Learning tensho

When I got the chance to learn Tensho kata (blackbelt/brownbelt course), and took in as much as I could and practised it as soon as I went home,  like I knew that my best mate mike was doing. The mental pressure of going for Shodan was getting to me, so I decided I would focus for three months on Tensho and try to engrain it into my muscle memory, a lot like when I was in China and I spent three months learning Sanzhan.

I didn’t do this on the arrogant assumption that I could master it in a short time, but I wanted to commit it to memory so I can work on it for years and years, and to influence in my sparring. It made an immediate effect I was able to defend and attack much more easily. The effects I could feel on my health specify my tight shoulders was immediate, I don’t think they have been as tight since I learnt tensho, it felt a lot like doing qigong very relaxing and peaceful and a great way to make me feel calm.

The only down side in this period wasn’t to do with tensho, but my main focus on using it so sparring partners could start to read my patterns again and I reluctantly realised that mike was right that I needed to work on my main kata so in my last few months I focused on them to bring me a balance back into my sparring.

It is really interesting to see a correlation between focusing on a type of kata at home and how it affects your sparring, I had a very hard spar with a mate who well is a big muscular guy (I’ll talk more of the details in my next post). A mate told me that even know he was a lower kyu than me; I wouldn’t stand a chance even if I reached blackbelt. This annoyed me, as  although I am not arrogant to be told a potential blackbelt wouldn’t have a chance in a real hard fight just fuelled my fire, I know anyone can beat anyone, and a big guy has a better chance over a little guy, but I had to prove to myself that skill can triumphant.

So with My Shodan grading looming closer and these words just fuelled a fire deep within the pit of my soul, so when we partnered up for several rounds, I was in war mode. I’ve always been intimidated by him although he is a pal of mine,  I wasn’t going  to let up I was going to be close quarters all the way.

It was one of my favourite spars anywhere, using techniques from tensho and Sanchin I stuck close to him, fired in knees, stopped his barrage of punches and fired in my own, I was surprised when he went crashing into the wall he couldn’t cope.  I didn’t think it was me, but my use of tensho and Sanchin I was proving to myself that they worked against a bigger aggressive opponent. At one stage we both roared at each other it was such a primal time. When the fights were over we gave each (and terry because we had to fight him in preparation for his badge, which I helped by kicking him through a table by accident, I promise we aren’t normally that hard! Just now and then a good hard spar makes you feel good) a big hug I thanked him for giving me the strength to believe I could survive with someone like him. To me it wasn’t about winning or losing it was about could I go toe to toe within and make it through the end as and be able to carry on if I needed.

I asked terry if he noticed I was using anything in particular, (apart from my knees of course) and the answer surprised me I was expecting him to describe bits of tensho but he was showing me that I was mainly using Sanzhan to get in and attack. I didn’t even know at the time that the hands could be used to parry the strikes before they could even lock out before you hit them with full extended strikes. The lessons from winter school were obviously still resonating within me and I hadn’t realised its direct correlation to Sanzhan.

To me the holy trinity of Sanchin, Tensho and Sanzhan are the foundations of how I want to fight, and anytime  I focus on one, the other two start to improve, but it is important for me to remember that they are the foundations and not the art on its own, I must practice other kata to further my growth, I must try out new things in sparring practice basics more.  Tensho has already showed how much in can improve you and what happens if you have too much of one kata on the mind when sparring.

Keep training, never give up. OSU.

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