Category Archives: Shotokan Karate

Natural Method Beta-Testing Workshop

Leave a comment

Interesting fact about yesterday’s workshop. Wasn’t meant to be a huge event, rather a beta test group put together sort of last minute (logistically only, content was slightly accelerated because of the close attention to 6 participants). An element of mea culpa needs to be considered in the sense that this information is not only intrinsic to my being, it’s engrained incidentally since childhood P.E. and semi consciously letting my kids develop and allow the promotion of all that is taught (and I can expand later how kids are actually at the highest level of performance on some things, as Hébert essentially says “forget technique at some point, just do it, all right, you have been primed!”).
What I’m getting at is there is the performance of the moves, their simplicity and no need for an over explanation or an attempt to make it all “scientific”. Then, there’s the martial aspect (as one of the three objects of training: martial, pedagogical, corrective).
Martial meets pedagogical in the following sense: a punch is a punch is a punch. Be it jab, cross, hook or uppercut. The punch is the martial element. The pedagogical is the teaching of the punch. And amongst the martial artists reading this, can we agree that as simple as a punch is, it can take a long time to get someone to get how to do it right. A black belt is a person whose execution of the basics differs from a white belt (oversimplification maybe, I’m doing away with nuances as it would be a different topic of conversation).

Some attendees, fitness enthusiasts (clients, end users, not necessarily educators) got plenty out of the workshop, truly enjoyed it, made sense of the book better by getting the live instruction in person. But in the educators or “applicators” (physical therapy student), the “frying” of their CNS, their brain was such that it made me understand that the proper teaching of the content, for educators, needs to take the course of a few days. And those may need the prerequisite of frequent practice up until the point of a multiple-day event. One trainer actually felt like throwing up (because he came in with the educator mindset, while the others came with the “just do it and get a good workout while seeing what I should do more of” mindset).

I would except the martial arts crowd, as we are used to a different approach than the standard trainer approach.

But it makes sense to me with my 28-yr martial arts background, and the fact that Hébert was Navy, that the teaching of the Natural Method may be more akin to learning a martial art than teaching a barbell deadlift, kettlebell swing or snatch, or other lift.

It’s hard to just do a little 4-hr, even 8-hr preview. To truly get the most out of Hébert’s work, it does require a solid retreat, immersion process. I am looking to hear what participants feel like a few days after. My own Indian clubs certification was alike, where my brain was fried, but soon after, things “made sense”.

Weaving the layers

Leave a comment

From the Fundamental Exercises to the Functional Exercises, and in this case, the Self-Defense Techniques, borrowing Pavel Tsatsouline’s concept of “linkage vs leakage”, it is easy to see how and why arm, leg and trunk movements serve more than a warm-up for the muscles or exercises for joint mobility.

All the stances covered in chapters 4, 5, 7 and 10 of the second Natural Method book are revisited in Chapter 8 in the standalone book on self-defense techniques.

As the saying goes, pictures being worth a thousand words, let’s explore how these arm, leg and trunk movements are applied for both functional and fundamental exercises.

In the picture below, we see the Forward Slit™ with various arm positions. That stance is akin to what I call “power stance” in my Ninjutsu training, and Zen-kutsu from my Shotokan Karate days.

Photo from The Natural Method: Fundamental Exercises (Book 2) translate by Philippe Til

To illustrate that last point, here’s what it looks like for throwing a punch: below, person on the right in the picture.

IMG_20150706_0014

 

Now, let’s look at the following carryover of the Backwards Slit™ operating as a weaving maneuver to avoid a punch (of which the person on the left in the picture does a variation of).

Photo from The Natural Method: Fundamental Exercises (Book 2) translate by Philippe Til

 

The Balancing exercises covered in Chapter of the second book also can double up for kicking exercises (front kicks, hook kicks), as illustrated in the pictures below.

Photo from The Natural Method: Fundamental Exercises (Book 2) translate by Philippe TilPhoto from The Natural Method: Fundamental Exercises (Book 2) translate by Philippe TilIMG_20150706_0006IMG_20150706_0011

Even the ground fighting work has its roots in the bridging exercises or trunk movement fundamentals.

Photo from The Natural Method: Fundamental Exercises (Book 2) translate by Philippe TilIMG_20150706_0049

Once again, nothing is new, everything has been pretty much covered and it is indeed in the quality of the teaching, the execution of the basics, the development of the skills where the strength of an individual’s results lie. While many things have evolved since the creation of systems, at this point centuries old, if not millennia, History is there for a reason. I believe in adaptations rather than updates, as well as modern context and cultural preferences. The framework doesn’t change all that much.