Caveman Antics

Friday night I was still feeling sniffy and snorty, so we packed off to Academie Duello’s Fight Night with just the camera. It wasn’t as busy and active a night as last time, but there was a good collection of friends. I took a bunch of photos, and chatted.

It’s funny how the best of intentions can be corrupted out from under you. Standing in a room full of swords, how can you not pick one up and start swinging it around? And when a student asks a question, how can you not answer? And demonstrate. And so the night finishes with some slow-ish speed stick sparring. And now I’m drenched in sweat, so I need a beer. Or three.

So still sick today, for some reason. But I’m opting to take the other route to health now. I figure the illness has assumed the form of micro-gnomes hiding in the lymphatic system, and I need to boot them out with sweat and vigorous physical activity. Fortunately, I had a session scheduled with a client this morning so I could get started on that.

Today we worked on Balance as a theme, starting with standing, then walking, and then moving into balance while hanging and supporting yourself. Finished up with a refresher on the 5×5 drill that I introduced in our last session. Wound up chatting at the end about our mutual background in Asian martial arts, and that got me thinking about differences between Western and Asian martial arts.

The modern, popular Western martial arts like boxing (to be clear, the modern kind, with gloves and only using the hands, not the kind I usually mean) or wrestling or fencing focus on results above all else. It’s just dandy to have a body that cripples and falls apart with age, as long as it is capable of winning contests when you are young.

To continue with the gross simplification, Asian arts focus on body posture and alignment above all else. The emphasis is usually called “chi” or similar, but the result on the participant is a good grounding in overall body mechanics. Good balance, adaptive movement mechanics, etc.

I was at the first 4w event in Seattle. It had a short one hour workshop on Body Mechanics run by Guy Windsor, which had a huge impact on me. I remember thinking “Wait…hold on. We can teach this kind of stuff in WMA? There’s no law against it?!! Wow!” It got me back digging up everything I’d learned about body mechanics over the decades and teaching them in class, and eventually running our own Body Mechanics workshops.

When I left AD to work on my own martial arts development, I made mechanics the focus of my training. Working with dance and gymnastics led to learning about Idiokinesis, which informs a lot of the work I do now, and will probably suck up any training money I’m able to free up in the future. It’s the missing thing in western martial arts, the key that lets us stand as equals with every other martial art…when you also toss the stoicism in to cover the philosophy. That’s my modern hybrid art in a nutshell. Ancient manuals, lots of sparring, heavy training in body mechanics and performance, and sound philosophic principles. It’s what I wanted when I was younger, and never found it. I guess it was always up to me to just make it happen.

Now I just have to find a place to teach it, out of the rain…

One Comment

  1. Nice to know I’m not the only body mechanics obsessive out there. And I’m delighted that my class all those years ago was so useful to you. I do think that in-depth study of mechanics is the one most commonly missing ingredient in our community’s efforts to bring these arts back to life. As any one of my senior students would say: “it’s ALL grounding”.

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