People who have never been attacked seriously tend to play as if marking strikes joint torque or the pressure of a dummy knife is not really there in practice and worse they tense up and resist tension causing themselves to be controlled and causing injury.
Take on long nail and introduce it to the group. Have everyone press the tip to their soft flesh and consider if they want to resist the movement or not. (Have the group close their eyes and give one of them the nail with announcing that it will be a part of the drill) Have them work of taking each other down with just their fists placed on the body and limbs and allow them to feel under control and slow movement how it feels to be surprised by this tiny piece of reality. Repeat the drill until humility is in their bodies and there is less danger for them to harm themselves.
Simple, Effective, swift in effect
In the west it is considered heroic in many cases to loose your temper and go berserk. You hear about acts negating reason and consideration that succeed once in a while and those who perform them and live are considered heroes. An experienced soldier would care little to a heroic person in his fox hole as those tend to get themselves and others killed.
Most babies are born with the same attributes including mental and bodily feelings of fear and pain. In society we are pressed to suppress and ignore those feelings and when they come out as violence or the breaking of social rules we are judges and punished for them.This outlook is supported by the governing religion which also judges us for the negative thoughts and actions in the balance and considered those negative acts as influence of some evil being or some evil that is borne within us.
When you juxtapose this treatment of our nature to conflict we view the blade coming toward us with fear and prediction of pain and try to avoid it. Since the fear and pain reside in the back of our heads and constricted in our social body movements (sit straight, don’t make faces, suffer in silence, be a man) they affect us without our awareness to it and cause to anything within the range of freezing out of terror to acting out of control as a berzerker.
As teachers, friends and family we all have this inside us and being honest about our fear and pain in speaking of ourselves and others and in our movements.
Examples of putting things to practice:
Have a partner place his fist on your face or other sensitive spots and apply twisting pressure inward. Keep breathing and place your fists or hands and your lower limbs on his body to see and feel all the open spaces left beside the path of the fist. Repeat the drill with your partner moving toward you with the fist raised already and you using tension in the body, breath holding and eye closing to make all the emotions and feeling come alive and manifest and as the contact is made release the holds and start moving freely. Have a partner hold you tight with his limbs and body and resist with your muscles opposing the feeling of constriction until you tire and then allow yourself to move where you are free. Have a few partners each hold to a limb and raise you in the air. Have them move you and turn you with you tensing against them and once you had enough follow the initial movement of breathing and move using small and then larger movements out of them to find the already existing opening.
In your home close your eyes and perform by touch and sound daily tasks such as cleaning and cooking. Close your eyes and hold your breath and travel without making a sound from one end to another of your house or your place of work if this is possible. Remove your shoes and walk barefoot over natural ground while looking forward and up and paying attention to the signal your feet are giving you before placing any of your mass on your foothold and pay attention your expression when under pressure. Avoid putting on a mask of calmness as it just forces the fear beneath the surface and accept yourself as human. There lies the true wholeness of acceptance and from that you will be free instead of bottling things inside you until they either explode or harm you in other forms.
In one sentence: Smile at your follies as they happen and they will be your tools. Scowl and hide them and you will be a tool to them.
This post is inspired by man who is a student and teacher of Japanese and Okinawan martial arts and puts them into practice. Not too many years ago most martial arts differed in little and had much in common. The why to that is simple. They had to work.
A man raises his forearm and brings it down.
This is the simple mechanic description of a movement but it is who you are and not what you are that determine the effect of the movement. You choose in each breath what to do and you have thoughts coming and going but it is who you are that determines what your actions affect.
A man who thinks himself brave might try to grab the arm with the knife and be cut before he is stabbed. A man who thinks himself afraid will try to block the knife from reaching him with the same affect. The reason is due to the shallow perception of such words. Brave as well as coward is a mask we wear and not who we are. We act in different ways and pretend to be this or that but we avoid delving into who we are due to the emotional and perception shift it will bring.
This is also why in training we achieve so little when we are working mask against mask instead of working on removing our masks and this gaining our true sight and freedom.
How to solve this?
Work on your breathing. hold your breath and work and soon your true self will surface. Stay in a static push up on your fists for ten minutes and listen to your thoughts without letting them affect you and your true self will surface. Work slowly but moving with true intention with honest partners and your true self will rise. Do this with diligence every day of your life with yourself and with others and you will be free.
One raises his arm to block in reaction. Another raises his arm in a strike to injure or direct another. The man moves himself and not others and he the one who is free.
A note: being free guarantees nothing. It is it’s own reward. Pay attention and it pays for itself.
A very simple drill which cleans tension from the spine and hips after a long walk or run with gear on:
Stand a step away from the wall/tree/partner and place both hands or fists on it/him overhead. Collapse with an exhale so your head and then the rest of the spine is leaning and reversing the direction on the inhale move away from the support all the while keeping both soles on the ground flat and spreading the movement over all your joints. Go down a few cm and repeat until you cannot and then move up again.
Variations can include working with one limb off at a time or from the knees and sometimes even using springing motion with detaching from the support. Always refer to the basics when in doubt but keep moving.