Smoak, Bledsoe, and Slo-Mo Training

Dalai Lama 'An Open Heart' Dept.

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Malcontent sez,

 

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Hey Doc, what are your thoughts on Smoak's new training method(written up at Baker's blog)? The technique sounds like it makes sense, wouldn't it be fun to see a Saunders-like resurgence, with the new shorter fences.
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Matty sez,
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Baker's piece yesterday on Smoak's new training regimen (including "slow practice" and aiki-like first principles of mental readiness and simplification, as well as the revelation that Smoak should be a "pitch stalk" hitter) made me think of you...sounded like a Dr.'s Rx to me. :)

So...what say you?

Geoff Baker sez,

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A closer look

Just kidding.  But those who "get" Baker will note the air of comparative respect at the Bakery as it pertains to Bledsoe's work.  Baker is usually quite skeptical when it comes to this type of story, but withholds the skepticism on this one.  As so often, Baker's judgment turns out to be right.

Not to make a value judgment or anything, Bledsoe's work is (a) wonderful, (b) undoubtedly Smoak's last chance to fix himself, on a physical level, and (c) an approach that will undoubtedly work, on a physical level.

Will explain precisely why we say so.

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=== Therein Lies a Story, Dept. ===

Bledsoe's work is, consciously or subconsciously, an attempt to adapt Eastern thought in a Western context.  For those who just joined us, of whom there are thankfully many lately, Asian cultural thought is an area of great interest for Dr. D.  Especially as it pertains to budo generally and sports movements specifically.  Sports mechanics are a sub-topic within the topic of budo.  Slinging a stone has a lot in common with throwing a baseball; archery has a lot in common with throwing a football.

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I first studied aikido at Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America.  (Entrance pictured above.)  At the time, this dojo was the only legitimate Shinto shrine on the continent.  Barrish Sensei is the doshu (head) of his own (worldwide) ryu, as well as a Shinto priest.  

For those amigos there IS no separation between physical movement and mental attitude.  At a time when I didn't think anybody else could "wow" me, this guy's aikido definitely did so, 3-on-1, 4-on-1, whatever.  And the aikido flowed from his personality, his way of life.

When he teaches aikido, it's axiomatic to him to teach it first in slooowwwwww motion, agonizingly slow motion, sometimes while standing in frigid glacier water.  There's a reason ........

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The past week or so, I've been tearing apart one of the Dalai Lama's books, word-by-word, virtually rephrasing the whole thing in an attempt to "grok" it.  Have done this several times before, to this same book.  Am pretty serious about trying to benefit from those ideas within Buddhism which are accurate.

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Have read Ichiro's book, and The Tao of Jeet Kune Do (hasn't everybody?), and as you might guess, have grok'ked them from a spiritual point of view more than from a physical point of view.  

When Ichiro gazes into the facade of the upper deck just before a pitch, that is the point of preparation that interests me, even more than the ..... drumroll .... SLOW MOTION golf swings that he takes when he's on deck.

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Point is, I think I got an idea about what it is that Bledsoe and Smoak are trying to do, and what the plusses and minuses of this approach are, and especially the LIMITS (or not) of what such benefits might be.  

Matt asked what I meant when I called it a "softball" question.  Well, it's a little bit like asking Al Gore "do you have any thoughts on biodiesel by any chance?" ...

Glad you asked  :: locals roll eyes as Gore starts winding up ::

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