Coordination

 

In his book, Tao of Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee discusses many different “qualities” or attributes of the martial artist.  He considers the most important to be coordination: “the quality which enables the individual to integrate all the powers and capacities of his whole organism into an effective doing of an act. . .The effectiveness of this muscular teamwork is one of the factors which determine limits of speed, endurance, power, agility and accuracy in all athletic performances.”

 

Truly, coordination applies to anything we do physically with our bodies.  The more proficient and fluidly we perform a task, with ease–this is determined by repetition, and most importantly precision in the practice.  We can train things a thousand times wrong or a thousand times right.  I believe that we can start out wrong, and move toward right through body awareness and developing a kinesthetic sense.  Some people do seem to have natural ability that aids them in getting to right a lot quicker.  In any case, what are we really training?  The nervous system, of course.  Lee describes the process of learning new tasks, with a “demand that is different in intensity of load, rate, repetition, or duration. . .an entirely new pattern of neurophysiological adjustment must be acquired.”  New brain maps are being created, neurons are being created and/or recruited—you are rewiring your brain!  It takes time to create new pathways and wear grooves into the old gray matter (we are creatures of habit).  I remember someone telling me about learning to play the piano.  One begins by using the whole body.  Then, as he progresses and streamlines, he eventually gets down to using only the muscles that are truly necessary for the task.  He builds up, then, as Lee says, “hack(s) away the unessentials.”  Using less muscles of the body to perform tasks AND using them more efficiently (i.e. not applying the brakes when unnecessary) is mirrored in the brain as the brain map also uses less real estate.

 

So, what the heck does all this have to do with Gutterfighting?  The more you perform certain tasks, the easier it is to perform them.  You want your combative skills to be there for you in a crisis situation, right?  Isn’t it more likely your skills will be available to you if you’ve worn a veritable canyon into your brain through countless repetitions?  You also want to have good timing.  You may be a big, burly type, with lots of weight behind your punch, but will that help you if he constantly beats you to the punch?

 

  “The well-coordinated fighter does everything smoothly and gracefully.  He seems to glide in and out of distance with a minimum of effort and a maximum of deception. . .forces the reactions of his opponent. . .makes his movements with a purpose.”

 

In landing that slap, or that knee, or whatever. . .it would be nice if you already knew what you were doing, eh?  And, it would be nice if you could do it fast.  With students, we normally just let them move at first, making a minimum of corrections during each session.  They can only focus on so much at once, and overloading them with information is NOT helpful.  It is a stressful situation anyway when people are new at something and they feel so uncoordinated!  J  Getting some people to move at all is a blessing in itself!  Nevertheless, we should always be striving for precision, and it is an ongoing process to get to the simplicity.  Getting in the habit of listening to their bodies is a hard task, too, for some folks.  They’re thinking about a million things other than how their bodies feel.  This is crucial information, though, and requires focus to perceive.  All our bodies are different and we’re all wired differently.  What works for me is not going to necessarily be what works for you.  In the end, other people can guide you, but the truth lies within you (the essence of Jeet Kune Do).

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