Why we train. Sensitivity training in the Martial Arts is not just about knowing where the next punch is coming from. It's more about being aware. Being aware of your surroundings. Being aware of yourself. Sure, it's nice to feel that next punch BEFORE it comes, and the exercises I will describe here will help develop the sensitivity. But the main purpose is to bring you back in tune with yourself and your surroundings. A little background may be in order before we start. Try to sneak up on an animal. Do it stealthily, making no sound. Did the animal catch you? Did they seem to know to move before you got there, or look around at you? What were you thinking while sneaking up on the animal? Domestic animals (dogs and cats) are easier to sneak up on than wild animals (squirrels or feral cats or raccoons, etc). Why is that? Babies. How many of you have an infant at home? Raise your hands, let's see them. Ever walk into the nursery (or bedroom) while the baby is sleeping? Or lying there awake playing by their selves? And did they turn towards you, even though you crept quietly into the room? Animals and infants have a greater awareness of the world than we give them credit for. It's not so much the animal's superior senses but it's awareness of its surroundings that make it hard to sneak up on. Babies have that same awareness. So did you and I, but society burned it out of us. Some of us still have it to one degree or another (do crowds make you nervous? I have a theory that it's because we are still too sensitive to our surroundings and all the people around us set our senses haywire). As we get older, our parents tell us it's all in our heads, or we learn to "tune it out" in order to cope with the influx of new sensations and changes in our surroundings. We can gain this sensitivity back and learn to adjust it, so to speak, so that we benefit from it. Train with an open heart and mind and shelve the skepticism until you've given the exercises a chance. Be mindful of your environment everyday in every way. Approach these exercises as a learning experience, a game. Don't approach them with a hard heart or closed mind. Don't treat them as life or death and above all, don't get frustrated by the results. Practice at least one of the exercises at least twice or thrice a week. You will feel the results. At first, they will be subtle. You may not notice the results at first, but they will manifest themselves in small ways. Change out your training partners as often as feasible, familiarity can influence the results. But, if you only have one partner, practice anyway. It's better than none. 2 Person Exercises. Exercise One Torus stands with eyes closed (or blindfolded). Uke walks quietly around Tori and at random intervals, reaches out to touch Tori. Uke does not touch Tori, but just reaches out as if to touch. Torus raises their hand and points in the direction they feel the Uke reaching from. Do this exercise for 10 minutes and then change roles. Exercise Two Tori sits/kneels (depends on you, I sit because bad knees make it harder to kneel) on ground with eyes closed. Exercise follows the same steps as Exercise One. Again, Uke walks as quietly as possible, Tori waits for the feeling that they are about to be touched. Do this for 10 minutes and then change roles. A little note here as to what to expect as a "feeling". I can't tell you. Honest. For each person it can be different. Sometimes I feel a tingling warmth in the area that's being "touched" sometimes it's an overall "oops, here it comes". Play with it; be aware of what you feel and when it feels different. Exercise Three Tori sits or stands (your choice), eyes closed. Uke again, walks around you reaching out to touch you at random intervals. However, the feeling here is different on the part of the Uke. This time, Uke's job is to project intent when reaching out. Project a strong intent to slam, hammer, bludgeon, or strike, whatever feeling you can muster. Project it with all the feeling you can as you reach out slowly to touch Tori. Tori's job is to raise a hand in the direction of the feeling, but if you feel the intent strong enough, move. Not far and not fast, just move out of the way. Exercise Four Tori stands, blindfolded (use a blindfold in the next two exercises). Uke grabs Tori anywhere on body. Be it sleeve, arm, wrist, lapel, shoulder.. well you get the idea. Tori's objective here is a slow, controlled takedown or counter. Key words here, slow and controlled. The object is not to do a textbook technique but rather to learn how to feel where your opponent is. You can't see them. They could be standing in front of you, beside you, standing tall and off balance or sunk low and centered. Take your time; this is the classroom after all, so there is room for mistakes. Do the takedown/counter slowly and with control. Release when Uke taps or says to let go. Do this 5 or 6 times and change positions. Repeat. Exercise Five Tori stands, blindfolded. Uke steps back slightly more than arms length away (again, play with and find the best spot for you) and punches Tori. Please, remember this is a training exercise, a game. Not a macho contest. The punch should be walked in slowly, but with intent. Feel your punch caving in Tori's chest, just don't actually hit them. You will lose too many training partners that way. Walk the punch in slowly but with feeling/intent. Tori moves when they feel the punch. Does not matter if they feel it at 5 feet or as it touches them. Tori moves when they feel it. No counter, just shift to the side. Step back and shift body away from punch. Play with this one. Shift back for a few times then sink back. As the punch comes in, sink back so that the Uke actually has to lean in with the punch (thereby taking away their balance). If you get touched, don't worry. If you move too early, again, don't worry. It's an exercise. A game. Play with it. Remember the point of these exercises is to help you increase your awareness of your surroundings. Rely on your other senses. Hearing, touch. As you do these exercises, you should feel less dependent on your senses and listen more to your body as a whole. Don't get frustrated. Get touched or hit? Laugh about and do it again. Remain relaxed thru out the exercise. Group Exercises Exercise One Best played with at least 5 people. The more the merrier. One person is the Tori. Everyone else forms a circle around Tori, while Tori closes eyes (blindfold best, removes the urge to cheat). One person at a time enters the circle and tries to tap Tori on the body. If Tori points at person before they tap, they change places and become the new Tori. Exercise Two Again, best played with 5 or more people. Tori (It) stands in center of circle. This time people in circle face outwards. "It" then tries to tap someone on back. If the person being tapped catches "It" before being tapped, "It" stays in center. If 1) the "It"taps someone. That person takes over as "It". If someone looks back into circle and they are not he intended victim, then they become "It". Play with these exercises. . Put aside your skepticism and approach them with an open heart and mind and you stand to gain tremendously from them. These exercises do work, but remember, you only get out of it, what you put into it. Any questions, email or PM me. I'll be more than happy to answer them.