At the request of Treeman, I'll give you a little background on my martial arts life. Please bear in mind that this is by request. I hope that I don't come across as a braggart. I'm turning in part one of a homework assignment.
My MA career started back in 1981. As part of our gym class, we offered to take judo as one of our electives. My buddies and I jumped all ofer that. At about the same time I got involved with the SCA, Society of Creative Anachronism. The folks in Atlanta's Blackburn Park know them as the "boffers". It's an org. that does middle ages style full contact weapons combat. Look it up on the net. You'll find out more than I want to go into here. I did this for 10 years. In 1984 my karate career began in earnest.
The system I belong to is called Goshin Jutsu Karate. You can find us on the web @ goshinjutsu.org. Click on the blackbelt registry page and you'll see my mug in the group shot. Front row, left side, seated. Grand Master Joe Brague is in the 2nd row, 5th from the left, standing. The info on the page is a tad outdated for a few of us, as I currently hold a 7th degree blackbelt.
If you go to the history page you'll see a brief history of our system. But basicaly it's a Japanese system with a strong chinese influence. It originated from the southern white crane style of kung fu from the Fukien Prov. of China. Traveled into the Okinawan city of Naha and was blended in with the native style of karate. So what we have today is a style that uses the circuler/anguler defences of the Chinese and the liner attack of the okinawan style. We also practise the art of Aiki Jutsu, which is the art that aikido, jujutsu, and judo come from. It's very painful. I would rather get kicked hard than have the aiki joint manipulations done to me.
We also do an assortment of weapons. But I'll go over that at some other point, to be determined by anyone interrested.
That's it in a nut shell. Feel free to ask questions. I love to talk about this part of my lifestyle with those who are interrested. I won't bore the non interrested with the details.
So I have a question. With all of your experience in martial arts AND tree climbing, how has the martial arts helped your tree climbing technique?
Having been in the martial arts myself for many years, I found my sense of balance and particularly my stances (how I stand) in the trees enhanced from the fighting arts. My in canopy throws were greatly influenced by the use of corded weapons (Manriki gusari and corded sticks).
Anyone else here a martial artist?
2chops- It is only fitting that you fell into tree climbing as a professional. Long hours of combat-like work with motorized cutting tools. Awesome!
I would have to start my answer with the topics of breathing and focus. As with any activity, proper breathing is essential to enhanced performance. Your breath is like the electrical current that allows a light to light. No current = darkness. Meditate on this. Also, one is more relaxed, therefore giving onesself more endurrence and thus enhanced ability to focus.
Focus...lets face it, if you aren't well focussed on the task at hand when climbing...Darkness. Meditate on this. Like in the MA, one of the things I enjoy about climbing is immersing myself in the process. I am a kata man. Love it. Most hate it. But it is in the kata that all the "secrets" are hidden. If you give yourself to the mindfull practice of the kata, the afore mentioned "secrets" will reveal themselves to you. As applied to tree climbing, being mindfull of what you're doing not only keeps you tying the right knot the right way, but you naturally overcome your preset "height ceiling". Before you know it, the 15' mark that may have been "as far as it goes" for you before, is bypassed and there you are at 40' and digging it. Focus on a specific process at hand is what allows you to block out periphial distractions, ie. fear, and achieve new heights. This is part of attaining personal "enlightenment". I don't mean that in some wierd esoteric way. Just that you learn something about yoursef and what you may be capable of in other areas. I could go on much longer on this topic, but I'll leep it at this for now. I"ve given some very lengthy orations on thissubject. I'm told that it was quite good. But, enuff said 4 now.
Also, like you've mentioned, Treeman, the balance, positioning thing also applies. I sometimes do some white crane stuff while aloft. June has some pics of it on her phone. Perhaps I'll do a little tree kata and post it sometime.
As for falling into tree climbing, yes you bring up a good point. But let me say this...I have no intention of falling out of tree climbing.
Similarities between martial arts and tree climbing? Definitely.
I had been climbing for 7 years in 1990 when I took up Karate. My climbing was in beech trees mainly, where I climbed directly on the branches, weaving through them slowly and carefully and barely touching them with my body.
I found that my sense of balance as well as my intuitive feel for the reach of all 4 limbs was very well developed from climbing. I could do a thrusting kich to the front or side and stop my foot less than an inch from the wall or whatever was there almost immediately, in the same way that I knew exactly which branches I my feet could reach and what would happen to my state of balance before I made a move.
I'm not very supply naturally but I knew how to turn my body and hips to get my leg into all sorts of positions and weave through some very strange spaces. Climbing made me better at Karate and in time Karate gave me more suppleness, patience and stamina.
My movement now is so smooth and balanced that I think it has more in common with T'ai Chi than Karate.
Hi michael, Sorry it took me so long to reply. But things have been nuts.
Interresting note about T'ai Chi and Karate. Many years ago when I was a brown belt, I spent 3 years focusing primarily on my breathing and balance. I didn't see the point in taking T'ai Chi lessons in addition to my karate. So I figured that doing karate real slow was the same thing. This also helped me tap into the White Crane roots of our system. One of the exersizes I came up with is called "one movement per breath". Here's how it works. Pick a kata, or any multi movement combanation. Standing in a ready stance, draw in a deep breath. As you slowly exhale, do only the 1st movement of your kata. This breath should be very slow. Pause, inhale again and repeat exhale and movement for technique 2. Keep going through the whole kata. What happens is that you very quickly find your Center, and learn to relax durring the movement phase and only "tense" at the point of impact. I call this hitting your qi point. A 60 second kata turns into a 30 minute kata. Focus increases exponentially.
I still do this and have my students do this on a regular basis. Lots of fun in sets that never leave kiba dachi.
I told you all of that to tell you this...try this while on a climb. Breath in, advance once, pause, repeat. Just like the meditative walking I learned when I spent some time with a Zen Budhist monk years ago. Interresting lady. I plan on giving it a go soon. Meditative climbing that is, not the walking. To tell you the truth, I don't know why I haven't done it before. It never crossed my mind till now. So I thank you for jogging that idea loose from the gray matter.
Hi Ron, Now it's my turn to apologise - I too have been very busy!
I see what you mean about holding wide stances for long periods of time. I end up in similar stances to Kiba Dachi (horse straddle) when climbing - particularly on rocks and sometimes there is no choice but to hold it while resting your arms, putting in protection or figuring out what to do next.
There is a tendancy to think about how tiring it is and how you can't hold it for much longer but my Karate classes taught me that if I can stop thinking about those things and focus on something else then I realise that I have much more stamina than I would have believed.
You seem to be a very high level Karateka, whereas I only did it for a couple of years and drifted away from it at University. I did Seido Karate, founded in New York by Tadashi Nakamura in the late 1960's. It's a very traditional style. The classes are openend and closed with a ceremony and there is a long period of developing stances, technique and kata before any contact fighting. I had only been sparring a couple of months when I went to the English Karate Championchips.
The funny thing is that I became English Champion in my category because I was the only beginner from any club who had entered!