Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Benefits of Training in the Ways

Wayne C. McKinney's 1966 book Archery is still used as a reference text on the art and sport of Archery, and is considered a seminal textbook on the subject of modern Western Archery. It's comprehensive approach to Archery, including the equipment, history, cultural value, techniques, and training for sport, hunting, and art gives the student a valuable introduction the study as it is approached in the West. In the chapter Potential Benefits of Archery he describes ways that the practice of Archery can benefit the student, the family, and society as a whole. As martial artists, we can read our own practices into his words and see where we experience these benefits for ourselves.

3rd Edition, Page 90

"Archery provides the participant with a sport which can be used throughout life. Some sport activities learned early in life do not have this potential. A man in his thirites does not engage in American Football during his leisure time as an active particpant. The opportunities are not available to do this, and the human body will not withstand the stresses and strain. In contrast, many excellent archers do not reach their performance peak until they are in their thirties. Archery is a sport for people of all ages.

One major biophysical value of muscular activity is the abilty to release emotional tension. Emotional tension seems to be cumulative in nature. The reader has probably experienced at least one day in which everything seemed to go wrong! At the conclursion of such a day, one tends to be rather tired and tense. This type of tension is psychologic in nature. Psychiatrists indicate that it is a good idea to "blow off steam" on these occasions in a socially accceptable way. This contriubutes to one's mental health. Shooting the bow and arrow for an hour after a "bad day" has the potential to relax the archer. Physical work of any type has the potential to relax a human being. The concept of work being a relaxant is so abstract that it is not too well understood by most people.

The challanges which archery presents in its various sport forms have value for many people. Archery is not an easy sport to master, since there are many opportunities for the occurence of human errors. This facet of archery has the greatest appeal to many sportsmen and individuals who seek perfection in things they attempt. Mastery of archery is a motivating factor for many archers.

The serious student of the humanities may derive enjoyment by reading and studying about the use of archery as portrayed by many authors and scholars throughout history. The mythological literature abounds with stories about archery, and art museums throughout the world contain many famous works. This liberal arts approach to studying a sport is often overlooked by students and physical educators.

The individual who enjoys social activities will find that archery is a good medium for this purpose. Most cities of any size throughout the country have archery clubs which provide opportunities for the archer to share his interests with fellow archers. Clubs are locally operated by a system of self-government, and funded by modest dues. Rounds are shot periodically for practice. There are also intraclub and interclub tournaments. Members also compete in large professional and amateur tournaments conducted within the state, region, and nationally.

In contrast to the the social aspect of archery, the archer who likes to be alone can practice and compete on a highly individualized basis. No partner or team is absolutely necessary to enjoy archery. It has been said that the greatest form of comepetition is with one's self. An archer can compete without contact with other people if so desired.

Archery is and has been many things to many people. In contemporary society, archery is a sport for the competitor. Archery is also for the individual who enjoys handling fine tackle; it is for the man or woman who enjoys being in the out-of-doors during a hunting season, a field archery tournament, or bow fishing; it is for the person who enjoys the spirit of competition with other people and with himself against the elements. Archery can be a partial means of making the participant's leisure time more rewarding and meaningful."

Martial arts is also many things to many people. Self Defense. Fitness. Competition. Way. We choose our own level of involvement. Find opportunities to explore each of these aspects of your training in a healthy way. Certainly, your study of the arts can be a means of making your leisure time more rewarding and meaningful. You may be content to relegate your training to avocation, and that is perfectly fine. It should be a thing which brings you joy. But remember that beyond being a hobby, the practice of martial arts has much more to offer. One need but seek to find the many rewards awaiting the diligent student of the martial Ways. The positive societal, communal, and individual benefits of such training can not be overstated.

Drills -
Beginner: Practice "Drawing the Bow" technique for deception when punching. Practice flicking out jabs and using off hand motions to distract. Think about what your training means to you and what benefits you look forward to gaining from your involvement in martial arts. Identify those positive goals specifically.

Intermediate: Practice "Lockout" style punching techniques to joints, limbs, and the head and neck for anatomical control. Practice thrusting through the opponent's position and staying present, forcing him to change position in response. Take consistent action on accomplishing the goals you've set and actively seek out the positive benefits of your martial arts training in your daily life. Is it making you stronger? More confident? Less stressed in your day to day affairs?

Advanced: Practice "Drawing the Bow" technique as excision, seperating the rear elbow of the chambering motion from the lead hand jab to 12 o'clock. Identify movements which can be used when fighting multiple opponents which can be effective both as physical maneuvers and psychological attacks. Explore "Seperating the Opponents" with strikes. Review the progress you've made since you've begun your training in the arts. Compare the person you have become to the person you began your journey as. Set new goals for yourself, both in your future training, and as a person and practitioner moving forward.

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