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Consciousness Levels

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In the early stages of his development the sculler focuses on the actual movements. He learns to feel the the precise path of each motion. The movements should be presented in a wholistic manner with the major emphasis being the recovery and the drive. For the recovery the swing from the hips is stressed  and for the drive phase the constant blade depth and the “pulling what you can handle” is emphasized. The actual details of the release and entry are set aside for the time being for the saker of putting the two wholes together, the recovery and the drive.

With time and practice these two movements become grooved and the the release and entry begin to take some semblance of the form that the sculler will eventually achieve. The object at this point is to keep the hands and fingers relaxed in holding the handles. this will greatly assists with the progress of these two movements. But by emphasizing the wholeness of these two major movements the consciousness level rises to another level  There is less energy expended. The total movement begins to become smoother. The individual action of the fingers and wrists gradually become more refined. The athlete becomes more confident in his sculling.

The overall effect on the consciousness is significant. It simply involves a different way of thinking. You have to completely devoid yourself of any hint of ego. Our reactions are not based upon our perception of ourselves within our world. You must have an expanded sense of your authentic self. You are completely stripped down to the bare minimum. You switch your thinking to an integrated and whole mode of thought. You begin to feel that you are melting into the surrounding environment. There is only a sliver of separation between you and the shell and the environment. There is no room for the ego.

The ego inhibits us from communicating with our shell and the present. In seeking to do this, we must strive to empty our mind of all our thoughts so that we start to become one with our boat and what is surrounding us. Once the ego leaves our minds we can replace it with the present, and now we are just doing and moving in the world that surrounds us. When we speak of ego we refer  to the fact that it is not self-centered, and to be positive, it is expansive and is connected and recognizes things and people and the wholeness of the world that we live in. It is a world-centric quality that the individual embraces. Thus tolerance, justice, and empathy are key ingredients to his personality.

Every aspect of the sculling takes on the quality of lightness and it becomes pure joy to scull.  This includes both the mind and the body. The movement becomes effortless. There is no struggle in the sculler’s mind as he perfects his timing and his subtle execution of the release and the entry. The blade slides into and out of the water at each end of the slide.  At this stage the sculler approaches becoming an artist and his sculling is an art form.

The consciousness gradually shifts from preoccupation with the gross movements of the trunk and legs to ever finer movements of the hands and fingers. Eventually the consciousness level of the sculler should be one of feeling immanent and transcendent. Both qualities are present in this flowing entry movement. The immanence is the more superficial aspect, the feeling of the various movements, and the transcendence represents the deeper aspect, the whole continuity of this easy movement. The latter is where the movement becomes intuitional; this is the flow of the movement. Eventually it transitions to a deep state of awareness. It almost becomes spiritual in nature in that the sculler achieves a relationship to the immensity of the universe and its qualities of continuous change. His probing with the mechanics and the workings of his mind and spirit go ever deeper and deeper.  He begins to recognize the changes in his own being and relates those changes to the world around him. He realizes that the line is thin between the leaf, the tree and the surrounding atmosphere. Where is the demarcation point? He feels that his body is experiencing the same with the thin line between himself the shell and the water.


Reply from Vince:

Hi Coach.. How are you?  Hope all is well. Presently we are in Boston.. Been down at your former employer earlier this week and we stopped and saw Ric on Tuesday.. He is well. We had fun chatting and plotting world domination.. He sends many good thoughts along  to you and Cele.. This essay is just so so how it is.. I must put a copy of this essay here up in the travel  van so I have it with me at all times .. I actually do not have a shell with me believe it or not on this trip.. I am frozen out at present.. Even the brackish pools along the coast are freezing in if they are to fresh watered.. At home we are now down to ice boats racing up and down the bay.. So hence a young oars’ fancy must turn to skating and skiing.. It could be much worse so this is good.. So yes this essay just tells us as it really is.. You know Tuesday Ric and I were talking about this very point of view which you have so nicely laid pen to paper with here. This is what we as oarsman seek out, attempt to assimilate our way of thought to, the warrior path to which we strive .. A way of being ..a way of travel thru our lives which we attempt to practician. This is a path and journey both in the physical and spiritual world which is not for the week of body, mind or spirit. The principles and concepts which you lay out for all to read come full circle to support the ideals which we describe as “Sculling being a metaphor for life” .. And in the vain “sculling is a sport for life”….. Your essay outlines some of the very methods which the oar should subscribe to both within his thoughts but also should precipitate forth from his physical interactions with his surrounding world.. This is neither an easy task, or a task which is easy to make part of ones being. However for those that accept this challenge it is a never ending journey and that is what makes champions, waterman, warriors, men that understand duty and men that understand honor..( we were saying one just needs to look at what the IOC and FISA are now doing to rowing for this next Olympic cycle..on all levels and fronts… Pure unadulterated rubbish)…  The principles of watermanship which have guided sculling for countless untold generations are now being trivialized, being marginalized in an effort to allow as many individuals as possible to attempt to gain what is actually nothing more than ” fake mastery” of both oarsmanship and/or coaching ability so that certain organizations, companies, individuals etc etc can profiteer.  While in the long haul this trivialization and attempted reduction of rowing to nothing more than Roman-Greco slave galleys thrashing about is going make it so that the actual participants get bored and neither stay in the sport or support it for very long.. For a sport to be a life sport it must have a very very long learning curve accessible to the hardy whom persevere.. If it is easy everyone does it ..however they don’t do it for long.. That is called a “fad”.. ….. Sculling like a “true waterman”  is anything but….. Very difficult for one to learn even the fundamentals of sculling body movement let alone how that integrates with the shell when one attempts to sit upon one… The orthodoxy would have you believe that it is ” mastered” once you have been to an ” authorized” sculling clinic and are water test certified.. Ok.. Sure enough… Yea right Eh?? So Coach. .. This is a wonderful piece and it just tells it like it is.. Myself if there was a young oar attempting to become a waterman.. He should read this at the beginning of his journey.. He will understand almost nothing he reads within this paper..He should then read it litterely about once every two million meters there after and compare his mental notes over that time to monitor his progress compared to this essay ..if his due diligence is honest and persevering then his understanding of the essay will broaden and his insight and vision of his surroundings will grow.  I base the distance for rereading on rowing about 50k meters/week/month .. Oh well Coach. Keep on writing. It’s great stuff and good for you too. Big big hugs. Sleep well… Vincey Boy..


Reply from Liz:

Hi Jimmy,

Wow. This is Quantum “spooky entanglement.” You observe the particle and we, as your twin, experience being one with you via your words. I have consumed your level 33 sculling epiphany-psychedelic and have experienced a mad rush of vicarious clarity. This is a real keeper. An elegant and inspiring identification of the apex in the journey of the Master sculler; of pure connection, the whole. I agree with Vince that this should be posted nearby and read often. It inspires the pilgrim with a glorious glimpse of the destination. Loving it!

Thank you,

Liz K

James C. Joy
Over his long career as athlete, coach, teacher and mentor, Jimmy has touched directly and indirectly thousands in the rowing community. From novices to national, world and Olympic champions, and for coaches at many levels, all have benefited from his holistic and technical approach to a cyclical non-fragmented stroke where there is a strong bond between body, shell and the water creating a state of flow within an integrated whole.
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