playing/growing with the staff

Here are ten movement drills to enhance and deepen your understanding of space, tension and natural movement. The tool in use is the staff but the lessons apply much further.

Look at the drills as child games so your learning will be fresh and honest. Do not rely on technique. Feel what is right for the moment and swing away 🙂

  1. Hold the staff parallel to the ground at waist height. Work to keep the staff between you and your partner by moving both the stick and your body first with one pursuer and then with more than one. Check how you can remain free in your movement by shifting your point of reference from the staff to the body and in between.
  2. Place one staff end on the ground and the other in your hand. Work to keep the staff between you and your partner by moving both stick and your body. Remember you can move under and over the staff and that you can control the height and angle of the staff at a very low energy expenditure.
  3. Hold one end of the staff in one hand and have a partner mirror your holds. work together to maneuver the stick out of your partner hands with your body position and stepping.  For example place the staff low using your hand and step behind it to push with your body in one direction or place the middle of the staff on your midsection and away from yourself with your arm and turn to dislodge the staff from your partner. Learn to use all of your abilities and options of movement.
  4. Hold one end of the Staff in one hand as you stand facing one direction. work to deter your partners from coming close to you by moving the staff around and up and down. Work first facing just one direction and add the ability to turn as you progress. This is a great drill for eyesight and coordination for any age.
  5. Sit and hold the staff in its middle. Have your partners come at you to step on you and use the movement of your body and staff to move the partners past you. Add to their movement instead of pushing and pulling and let your breath and body lead the way. Sitting will help in learning this as you roll if you try to plant yourself in the ground for support without legs 🙂
  6. Hold the staff in one end and at the center. Work to push your partner in one direction as they relax their legs and center to let the staff slide on their bodies. Once you feel comfortable with the tip, use the rest of the staff and your partner will contend with a two dimensional constraint with their body awareness.
  7. Stand a step away from your partner and swing the staff slowly from side to side through their frame. Have your partner relax with continuous breath and roll or collapse the frame to avoid getting hit by the staff. Once one step away from each other is comfortable, advance half a step and repeat to grow awareness instead of fright.
  8. Have your partner stand touching the wall. Push and pull on them with the staff and have them move toward you all the time. This will release the shifting point of reference in the body and mind. Start by letting your eyes see what is if front of you without fixating on the target. Your target is movement.
  9. Have your partner swing the staff at you and with your own staff add to the movement without tension in your arms and shoulders to avoid contact. Work so you breathe and let the staffs find their own combined paths without governing too strictly over them. Letting your movement blend in is the way to keep swimming in the whirlpool.
  10. Tense your entire body or halt your breathing and repeat any of the drills listed above. This will let you become aware of your excess tension and fear and release that which is superfluous.

And smile. If the tide brings new understanding your way.

The family martial art

Here are eight ways being a parent gives you on the job training to be a better martial artists.

  1. Learn to roll softly by Spreading some Legos on the ground and rolling over them. If you dare 🙂
  2. Listen to silence as well as noise to know when it is time to sprint to the rescue.
  3. learn to feel a change in mood before it erupts to avoid conflict and build the family.
  4. Sleep with one eye open for the rest of your life to monitor the noise, heat, air movement and scent of everything around you.
  5. learn to track several independent movements at once and prioritize.
  6. learn to catch with the right amount of tension and to bump without harm with fragility.
  7. learn to accept hard truths at surprising heights and depths without clinging to illusion. It can make and unmake the story in spectacular ways.
  8. Learn to mind where you place your bulk and avoid mindlessness. Any moment void of awareness can wreck havoc on tiny feet and arms.

And smile, if it makes sense or if it feels good.

This is a great way to teach children to move and defend themselves in a game way. Give two kids a jump rope or a long belt and each one holds one end. Now they try to loop it around the others neck (without giving it too much pull) as the other moves first with just the body and neck and than with the hand that is free and than with everything. you can also have a two on one where one kid holds two rope ends and two other kids work with him and so on. Adults can do this too with the same effect and move later on to the chain which is less kid friendly.
The perception of time and dimensions changes when there is no sight or lesser sight. Take a stop watch and time it to five minutes. Close your eyes and walk around the house or clearing. Sit down and listen and consider how much time has passed. When you think five minutes are close to over open your eyes and check. It is usually far from what your perception places it. Repeat this drill and combine it with other drills to make your perception of time less sight dependent.
Distance also changes with shadows and lesser light. Close your eyes and think how many steps you have to the light switch or your closest tree and check if you can reach it with this number of steps and if your heading is right. do this many times and in different places and textures. For example a forest will not guide you in a straight line and a desert dune can tell you by the angle of the sand many things.

Play with this and remember that you can feel light even if your eyes are closed or burning. You can sense what you are stepping or crawling on without looking at it and with a stick without touching it. The wind will tell you of an opening, the angle of the ground of the landscape and the sound what you are stepping it. Move slowly. In the forest a broken leg is very much like a death sentence. Pay attention and do this drill with your kids.