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Day Six: Saturday, April 25

Music
none

Mistakes

  • Taegeuk Pal Jang (conflated with Taegeuk O Jang, did entire second half of the wrong form, didn’t realize until last technique!)
  • Chintae (transposed downblock with suto block at beginning of last segment)
  • Osipsabo (stepped forward instead of backward on turn into final segment)

Conclusions

Because I got a late start on Saturday and didn’t want to delay lunch, I decided to do this session with no breaks between forms, no water, and to perform them in a way I sometimes suggest for new students learning their first form. When students become overly obsessed with getting every detail right (i.e. going slowly and mechanically to avoid making any mistakes), I have them do the form with no power and focus on connecting one technique to the next. I ask them to use mild snap at the end of each technique, but to avoid any pause whatsoever, to make sure there’s not even one instant of “dead air” between techniques, even if it comes at the cost of technical sharpness.

Because each form has no pauses anywhere (except for interpretive elements where it’s necessary to the form’s meaning) they take less time, even though no individual technique is actually moving faster than usual. In a hurry, I figured this was a good way to get done quickly. When I logged the first group of forms, I saw that it had taken me just 10 minutes to finish the first 17, though these are of course the most basic and shortest. I finished the whole set in 46 minutes, plus about four for jotting notes about errors, getting weapons out of cases, and so forth.

I once spoke with a well-known journalist, Charles Bowden, who wrote for a local paper (I forget which city, maybe somewhere in the midwest?) before making it to the big time when he was regularly getting book deals and publishing in The Atlantic Monthly and Harper’s and the like. He was a good writer with a clean and recognizable style, and he was telling me about how the relentless pace of hitting deadlines at a small newspaper was great discipline for getting work done later in his career. “When you’re a serious writer, you have certain standards for your prose, and it’s painful to just have to get the story done, whether it’s ‘good’ or not. After you do it for a while, you find that writing fast is worse. . . but not that much worse.”

So it was with today’s forms: I made the same 3 mistakes that seems to be turning into the ballpark for a typical day, and even individual techniques weren’t as sharp as they normally would be. . . but they weren’t that much worse.

I also found that going fast led to one useful insight: today the mistakes I made were mostly in the more advanced or unfamiliar forms, not just popping up randomly. Never pausing meant I never had the chance to think, even in those microseconds when pivoting or preparing. This exposed the transitions that I hadn’t quite internalized in two of the traditional forms, but it also made me more focused on the easier, more familiar forms. Simply removing time to let my mind wander made it easier not to take the Pal Gwe and Taegeuk forms for granted; I didn’t make mistakes on most of the forms I knew well and generally felt especially locked in throughout.

Post Series: Solo Poomsae
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