Friday, January 1, 2010

Martial Arts Dog Breakthrough

In every student of the martial arts, there (hopefully at least) comes the day when they make a discovery and say "holy sh--! this works!"

After about 5 years, on and off (mostly off due to problems w/ illness and car and life challenges - therefore no fault of my sensei that it took this long for me) I got mine.

First I need to introduce the dog.  Zen is a 13 month old pit bull mix.  He weighs about 65 lbs, pretty hefty for a pit who isn't even fully grown.  And he's a bundle of energy.  Doesn't help that we live in a condo and due to the flu, crappy weather and a positively evil downstairs neighbor (a story for another time, perhaps) he hasn't gotten some of the exercise or discipline he needs lately.

Despite the fact that I outweigh Zen considerably, he's got four legs for extra traction and a ton of energy.  Consider that some people use these dogs for the canine version of tractor pulls.  And yeah, these dogs (with the right harness and training) CAN pull a car!  Every time I take him out it's a challenge, and lately I've been working on making him sit every time he starts to pull.  The idea is that he'll learn that pulling means he doesn't get to go forward.

So here I am walking the dog today, and he starts to pull, and I pull him in and make him sit and something makes me take note of my posture.  Left forward stance, downblock.  Didn't even consider it as I did it, just moved into that stance naturally, and the puppy comes very easily to a dead stop. Even then I didn't quite "get it".  A few yards later Zen pulls again and I go into a middle inside block and the puppy reels in, almost no effort on my part.

This time I catch on to what I'm doing, and on the rest of the way home I consciously go into a block position each time I need to reel in the dog.  Works beautifully.  Magically even.  My feet are planted strong into the earth giving me balance and control that even my 4-legged monster can't pull me off base.

Domo arigato, sensei.  I think I'm finally starting to get it!

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