Monday, 26 November 2007

Time and timing - part 1

A couple of days ago I was standing at the bus stop in the morning and saw two cars parking on the opposite side of the street. I could see their alarm lights blinking because it was still dark.

Their timing was very interesting, almost as if they were parts of a clock: one alarm the 'tic' the other the 'tac'. I noticed that if I stare at them and focus on the lights they seem to blink faster. If I concentrate even more, they will seem to blink very quickly. When I cleared my mind and just looked at the street with my brain turned off (if was easy at 5.30am) they were blinking less frequently.

This was very interesting because I've just read about the perception of time in martial arts recently. I read that if you clear your mind time seems to slow down. If it slows down it means that your reaction time decreases giving you 'streched' time to react to any attack more quickly. It was nice to see this effect in reality. Otherwise the article would have been just a couple of paragraphs about the mystery of time in martial arts.

This is why old Japanese martial arts (Koryu) teach you to stare at a distant mountain instead of your opponent. Staring and focusing too hard is not good :) . It's a bit like "freezing" without any shock experience.

Some aikido masters tell you to consider this effect and behave accordingly. Since there's no mountain in the indoors dojo it would be hard to focus on it unless one wall's wallpaper shows mountain Fuji (which I think would be nice :P). Instead you should watch the whole picture and should not focus on a particular attack (e.g. shomenuchi) but a moving figure, at least as far as I understand from the article. Probably this is what we would describe as looking for the attacker's intention to attack and start a technique before the opponent moves (as we react on his intention to start).

I'll continue with my other theories and thoughts about timing in another post later. Until that you can comment on this post :).

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