Friday, July 10, 2009

The Gumby Analogy

My instructor uses Gumby as an analogy to explain the flexibility, relaxation, whipping motion needed in Okinawa Kenpo Kobudo techniques. In the kata Shima Igiri Bo, the hallmark technique is the large flowing back swings. The Bo is like a whip with the emphasis on the last few inches of the technique. Relaxation, flow, flexibility is imperative and is the source of the Gumby reference. You can find small Gumby figurines holding miniature Okinawa Kenpo Kobudu wooden weapons (a gift from one of the black belts) in the office of the Honbu.

Understanding flexible movement sounds like a relatively simple concept. However, it may take considerable practice to execute the techniques with the correct balance of relaxation, flexibility, rotation and tension. When I hear the word Gumby, I immediately think about flexibility and the kata Shima Igiri Bo. If we take the Gumby analogy further, in addition to flexible movement, it is important to have a flexible mind in regards to martial arts.

What are some of the benefits of a flexible mind in the martial arts?

A flexible mind will be receptive to a broad range of teaching styles.
A flexible mind will accept and apply correction.
A flexible mind will be open to other martial arts styles and look for the similarities.
A flexible mind will embrace the tradition of keeping kata “one way, keep straight, and don’t change” while simultaneously understanding the need to make kata “your own”.
A flexible mind will see many points of view.

In my opinion, the above list offers a few examples of the benefits of a flexible mind. I am sure there are more benefits for martial arts and for daily life.

I would love to hear your thoughts.


Rick Matz said...

Having a clear mind, what you're calling a flexible mind, has been my goal all along. It's not always clear, to be sure; but when it is, the benefits and advantages are huge.

SG said...

A flexible mind will be able to accept the peaks and valleys inevitable in one's practice and not let the valleys deter him or her from continuing. Even when it seems a plateau has been reached in skill level, the flexible mind continues to seek solutions and remains open to the ideas of others.

Michele said...

Thank you for your comments.

SG - Thank you for visiting my site. I stopped by your site and enjoyed reading the Martial Arts Philosophy...especially the section on practice.