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Learning Patterns Without Seeing by Torfinn Opedal

Learning Patterns Without Seeing by Torfinn Opedal

Learning Patterns Without Seeing

Performing patterns is an important part of practicing a martial art, however, this proves to be a challenge as I am blind. The question then becomes: How do I learn patterns?

When learning a new pattern, I usually start by having the instructor explaining the movements and techniques as detailed as possible; interpreting what other practitioners would see. It then becomes very important that an instructor is good at visual interpretation. This takes a lot of practice, and is an invaluable skill to an instructor with blind students. The next step in learning a pattern would then be to physically correct my techniques by moving my arm or my leg to the right position in the right order. To make this step more easily, I often use pads and targets so I can feel how it would impact an opponent.

Developing a short-hand between me and my instructor becomes very important when explaining how to do certain techniques. This is invaluable, and a good instructor will find easy ways of communicating, while a bad one would say “do it like this” without any further explanation. Furthermore, a good instructor needs to know and explain the application a technique has, as it then becomes easier for me to visualise how I am supposed to execute them.

Facing my body in the right direction at the right time is another challenge to me when performing several techniques. I practice this by having “opponents” standing in the direction I am about to turn to, which makes it easier to hear which way I am going. After a while, I learn to feel how much I need to rotate without any guidance.

Bunkai makes patterns in general, and practicing with a partner more realistic, and it also makes it easier for me to know how to execute techniques.

When instructing people with disabilities, the instructors should acknowledge that no two disabilities are the same. A good instructor should ask what works and does not for the disabled practitioner – at least until they develop a relationship that works for both parts and a suitable short-hand is established.

Torfinn Opedal

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