Why do I promote the health benefits of martial arts over the fighting or self defense?
Health is self defense. Most of us will be taken out or harmed by our own habits before violence comes our way. I’m not saying that we’re immune to violence. I am saying that through all the torn shoulders and knees I’ve seen in my life, the bad backs the sore necks, the hurt wrists, the ulcers, the obesity, the foot problems… I never heard that a gang showed held a gun to their head, and said “now give yourself a bad back, and stop eating well!!!” then punched them and ran out the door.
I work with more ex athletes due to injury than anything else. I also see more options to learn how to kick ass, and how to get in shape, and extreme boot camps, and things to toughen you up than to maintain your health through the practice. They’re everywhere. Marketed to the 25-44 year old person that may have fallen off the health wagon. So now that we haven’t kept up on our routines, we’re gonna get fit. Extremely fit.
Imagine taking a car that hasn’t been started in 10 years, and take it to a racetrack. Don’t put on new tires, don’t change the oil, just turn the key and floor it. Now… look at all the other race cars. They’re extreme cars, doing amazing things. Why…. Because every couple laps there’s a pit crew there to fix them because they’re beating the crap out of that car.
There’s an entire world of health and maintenance in Martial Arts training that is somewhat untapped. Tai chi, bagua, Yoga, qi gong… all this stuff is to keep us entertained while we learn to breathe… really. It doesn’t have to be so esoteric and mystical. We don’t have to move our energy and hover right out of the gate. It doesn’t have to be slow, serious, and zen. We just have to show up, and train your energy is moving.
I start with stability, then strength and flexibilty, then coordination. Then we can start rockin. Oh yeah. If you’re breathing during any of these exercises you’re doing qi gong. If you’re breathing while cutting onions or gardening, and mindful… you’re meditating. The forms are great for learning health, structure, and joint mobility, etc… but first… the habits of good mindful practice is the goal, so if you’re familiar with gym class exercises, lets meet you there, and give a lens of health and mindful intention, then we move forward.
I was told that deep relaxation through movement is a privilege of being in shape. So let’s get in shape first. With martial arts and with yoga. Having Van Damme sitting there in splits punching through bricks telling you to sink into a stance, relax and breathe while someone is trying to punch you is not gonna happen all at once. He know’s that too, It’s just a goal… Having someone in a loin cloth with their legs around their head telling you to relax while we’re just trying to touch our toes, stop the burning in the backs of our knees and not fart in a room full of sexy strangers is common as well. We have to have a foundation to be able to relax, start with showing up, breathing, and being there. Do what you can and be honest with yourself knowing that some things we’re good at and some things we haven’t gotten good at yet, but let’s take our time and get there safely so we can keep moving forward.