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Class Notes – Ichimonji no Kamae

February 29, 2012

This lesson was mainly a re-look at the ichimonji lesson from September 2011. We didn’t really get past the same henka of that lesson, but that was OK for two reasons:

1) You need more time on them in order to drill them into a somewhat useable state. Or if “drill” is a bad word to you (as it is to some Bujinkan instructors), then think of it as giving your body time to really own the henka.

2) I spent more of the class time scaffolding my students up to that point anyway, so it was still beneficial for them.

What is Scaffolding?

Scaffolding is a temporary structure used to support people and material when constructing buildings. In a teaching context, it refers to breaking down a complex idea or task into its component parts and teaching those parts in different ways.

The important part about scaffolding, however, is once the students actually grasp the concepts and all that, you let go of the scaffolding and stop using it.

Anyway, one primary scaffolding exercise I used this week was stance training – standing in ichimonji for an extended period of time.

I don’t see other instructors doing this. My sensei told me that his instructor did it once when training with a senior teacher in Japan, but that was about it. He was told to get into ichimonji, then left there for an hour. When the senior teacher came back, he said my sensei’s instructor got it wrong, fixed it a little bit, then left him again…

Don’t worry, I am not THAT cruel!

Stance training gives two main benefits:

1) Conditioning – you build your leg strength quite quickly when you do stance training with a kamae such as ichimonji, doko or hicho no kamae.

2) More importantly, it builds within a beginner a spatial awareness of his or her body. We are moving around a lot all day, and tend to do it in a haze, not aware of what is going on in our posture. Standing in one position forces us to notice where we hold tension, our weight distribution and other aspects of our body as well. It is the start of integrating the body and unifying the parts we have been keeping separate for too long…

I realized that over time I am starting to place more emphasis on conditioning for my students. I am keeping it focused on what is applicable for them in the taijutsu context, either for now or a few months down the road, but it is still quite a big step for me. But I believe it will bear fruit and accelerate my students’ progress.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes! 🙂

俊傑 (Shunketsu)

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