New Schedule and Location for 2016

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How to become great at tai-sabaki

In the past year I've had a couple of very interesting compliments from a couple of interesting sources.
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One was from a boxer who has been doing the sweet science for some years now, who has been training MMA-types, and who has successfully used his boxing skills in self-defense situations.  He got to looking at some of the stuff I do and what do you think impressed him most?  Was it the big amplitude spine-smashing judo throws, the beautiful aikido projections, or the precision of the jodo?  No, it was my footwork.  He goes on and on every time we meet about how if there is one thing that I understand and can do and teach better than anyone he knows, it's footwork.
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The other compliment was from a former amateur wrestler who loved to get into (and win) streetfights but who has since grown up into a real nice guy.  He came to play with me a while back at a judo class and what do you suppose impressed him?  Slippery ground mobility?  Cool submissions?  Great tachiwaza?  Nope. It was the footwork.  We worked for a couple of hours on various cool technical stuff and after a while he stepped back and shook his head and said it was my footwork that was amazing - that I really had good control of where my feet were going every time I put them down - that more often than not I put my feet down in just the right place the first time I moved them.
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Thanks guys!  I really appreciate that, especially from folks that have had to put their skills to the test.  See, what they were calling footwork, we call taisabaki - body management, and it includes elements of footwork, evasion, yielding, timing, and structure especially in legs and hips.  Tai-sabaki is one of the 2-3 most important foundational skills in all martial arts.  It is also one of the least glamorous and most under-practiced skills.
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There was this genius therapist named F.M. Alexander who was asked one time, "How can I learn to do the amazing things you can do?"  He responded, "Anyone can do the things I've done.  All you have to do is do all the things I've done."
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So, how did I get to be so widely-recognized as the foremost master of ashi-sabaki in the world? :-) All you have to do is spend 5-10 minutes at the beginning of every class for 20 years, slowly, deliberately, obsessively, systematically contemplating and experimenting with balance, weight shifting, and efficiency in your footwork and structure.
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Sounds like a lot.  Like a daunting task.  But it's only 5-10 minutes of your warm-up and it has this cool snowball effect.  That 5-10 minutes improves everything else that you do.


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Patrick Parker
www.mokurendojo.com