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1700+ Posts... and Counting

Split Counting / Thinking

When you are doing a lot of punching, blocking, kicking, or whatever, the count can seem to go on forever.

Counting to 100 seems to take a long time. It is easier to count to 10 ten times. Even 15 can seem like a lot (if you are doing something hard). Counting to 5 three times can make it easier.

When you are doing 10 things, the number 8 means that you only have 2 to go. It is easy to do only 2 more things.

If you are doing 1,000 punches, the number 500 means that you are half way there!

Doing 1,000 punches sounds like a lot, but at least it is not 5,000!

The reason I am writing about this is because numbers are a mental thing. As humans, we count things: 1, 2, 3, 10, 100, 1,000. Since counting is a mental process, you can trick your mind into "thinking" that something is a lot or a little, hard or easy, etc.

I used to like puzzles, particularly when I was young. I would do 1,000 piece puzzles. That's a lot of pieces, but each one you fit together means that there is one less to chose from. That makes it easier to find the next piece.

When you do kata, you usually do not count the movements (unless you are doing the kata in a group). Moving on you own internal count, there are no numbers. There is no real feeling of a beginning, middle, and end to the kata. Of course, you might bow at the beginning and the end.

Have you ever started with one kata but ended with another? I used to do that with Pinan Yondan and Godan. I would start out with Pinan Yondan and end up with Pinan Godan. There was no "count" in my mind. I was just feeling the kata. Afterwards, I would just laugh about it. One kata is as good as another.

Done a certain way, kata have a count. Done another way, they have no count at all.

When you count, your mind is moving in a linear way. Time moves slowly. When you do not count -- do not verbalize or number the movement process -- time seems to move differently.

One of the secrets of Karate (a secret is just something you realize through training) is to learn to switch your mind into the verbal or nonverbal, numeric or non-numeric mode. When someone punches you, there is no time to think. If you try to think you will surely be hit. But if you can switch into the nonverbal mode, things seem to move slowly and you move without thinking. It is as if your body makes the decisions and you realize it after the fact.

I will tell you one of my tricks. When I take the ready position for a kata, that switches my mind off. In a non-kata context, if I put my index finger and thumb together (of either hand), that does the trick. You mind will obey physical commands if you train it to do so.

1, 2, 3... a, b, c,... *, * *. (* means non verbal).


Charles C. G**din