Tuesday, October 14, 2014

TROY-KWON-DO: Perception

My fiancĂ© and I just bought our first house together. She was also with me during my latest half marathon, the Tyler Rose, last Sunday. This was my first out-of-town race that required a hotel. Let’s just say I have been staying in a variety of new locations lately.

Best image I could come up with for what Troy's been doing - The Stick Chick

Sure, I had been out of town on vacations and TKD tournaments, but those things are different - my entire family and group of friends are martial artists, so there is almost always a large group of trained people with me when I am in unfamiliar territory. It is safe and comfortable.

My fiancĂ© does not train in martial arts, nor do I think she could ever want to hurt somebody, so let’s just say these new locations have been taking some time to get used to. I’m on my own in these unfamiliar locations when it comes to defense. It’s honestly a vulnerable kind of feeling… and I like it.

When we are training martial arts of any kind, we start to look for anything that can help us defeat our opponent. This may come in the form of a telegraphed technique, a shifting of weight or foot position, a dropping of the rear hand during a jab. As we grow as martial artists we begin to have perception. Our understanding of techniques evolves in such a way that allows us see through them subconsciously and identify openings that we may have not ever been “officially” taught.

I found myself thinking about this when we were taking a break from remodeling the new house the other day. We were taking a nap on a temporary couch and I laid there listening to the noises of the house. The A/C was unfamiliar, creaks of the house were unfamiliar, even the noises outside were unfamiliar. The reason I was doing this was to become aware. I was attempting to establish familiarity with the sounds of the house, in hopes that if an intruder were to come in, I could sort their noises from the normal ones.

Honey, is dinner ready yet?

Call me paranoid, but I have never lived somewhere as the only martial artist in the house. At that moment I realized I was analyzing the situation exactly as you would in a fight. You feel out your opponent so that you may identify holes in their game. Martial arts have taught me to do this even when I am not even trying to do it.

When you go downtown at night with your group of friends, you are constantly aware of your surroundings – at least you should be. Now think about how much sharper your perception is during that same walk without your group. Martial arts have taught me that this is your best line of self-defense. It is an amazing survival mechanism that can be honed through training. This is one of the reasons I am enjoying the new house so much. It is uncomfortable, unfamiliar and it is forcing me to sharpen my perception.

There's a joke about hammers, nails, and  you somewhere in here.

I understand that once we settle in that feeling will soften a bit – but for now I am embracing it to the fullest. It’s amazing what your mind will pick up in your everyday surroundings. Take a step outside of your comfort zone sometime and see what your mind will pick up, it is a very interesting experience. Then take this “meditation” into your next sparring match. Treat it the same. Look/listen/feel the natural ebbs and flows of the fight, then attack and counter the holes that reveal themselves. Attack off rhythm; use anything as a reference point to find it. Maybe they load their back foot too much before a kick, or maybe they tighten up before engaging. These are the keys to defeating your opponent, and I have found that opening your perception to beyond just your fight-or-flight instinct is the key to being successful.

Troy Seeling is a 1st degree black belt and instructor in Tae Kwon Do, with 5 years experience in Boxing and a two-year white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Troy also instructs a strength and fitness class, and helps to manage his families' dojo, North Texas Karate Academy  In his spare time, he enjoys trying different forms of physical fitness, including Olympic weight lifting and distance running. He also enjoys film photography with antique cameras.  You can contact Troy at troyseeling@aol.com.

Ed note: Opinions in "Troy-Kwon-Do" posts are those of Troy Seeling, and I don't always agree. Whenever I've moved into a new house, my thoughts were less on the martial arts and more on how much I utterly hate moving  -The Stick Chick