Saturday, 25 February 2017

Blindfold training

Now here's something I have not yet written about. :D

I have been interested in the Zen side of Japanese martial arts since the age of 16. It was about at this age when I began with Qigong as well.

As a young karateka back then I did not have the confidence, strength or aggression of my classmates and looking back- I think it was a good thing. Because of that classes scared me.

Now- had it not been to exposure to the mental training techniques provided to me by Zen- I would not have seen this hostile dojo environment as the ideal testing grounds for the things I have read.

This is one major factor to which I attribute my development as a martial artist.

One very important training tool that has always served me well and that continues to do so to this dat is Zen Meditation. This, in itself, has provided me with a number of benefits about which I can write in detail. One of those- was the development of intuition and sensory acuity.

It is actually wonderful how we perceive the world around us. You have been told that what you know is the result of messages reaching your brain via your senses. Our eyes are probably one of the foremost senses on which we rely if not singlehandedly the foremost.

Meditating with my eyes closed has taught me that, once self awareness and thought has been removed out of the equation, we can actually be tuned in to so much of what goes on around us. We can feel the air around us, vibrations of the earth below us, sounds of people and vehicles far away.

After years of doing this I can still pinpoint the weherabouts of family members at home when my eyes are closed during meditation. They are quite noisy even at their most quiet times, after all. :D

Now- fiction as well as classic martial arts lessons abound with examples of blindfolded fighters. Most likely the most famous of them all is the blind swordsman, Zatoichi.

In more modern times the Marvel superhero Daredevil shows us that his sensory acuity actually allows him to perceive far more than what a seeing person does with his eyes.

Other examples that I have found is GI Joe's Jinx and Mortal Kombat's Kenshi.

As for myself- the only styles in which I could ever make sense of blind sparring are Judo and Wingchun. The cheat here is that these two martial arts involve you maintaining in physical contact with your opponent. A higher level of sensitivity, however, can allow you to perceive your opponent's movements from a distance away. Believe me- this is not just a matter of hearing where the opponent is. This is not guessing either. In fact- your mind has to be completely devoid of thought for this to work.

The very first exercise that I did while blindfolded was flicking up a coin with my fingers and then catching it in mid-air while my eyes are closed.

Later on I took to bouncing a rubber ball against a wall. With your eyes open this is already a good way to train your hand speed for blocking. With your eyes closed it becomes a very difficult exercise that requires the utmost sensitivity to do.

After all that I experimented with blind grappling and sticking hands. A while later I have read that it is not unusual for Wing Chun teachers to spar with their students while blindfolded.

This ability is actually one of the most elementary of skills that dedicated training in any of a number of martial arts can offer. Still- it is one of those that sets a martial artist apart from that group of persons that practice a fighting sport or someone that knows self defense.

Who has tried it so far?  

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