yourself and others safe, avoid sleep for 72 hours and then write a full assay about how you see the world and yourself. See how well or different you do.
  4. While keeping yourself and others safe, Keep your eyes closed and perform your morning routine until you exit your home without your sight. Note how well you do.
  5. Place a conscious capable friend you care about over your shoulders and carefully walk up a few flights of stairs. See how you perform gentle tasks such as tying special ties with thin ropes and creating a working pulley without a winch. See how you do.
  6. Stand in a location without fragile china and start spinning around (lookup ballet if you want to learn a trick to that) Count to 60 out loud as you spin and then, perform a target practice from throwing darts to taking a good solid picture of an object under maximum zoom. See how you do.
  7. Place yourself in the push up position and start doing push ups as you hold your breath until you cannot continue (avoid breaking your own nose) Take a knife and cut a precise as you can shape into a piece of wood and see how you do.
  8. Inhale slowly until you cannot take in more air and hold. Start from a standing position and transition to laying on your stomach and getting back up until you cannot perform so anymore. See how you do.
  9. Play a game of tag and allow yourself to move only backwards. See how you do.
  10. Wear uncomfortable clothes (winter in summer or without a belt to hold your pants up..) and perform any task you choose. See how you do.

Difficulty and specialty are ways to bring us to ourselves and evolve as we clean the excess. The way we treat what comes along is the surest measure of our growing quality.

the power of fragility

A wolf stalks his pray in the snow and his foot presses a twig. The twig snaps and the deer tails off to his family protection, leaving the wolf and his babies to starve another night.

There is a lot of talk about power and resilience. Many choose to show force and fan the fire under fear and weakness in order to sway the crowds their way, but let us take another look fragility from another perspective.

Nature does not waste. We live because we can and so does any animal and plant. The softness of the pine needles let them shed the snow off so they will not break and our bones are flexible to some degree in order to avoid cutting through us and in order to let us leave a part behind us if trapped. The thought of such an act is unpleasant but nature wants you to take care of those hungry babies. Even at the cost of your hand.

Fragility exists only as a point of view and so does strength. Our design is meant to save energy and it is up to us to make things move as they were meant to by being honest with all of our parameters. Your foot feels the ground in order to avoid cuts instead of having hooves. Your eyes are pointed forward for the hunt so use your ears for peripheral perception. Your hand is soft compared to the claw so use tools and keep moving. Waste not.

Drills:

Ask a learning partner to press a twig to your skin. Move to keep it touching you but without breaking or bending it. The fragility of the twig will help you let go of tension and respect your own skin.

Spread a few small stones on the ground and take off your shoes. Walk slowly and let your feet tell you where to step and where to pass.

Take a piece of paper in your hand and have you partner try to take it away from you. Move to avoid harm to yourself but also to avoid wrinkling the paper. Think of a child in the arms of his parent.