Thursday, January 31, 2008

Taking Up Space

I'm working on learning Kusanku and Kusanku Sai at the moment. This is both easier and harder than working on two different katas. Easier because the general movements are the same for each, and even a lot of the specific movements are so similar as to make little or no difference. Harder, because that exact similarity makes it really, really easy to criss-cross the two versions when working back and forth between them. Like putting the lift from the lift and punch in Kusanku into the simple stab of Kusanku Sai.

One of the things that's striking me as I work through these katas is the amount of waiting that's built into them. There are a lot of places where the move isn't a strike in-and-of itself, but rather it puts you in the proper position to strike. The kata doesn't flow from strike to strike, but rather from preparation to strike to the next preparation.

I don't seem to be having the daintiness problem so much with this kata - which is good, Sensei's been after me about it for about two years now. I do seem to have a problem with the waiting postures. Every time I'm too tense, to close in, too small. I'm holding my arms tight in to my sides, my hands are close to my body rather than out and relaxed. I seem to be trying to make myself as small as possible - afraid of taking up space.

As soon as I made that connection (which only took about the 50th time Sensei pointed it out), it was easy to relate to a lot of my behavior out of the dojo. I do try to take up as little space as possible - sometimes consciously, sometimes not. I tend to think that making room for me is inconvenient for other people, so I try to make myself small, even though it inconveniences me. When I look around the house now, Robbie and Aaron each have their own room. Rob has the basement and the garage as his. I have a corner and one closet of the guest room - which I lose easy use of every time we have a guest. And we're about to move my computer into the family room, which makes it even less "mine".

When I ponder the house arrangement, it makes sense that things are this way, until I start looking back at all the prior houses. We've owned four houses over the years, none of them small. In none of them have I ever had a room that was completely mine. Not even in Tennesse where we had a perfectly enormous house and only Rob and I. All rooms were shared, but the back garage was his. Unless you wanted to call the laundry room mine - which might have passed if it had had anything in it but the washing machine and dryer. In Arizona we had four bedrooms. Rob and I shared the Master Bedroom, Robbie had one, Rob's office was one, and the fourth - it was my office and Rob's craft room. In addition to housing the futon for houseguests. Somehow this arrangement - Rob has private space; the boys have private space; I have shared space - has become the norm, accepted by everyone, including me, as the obvious and natural arrangement. And it's not because Rob has shoved me out of places. It's because he took it for granted that he had the right to take up space - and I never did. I could easily have staked out a room in the house in Tennessee, but never did.

So now I'm trying to learn to take up some room - starting with the tiny step of trying to relax into largeness in Kusanku. Because honestly, if I can't stand somewhere with my arms out and say (mentally) "This is my space.", how the heck am I going to learn that I can do it with more permanent things?


somaserious said...

DISCOVERY!!! That's amazing, PB. Karate training is so good for us. I don't know why they don't incorporate this in our schools...The body does such incredible things when we don't want to be "seen", etc. We hold ourselves in, hoping that we won't bother anyone. Time to take over, don't you think? Not in a coup kind of way, just in a you kind of way. Yay you!


John Vesia said...

Did you learn a basic sai form before Kusanku Sai? Some Isshinryu schools teach Kyan no Sai for starts.

I learned the sai version of Kuasanku about a year after the karate version. I can see how learning them concurrently can be confusing.

Perpetual Beginner said...

Karrie - It does always seem that karate distills all that we do in the rest of our lives and lays it out for us to see, doesn't it?

John V. - Yes, we learn a form we call Simple Sai, though I know it has other names, before we start Kusanku Sai. I've known Simple Sai for about nine months now. I believe my Sensei normally does not teach both the weapon and empty-hand versions of Kusanku together, but he tends to teach me a bit differently since I have more prior/other experience. Why he chose to do these two together this time, I'm not sure.