Mirrors, Mirrors on the Wall
How the heck do I use you??
The hombu has some really nice mirrors. They’re great for making sure my obi is tied evenly and my “Suck it up Cupcake” headband is on straight. They’re even great for checking to see how red my face is during a workout.
But as a workout tool, I’m having mixed results.
For 6+ years I learned without mirrors, except for my visits to the hombu. Dodgeball courts don’t normally have mirrors. We mostly learned things by feel – stances, blocks, strikes were corrected and we learned what feels right, as opposed to what looks right.
Occasionally I could use a window with a darkened hallway behind it as a mirror. But for the most part, we learned kata by following behind Kyoshi while he was leading, and then he would have to turn around and show us any intricate moves he was doing that we couldn’t see.
I wished we had mirrors in the dodgeball court. I thought it would be easier to learn moves with them, and for some things, I still believe that. I like ghosting an opponent, using my reflection in the mirror to see where my punches and blocks might land. I like checking my stances in the mirror, seeing if my feet and hips are in the correct position. And I like being able to see what my training partner is doing when one of us is learning self-defense techniques.
Mirrors can also be useful when learning kata. I can see what Kyoshi or another student is doing even if they aren’t in front of me. But recently I was learning Chinto and trying to follow Kyoshi using both Real Kyoshi and Mirror Kyoshi, and the mirrors were really distracting! I wasn’t sure which Kyoshi I should watch. My mistake was in going back and forth between the two. I was so confused I waffled between frustration and laughter.
Me: “I always thought it would be great to have mirrors. But now that I have them, I don’t know how to use them!”
Kyoshi: “They’re messing you up, aren’t they?”
They were! I didn’t know where to look. It was funny and not funny at the same time.
But wait! I may have figured it out! If I’m a total rookie on a new kata, trying to match my movements to the figure in the mirror throws me off. I need to go back to the way I learned for 6+ years and follow Real Kyoshi. But if I know the kata a little bit, I can follow Mirror Kyoshi because the mirrors are just a prompt to the movements.
Familiar Kata = Mirror
New Kata = No Mirror
I’ll give that a try. Do you use mirrors? Do you find them helpful or distracting?