BLACK BELT: cross-motivation

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20161216_220354It takes quite some commitment to be knocking on the door of shodan (1st degree black belt). And as the test approaches I find I am STILL asking myself why, as a rather small 50 year-old woman – and especially as a Feldenkrais Teacher – I find myself so committed to a hard martial art as challenging as Goju Ryu karate. I have seen enough people come and go and felt the difficulty of staying with it keenly enough to know that it does really mean something – if only about me!

“Don’t you think it might be time to gently let go of Karate now?” says my own beloved Feldenkrais Practitioner as I lie on his table bruised and exhausted from blacking out and apparently breaking my fall with my chin and mouth. Continue reading

FELDENKRAIS + SUSTAINABLE TRAINING

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I have been meaning to write something about my experience of sustainable training and working with injury for some time, as working with this has taught me a great deal about the Feldenkrais Method. I came out of physical theatre aged 40 and since then I have been supplementing my feldenkrais practice with barefoot running and, for the last 8 years, a demanding form of traditional Okinawan karate. At my age especially I have had to pay a lot of attention not to end up injured and out of both activities quite quickly and it is important for many of my clients too. Continue reading

Karate Brown Belt: ‘Self-image’ and Strength

Brown belt grading  for me on monday evening. It feels significant. As Sensei Kevin says: from here you can smell the black belt. But that depends if I get through. I don’t think I ever imagined I would get this far. Now I can’t see myself giving up until I am just clearly too old. Not that I am looking forward to the actual grading: two hours of incredibly hard work which I am just hoping I manage without losing my wits, being overcome with exhaustion or my arms getting too battered to continue. Hopefully I will get through. If I do it will feel fantastic.

I haven’t written for a while. Partly because all my writing time is going into a book I have been commissioned to write on Feldenkrais for actors (very exciting) and partly because I still can’t write about martial arts in anything other than a personal journey kind of way as I am just not remotely an ‘authority’ and I didn’t have any more to say about it for a while. But recently Sensei Kevin asked me something about what I had learnt from Karate and how it was affecting my Feldenkrais work with clients and my Feldenkrais Trainer, Garet Newell, was curious about aspects of it too and as I think I am the only Feldenkrais Practitioner who does Karate (as opposed to other martial arts) I thought this grading was an interesting time to re-collect my thoughts around those good questions. Continue reading

To Stretch or Not to Stretch

It often surprises people that ‘stretching’ is not a word that is often used in the Feldenkrais Method  (in my experience). However there is a rather different – and very valuable – approach to enabling muscles to find their length in the Method. So I put up an article from the New York Times called ‘Reasons Not to Stretch’ (April 2013)  about research into static (usually passive) stretching before exercise on my Facebook page a short while ago, because I felt it represented a piece of scientific understanding that is potentially going in our direction. (The link to it is currently broken everywhere so will have to refind the original research or find another way to get the article to post it!)

However,  it caused a little bit of a stir, Continue reading

Karate? No. Surely not? Not You, Vic!

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Karate? No. Surely not? Not You, Vic! Is often the response I get, when I finally tell someone I am a student of Go Ju Ryu Karate.  If I had said I was doing T’ai Chi or Chi Gung or even Aikido or Judo there would be less surprise. Sometimes the surprise is because I weigh less than 50kg, am built like a bird and am known for being rather the opposite of confrontational. Continue reading