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  • On bad habits

    Neil wrote in another thread:
    But then even after the explanation they still don't correct so was the explanation worth it? Until they figure it out for themselves and understand it at some level deeper than surface, they won't really fix it. Anyways, ongoing internal debate.
    Which is something that I have been pondering about for awhile..what does it take to recognize a bad habit?.
    I'm sure we've all tried it: Teacher/Senior keeps pointing out something you are doing wrong, but it always seem to take some kind of 'internal' recognition before you can actually put any real work into improving said habit!.
    For me, most of the 'revelations' happen outside the dojo...usually when making coffee/cooking (I have a bokken in the kitchen I'm always swinging about when waiting for things to cook/boil/gril/etc), but sometimes also when writing my blog or very rarely, the moment it's mentioned to me.
    Where/how do you become aware of your bad habits...and how are you getting around getting rid of them?

    Jakob

  • #2
    Hmm for me, I usually have the "feeling of dread". Like somethings not quite right... Even though I try physically to the best of ability, it just doesn't feel right. Perhaps it borders on the edge of paranoia, but its just something about the way I'm doing things that raises the red flag if you will.... Then I think about what my sensei said, replay what I actually did in my head, then I usually figure it out..

    Tim

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    • #3
      As for getting rid of them, I usually try to do everything "in slower motion". Then I can pinpoint approximately the point where I "stray from the path". You can never get rid of all of your bad habits, but you can damn well try to mitigate those problems to the best of your ability.

      Tim

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      • #4
        When I kept tripping over my hakama and smashing into the floor I had a revelation (whilst screaming in pain ofcourse):

        Maybe I'm lifting my foot too much during fumikomi?

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        • #5
          I can't say I've had any "revelations" about how to fix bad habits lately. I wish I did. For me, I think it's more a process of trial and error and working through frustrating slumps. When I'm trying to work out a specific kink, it can make for a pretty crappy series of kihon geiko/jigeiko overall. But I've come to the realization that you can't expect to get rid of bad habits if you're not willing to tear some things down before building it back up. So you kinda have to let yourself suck for a while if you want to get better. For example, I've been trying to fix my jodan so that I'm hitting forward more, rather than hitting down. But when I focus on one thing, other things tend to go down the crapper. (Can't walk and chew gum at the same time, I guess.)

          Admittedly, it's very difficult to give oneself these re-grouping periods, because one's ego tends to get in the way (i.e. you don't want to "lose" against fellow club mates). But that's mushin too -- accepting that getting hit is an integral part of learning. I still struggle with it, and I'm sure I will in the future.

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          • #6
            Observation and perception.

            If you do not see what to do, no way to improve.
            If you do not feel that you're not doing what you think to be correct, no way too.
            I sometimes use video to correct my self-perception or do suburi slowly with a really heavy spar (3 meters long, 7 centimeters diameter aluminium tube).

            I've one constant thinking "every move should be logical and simple to do"

            But when I focus on one thing, other things tend to go down the crapper.
            Have you ever noticed that it's the same for children, regression in one domain before progression in one other?

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            • #7
              When I'm told that I'm doing something wrong, I slow down and relax and usually I dont do it wrong again. (Not that I do everything correctly, just less wrong I guess!!!)

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              • #8
                realising bad habits is really hard, most of the time someone has to point it out to you so you can realise it. Classic example in a dojo situation from fellow kendoka or sempai: "when doing kiri kaeshi, you shouldn't do helicopter cut (shinai moving in a generally horizontal position), it should be like this, shinai cutting down at an angle *kiai* *MASSIVE HELICOPTER CUT* see ?" sometimes as much as you want to try to beat bad habits...you just cannot, you need someone to point it out to you. If you can find it out yourself great.

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                • #9
                  After hearing the same advice again and again, for example, "too much right hand, use your left", eventually they will start to turn on to the fact that they need to correct it.

                  Then there is the long process of actually trying to fix the problem.

                  I think that if people are slow to fix a problem, it doesn't mean that they don't realize they have one. The two stages are separate and the realization maybe is there and they are just struggling with the fixing part. Teaching when you see errors is not wasted effort. Maybe they are just slow to find solutions, but I am sure that they are listening.

                  Hope that is coherent...

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                  • #10
                    LOL! I just go by the sig of one of the members here.

                    "Breaking bad habits, and creating new ones." I find I'm in a constant state of refinement. As it should be.

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                    • #11
                      Just last night I watched a video of myself at the bowdens. I saw all my bad habits in living colour... very depressing. It really tells you exactly what you need to work on. If you can stomach it without bursting into tears.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Anjin-san
                        Just last night I watched a video of myself at the bowdens. I saw all my bad habits in living colour... very depressing. It really tells you exactly what you need to work on. If you can stomach it without bursting into tears.
                        Like An-chan said, watching videos of my own kendo is a very important part of bad habit spotting to me, I just wish I could see more of it!

                        Sometimes its very hard for people to admit that they have bad habits at all. I know of a few people who would say "well it works doesn't it?". Admitting that you need to change is to me just as important as figuring out what needs to change. Honesty is the best policy!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by nodachi
                          for example, "too much right hand, use your left"...
                          They told us this a few times on the first day we started. Yet I still get the same comment for 1,247 more times... And today I am still working on it!!!

                          ...Or maybe I should feel better about myself last time I heard a nanadan telling a rokudan to "relax"

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JSchmidt
                            Which is something that I have been pondering about for awhile..what does it take to recognize a bad habit?.

                            Where/how do you become aware of your bad habits...and how are you getting around getting rid of them?
                            Great question, Jakob. I too have spent a lot of time reflecting on how I can eliminate bad habits (only because I have so many of them).

                            To identify the real source of the problem I usually have to be told the same thing at least three different ways, often by three or more different Senseis. It sometimes takes me a while to figure out that the diverse comments I get are really telling me the same thing. I have to question myself, synthesize, and put the puzzle together.

                            For example, "too stiff" + "deeper kiai" + "more sharp hitting" + misc. comments on my posture helped me figure out that I need to push my energy down into my lower body. When I manage to do it, my upper body naturally relaxes, my spine straightens, and my hitting becomes sharper.

                            The feeling I get when I succeed in pushing my energy down into my lower body was something I had to find in myself, it could not be explained to me by anyone. Identifying the feeling that comes along with a more correct movement is a mysterious process that can take a long time.

                            When I finally discover the new feeling that tells me I am executing better, I first concentrate on getting that feeling during suburi, then uchikomi-geiko, then kirikaeshi. Only when I have the new feeling happening reliably in kirikaeshi does it start to show up my keiko. It takes me months and months of work to get one small, fundamental change from suburi to kirikaeshi.

                            Because I'm only 3 Dan, I'm still working on fundamentals so my strategy for fixing bad habits is focused on execution. It's going to be a hard transition to start fixing bad habits that don't boil down to simple execution of technique. No wonder it's so difficult to pass 5 dan and up.

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                            • #15
                              Being mudansha, I don't even know if I know enough to comment here. But having been told many many many things by just about anyone else in class (since nearly everyone is senior to me), I feel like throwing out my thoughts here.

                              First of all, the feeling of learning Kendo is much like trying to plug holes in a boat with only 10 fingers. You see water leaking like a sieve out of a hole, so you plug it, but to move your hand there, you open up the three other holes you had already plugged up. So you try to hold your leg on one hole, which leaks, but not as fast, while you focus on what you peceive to be the biggest leaking hole.

                              In other words, when I get corrected, it's not as if I purposefully ignore it, or that I refuse to believe they are correct in that what I'm doing is wrong. I believe they are right, but two things. One, if I focus on that, another problem that I haven't fixed into muscle memory yet reoccurrs. I may go back to work on that and give up trying (for the time being) on what was just corrected if something too foundational falls apart as a result.

                              For example. My right foot raising up during shomen. Ok, need to work on that. If my tenouchi slips, I will keep on focusing on the foot during my shomen. But if my kamae turns wrong, then I am now not trying to work on my right foot, but on my kamae being right, and then if it is, my right foot. Because I think my kamae should never be compromised if I can help it (though my kamae is horrible, but still), but something else that is equally in flux can be not so much worried about while I work on the "lesson". I guess it's a judgement call - I certainly don't mean to presume I know what is more important than the sensei does in terms of what I should work on. But I've also had them comment, "your kamae, you need to work on that" after I'm focusing too much on the right foot, or whatever it is.

                              I also try not to overanalyze. But I try to listen and respond. It's very difficult for me, because my mind wants to overanalyze, but I know it can be counterproductive.

                              Then number two is the simple fact that the sensei believes it is so simple just to (insert correction here) but I can watch, I can listen, I can read theory, see it in slow motion, see it fast, and I still can't do it. My body isn't a perfect manifestation of what my mind understands. So it very very often happens that I'm doing something and I know I'm doing it and I'm trying to fix it and unable to fix it, and inevitably, that's when the sensei says, "you are doing this wrong, try this" and I try and fail and they try to explain it another way, and I probably seem like a total moron to them because I just can't do it right.

                              So for those of us who are not so gifted as natural kendoka, I suspect it can be frustrating for the sensei who spend so much time saying the same things over and over and over again and again.

                              Still, it's all worth it when in a flash moment of freak luck or accumulation of muscle memory, all of a sudden, something feels better than it did, the sensei corrects something else unexpected, and I think to myself, "maybe I am getting a little better" even if it's just that little teency piece. Or maybe I'm not and the sensei is just tired of saying the same things all the time !

                              Regardless, even if the feedback seems repetitive, it's how we know we are or aren't really getting it, and yes, the journey is one we have to make ourselves. You can play a recording of a symphony for someone, but that recording will never convey the experience of sitting in a symphony hall listening to it for real. But two people who have been to the symphony haul can both listen to the recording and say, "yes, that recording, how beautiful" and both really be talking about the live experience.

                              Sensei was talking to me after practice and laughing about how he just discovered something this past year that another sensei had told him years ago and it finally clicked and made sense to him.

                              All you sensei who read this: thank you very very much for those moments that will come to your students years and years from now where the words you have repeated and kept mentioning will come back and we'll say to ourselves, "wow, I get it now !"

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