Thursday, July 10, 2008

Syllabus Form

Given my crappy excuse for a schedule this week, I've resorted to training by myself. This means many many reps of Syllabus Form.

My observations:

  1. There's a very fine balance between thinking of Syllabus Form as a set of responses to attacks, and thinking of Syllabus Form as a 38-step program. The issue is this: thinking of the Syllabus Form as a set of responses makes me artificially panicky, and my form suffers, BUT, if I think of the Syllabus Form as a 38-step program, my form is wonderful, but my flow suffers. I don't think I'm supposed to think of Syllabus Form as either and just execute it, but I've not reached that stage yet where I can execute every move in the Form flawlessly.
  2. I notice that the more I execute Syllabus Form, the sloppier it becomes. I think this is a symptom of a bigger problem - when I get tired (not physically, but bored, distracted etc) my form suffers. I need to keep myself motivated.
  3. There's a weird annoying lag in my footwork, more so than necessary to account for not leading with the face and hands. I don't quite know what's wrong. Maybe it's a familiarity issue.


The Disappearing Man said...

Glad to hear you're doing your own training bro. Can't be overly specific without actually seeing what you're doing but have a few pointers that may help.

For me the balance point for Syllabus Form is as a set of plays. We can focus on proper form for the play, without visualising the attack (which leads to anxiety). Just execute, say, a good exchange of thrusts. Then take a moment to refocus before moving on to the breaking of the high thrust. That way although flow is somewhat interrupted, the breaks are at natural pauses anyway and don't affect the tactical aspect of the drill.

Regarding tiredness - I find that doing some breathing exercises helps with focus. A set or two of crane breathing works wonders. Also, the moment you notice sloppiness, stop. Don't continue with the drill. Restart from the beginning. Take a short break if you have to, breathe a bit, get going again. But don't try to push through the sloppiness - just makes it worse.

Won't comment about the footwork lag until I see it.

Joeli said...

I've had similar problems with my form, too. Notice when your execution of techniques start to loose its sharpness is an important learning step. If you get sloppy in a pair drill, you usually get smacked in the face, metaphorically or for real. When you are working alone, you don't get that helpful feedback, but you are enjoying the heightened sense of your own actions because there's less distractions.

In my opinion, doing a form as a choreography, if that's what you mean by 38-step program, is only good for learning the choreography of the form. When you're familiar with the order of the techniques, you can start really focussing on the techniques themselves and start learning the form itself.

I'd recommend doing the form as a set of responses and try to train away the panicky reactions. Chances are that you are only aware of the unwanted reactions because you are practising them in the seclusion of your own form and not in a pair drill.

Your second point sounds a bit like you don't know where to concentrate on when doing the form. A bit like you have corrected most of the wrong parts you have noticed in your form, but you haven't discovered any new problems. More practice will make you better to spot the small details and soon you start finding new things to focus on. A harsher way would be to take a video of yourself practising, and you'll get a quick idea of how much you'll have to work with. but that might lead to you trying to correct too many things in the same time, or trying to correct things in a weird order.

As for the last part, that's a rather technical question, and answering to it might lead to suggesting to fix things about your footwork which really aren't broken. Footwork is kind of difficult, not least because you spend a lot more time walking than waving a sword in your life, which might make unlearning some footwork habits quite a hard thing to do.