I was at the dojang today and because we only had a few people and thus space to do so, we spent time working with staff. One thing I did was work on a staff form, Joong Bong Il Hyung (middle staff, 1st form). You can see a portion of the form here:
Notice at the beginning of that clip how the gentleman is doing 360º turns? I spent a lot of time on that today because I always have problems with that movement. I know the theory of what to do, like a figure skater that you need to turn your head all the way and focus your eyes on some point, keeping your head level, and so on, yet still it gives me trouble. However something hit me today that worked like a dream.
I took a cue from my motorcycle riding. On a motorcycle you look where you want to go. Where you look, that’s where you will go. So if you look down, you will go down. If you look through the turn, you’ll glide gracefully through the turn. Looking is very important to motorcycle riding. I noticed when I was turning that while I looked, I was only looking at the end points… that I start facing north (if you will) and look north, then I perform the 360º pivot and work to lock my eyes 360º around at the end point. But what am I doing with my eyes during the turn? Well, I wasn’t looking at much of anything… my eyes just went, wherever, I couldn’t tell you.
What I did was ensured that as I turned, my eyes stayed involved. No I didn’t still focus on any points during the turn, but your eyes still have to do something… they will still be looking, they will still be taking in whatever whirrs past them. So what I did was kept my eyes level the whole time. My eyes were semi-actively scanning and taking in everything on a plane parallel to the ground… kept it all level, kept my eyes involved. And lo… I was steady. I could pivot and rotate without any problem.
This has other implications too. Not just for empty hand martial arts skills (e.g. helping with 360º spin kicks, turning back kicks, etc.), but even for other tactical matters. I did notice while I was turning, while I wasn’t actively looking at anything, I was certain that I was taking in a great deal of visual information… I was far more aware of what was going on around me (duh!). Just goes to show that we’re not always aware of what we’re doing, and these little things can matter.