Saturday, April 03, 2010

Kendo and Physics

Anyone that does Kendo can understand that even the most basic themes can be difficult to understand or perform.  Someone might tell you over and over how to hit a better men or make better use of seme, which is something you possibly could perform given enough time.  You might be able to do it, but do you really understand what your instructor is talking about?

Sometimes, whenever I am given advice on something during training, I can get told that my body has to be in position X when I start, then it needs to be in position Y when I finish while, at the same time, I need to be thinking about Z to really carry things through.  It really works for the short-term understanding to be able to try out what they are telling me for that particular practice, or even the following couple of practices.  But, I must admit, just saying that I have to be in certain positions or thinking about certain things can sometimes ring hollow to me for the long-term to aid in personal development.  Thus, I have been thinking of certain ways to aid in understanding things in terms that have more of a personal meaning to me.

Whenever we learn a new concept, one of the highly recommended methods for memorization or better understanding is to use mnemonics which is the concept of using aids to help your memorization and understanding of new material.  The most common thing to do is to take a new word or phrase and assign it a word, phrase or concept to make it easier to understand.  So, when it comes to Kendo, doing something like men turns into basic mechanical physics concepts like vector forces of the tip of the shinai and radius of rotation and their related equations.  Or, a concept like tame goes from just storing up my energy before I attack to thinking of springs and how they operate.  Things like this really helps put things into perspective and makes everything less daunting to understand.

Another benefit of this is that, whenever I have to relay the information to others, I can have an easier time explaining it since it makes much more sense to me.  The main caveat is that, because I understand it in terms of physical concepts, relaying the information may be a bit more difficult to others to understand that don't have the same science background that I do.  Of course, any looks of confusion allows me to backpedal a bit and explain it differently if I forget who I am talking to.

Either way, the most important thing is that I turn what was previously hard to understand concepts into something meaningful and, thus, easier to understand.  Doing so allows me to rely on my own devices to aid in improvement, regardless of the type of advice I get.


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