I get these odd moments sometimes when talking to people. Moments when I realize I’ve made an assumption of not just knowledge, but of shared experience. I go ahead and talk about things while assuming everyone is coming from the same knowledge base as me. Hell, I assume everyone knows more than me, because my knowledge comes from curiosity not education. So when I go on and talk about new and interesting trends, and people just look at me…I have to remember that people may be as curious as me, and more educated, but not actually share my interests. Which does make me sometimes sound like a crazy person.
In class, I make a conscious effort to fill in background information to students when I’m asked, or when it seems necessary. Once, anyway. I do expect students to follow up on the things I talk about in class with their own research. No one ever asks for follow-up information, so I can just assume they’ve done their homework, right? If I teach a class on cane fighting, why wouldn’t you immediately go home and search for every single video and bit of written work available? I can’t be the only person who is filled with insatiable curiosity to learn more when I’m exposed to a new thing. I suppose I might just be the best teacher of all time. Entirely possible. Ahem.
One of my blogging assumptions has to do with movement. If I had to classify our fitness regime at Valkyrie into a category, I’d say we are Movers. I really hate to make this analogy, but what paleo is to nutrition, movers are to fitness. The best current examples of this are probably Movnat and Ido Portal, but it’s far from a new thing. Crossfit is similar, Parkour is in the direct lineage, I tend more towards the Ideokineses end of things. Sokol anybody?
Movers tend to eschew any kind of equipment. They value strength expressed through easy movement. The best workout is one done outdoors. They care less about appearance as a result of fitness, and more about health and longevity. What’s the point of having a six-pack if you can’t climb a tree to escape from a tiger? And your ultra-low body fat is just poor nutrition for the kitty anyway. I’m not a stickler for all-natural everything, but I believe the best workout can be found with just our body and our immediate environment.
Mastery of the body is a difficult thing. It’s hard enough that when we see people exhibit complete mastery, we tend to dismiss what they do as impossible for normal humans. The feats they do are belong only to the realm of their art. Dance, gymnastics, acrobatics, or whatever. It’s true…what the top people in those fields do is out of the range of anyone who doesn’t want to commit to eight hours a day of daily training over the course of a lifetime. But that’s no reason to ignore the entire field…
Movers tend to be heavy into display and exuberant fun, and they all make a token effort to include martial arts in their practice…mostly at a very primitive level, no pun intended. For me this is where the real joy can be found, though. Good movement is key to good martial arts, and the rigid training of most arts should make us good movers, but it doesn’t. Heavy practice of any art leads to specialization, and rigid patterns form that impede good flow when taken out of the training or competing environment.
Having a sound movement base, and a solid understanding of your personal body mechanics allows you to develop a more personal style of fighting. You don’t have to break out of the tenants of your style, but you do need to take ownership of what you are taught. The middle of the road fighters are the ones that just mimic what they are taught. The bad fighters are the ones who do what they want, and never learn to imitate. The really good fighters are the ones that mimic, internalize, and then use that kinetic recording as a new base to start learning from.
To really learn, you have to overcome fear. You have to be comfortable falling down, you have to be okay with stumbling in front of your peers. You have to be able to throw away your small victories in order to try for the bigger victories down the road. Movers spend time learning the things we all take for granted…walking, running, resting, getting from point A to point B without carrying a lifetime of kinetic baggage. It makes you strong, healthy…and teaches you to learn from yourself.