We all practice the knowledge of space when walking, driving, dancing and fighting.
Getting to know your own space while in combat gives us the ability to welcome a contact, move away and time the alignment, tension and movement to maintain freedom in a fight or a contact.
From the first step each of us took, our eyes began to study space and timing. We continue the practice and learning with static work and then move to the dynamic.
- Stand up in front of a wall. Place a hand on a wall extended but not locked and repeat for the front, the sides and the back. Play with the starting distance so you start a foot away from the wall and move to place a hand or fist on the wall by knowing the distance. Move from different angles, heights and side. Move another foot away from the wall and again, play with movement to place your fists, hands, elbows, shoulders and more. Continue playing with starting location and use your breath to add speed without adding tension and let the breath lead each movement starting from the body.
- Once the eyes and body are aligned with static work, we continue to moving with a partner. Start with the partner walking around you in a circle. Breath continuously to remain relaxed and time placing hands, fist and feet on the partner as they walk without adding any pressure. Keep the contact light and move with the contact to avoid becoming fixed with your eyes.
- Have your partner walk toward you and move the least amount so they just miss you by a hair. Do this from different angles and add speed with breath awareness and also pay attention with your body angle. Play with the angles and keep your legs under your hips to avoid becoming a position while maneuvering.
- Add placing hands and feet on your partner or partners to the play as you go. Never sacrifice mobility for position.
- Close one eye at a time and repeat the play. Play with your head angle and position and continue to look as you move instead of tracking what is moving. Your eyes and mind are capable of encompassing much more than most allow. Let them see for you and take in the entire picture. This is one of the keys to remain free in a melee or with resistance.
- Sit down and repeat the play. Find freedom with your eyes and motion by focusing on different heights in the walking partners and alternating constantly. Move with your breath and as you are down, view the horizon but do not let it confine you. Let the head move with the movements of the body.
This is a first step. Once force is introduced to the work, be diligent to breath continuously and to be aware of the tension building in the body and pose. With each breath, rebuild yourself. Simple but not easy.
Are there secrets that hide behind our eyes ? Perhaps so.
We enjoy a waterfall of input from our eyes on a regular basis. This overabundance overrides other input streams causing us to devote less time to our hearing, smell, taste and body sensation. A monochrome painting gives less input but allows us to see other aspects that would be lost otherwise.
Closed eyes release a great deal of mental bandwidth to process other flavors as the next suggestions suggest:
- Start a constant sound (sometimes, owning a smart phone is good) place the sound in a static place and navigate the space according to the distance, angle and height of the sound.
- Start a constant sound and have it moving in a repetitive way. A friend or a toy truck can be or service here. Repeat the navigation drill and let your mind and senses feel the path of the sound in space.
- Find a quiet place. Not always an easy task and listen to your own breath and heart beat. Find your own sound reflected in the trees, walls or whatever is around you. Let your sound become a part of the surroundings and with breath, let it dissipate and grow more efficient.
- Lie on the ground and crawl around a safe location. Find your way with your body and limbs and feel the different textures of the ground and what is around you. Let the temperature of the different materials tell you where you are and where the sun warms the surface and how. Let the smell and residue on the ground tell you again where you are. The same will work with your eyes open as the capability spans and grows with deep practice.
Breathe, move, communicate with yourself and others.
Simplicity is in the depth of what we do.
This is a very simple thing to do but it has within it the bearing if you excuse the pun, of our own mechanism.
Place yourself in the static push up position and go half way down. Start a timer and close your eyes and aim to keep inner time going so you know how long you are holding the position.
Once you open your eyes and sync with your timer. You know how in tune you are with the world.
There is no understanding without understanding of self.
Movies paint a picture of virtue and might. Of good and evil and of discernible visuals.
Life is about energy preservation and the attacker being smarter than most movie villains seeks the most vulnerable position for the pray before attacking.
After all, statistics are here for a reason and adding percentages to not getting caught or killed seems to make sense.
Do the work to awaken the awareness in every move you make and every breath you take
- Talk with a friend as you walk down the street and jab each other as you speak with paper clips or thin branches of wood and try to break them on the other persons body. A successful broken or bend paper clip or branch is a marker for a stab or slash and being able to engage both hemispheres and different regions of the brain will aid in making you more able to handle what is coming any which way.
- Take a few coins or small notes of money and go outside. Take care in your movement and find people in need to slip them the money without them noticing. Take greater care not to be seen by others as you do this as they may think of you as a thief of worse. This is a great drill in learning stealth in two ways. The one is not showing your intent on the approach and the second is in not changing your rhythm as you hide your act of kindness. Be safe as you do this as being in need does not assure us the receiver will not take offense of be a bad person.
- Circle your partner as you keep a practice knife hidden on your person. Have them escape the location if they sense the draw of the knife and do fifty pushups if they mistake the movement for a draw (it is a win win situation in the long run) switch places every three attempts or guesses.
- Close your eyes and have a friend place one hand on you. Let them move you around gently and to move their hands on you freely. Note your breathing and equilibrium and they in turn will stab you or slash at you with a training knife when they feel you are turning rigid or dogmatic in motion. This will teach you to move within the lead of a contact or a crowd and save you from trying to have words with Ms Destiny. Go with it but do it your way.
Games and stories are the best way to teach the young and non walking dead.
Here are a few ways to bring your child more into the moment and show that paying attention pays.
- One more cat – Choose an animal like a cat or an object and see who calls it out faster and in greater amounts. You can have a cat counting contest or a broken pavement contest it matters only that we pay attention. Change what the object is from time to time as the seasons change (red leaf for example) and enjoy the extra awareness.
- What is missing – Take a scene that is well known to everyone and remove one part. See who finds out what it is first and how. For example – take away the favorite picture off the wall and see if it is noticed.
- Color blind – Things change color by season or man action. Note the changes the locals make in their yards and clothes, mark the changes in the leaves and trunk and mark the change in the skies and in the horizons.
- Insects birds cats and dogs – Where you have insects making noises, you will not find birds, where you hear birds, you will not find cats and so on. Listen and predict what animals or people you will find about and learn a mighty lesson on rings of association.
- Echo lines – There is a distance beneath which no echo is heard by us. Guess and match who finds the line of the echo in different places and ranges. There is a lot to learn about the three dimensional nature of waves thus.
- The closing tap – A tune is made out of sound and silence. check who notices when the washing machine has ended its cycle, when do the birds finish their evening calls and gain the full range of the tune.
- The lost ant – Hide a small paper clip inside clothes and see when it is detected, Place a plastic bottle cap under the sheets and see who is the true princess or just place an acorn on the ground and see who chooses to step lightly 🙂 The appreciation to touch goes beyond the fingertips.
- The right key – Take objects that seem similar and close your eyes to pick the right one. It can be keys, clothes and anything that matches, your fingers and mind will connect past the oversight of the eyes and awaken even more.
- The tower – Take very light objects like disposable plastic cups or clean ear cleaning sticks and build towers with them. aim to make them as gentle as possible to better understand the lightest touch.
I like power. We all do, but power is not the answer against a blade or a verbal attack. One must work consistently on control and thus create a measure of awareness which guides the power and creates the final outcome. Power in impact can reach a point of diminishing return, Grace does not.
Here is a challenge (people like challenges)
Do this straight for 30 days
- Hold a cup of water in your hand with water filling it and almost overflowing. Sit down on your behind and get up 10 times with no contact of arms to the ground and with no spilling of water.
- find a stout round roll like a metal bottle or an actual wood log and stand on it. Teach yourself to walk on the log and take 10 steps forward and 1o back. Make sure you have a way to dis-log safely before you start walking. Falling hard is hard.
- Reach a handstand with your legs resting lightly on a wall. Breathe and move to free stand and note how your body balances and overbalances itself. Focus on your breathing and maintain the hold for 120 breaths. (If this is hard physically, divide it to smaller parts)
The simple stuff is key to reaching grace.
Do this and reap the benefits or better yet, enjoy the work.
Being attune and in the moment is simple but not easy. Here are three games to play to increase your natural tuning to what others and you are doing.
- Close your eyes and touch your partner in the chest. Count their breaths to ten and push on the ten. Verify that you counted well and move to a more obscure location for this count such as the back and then the limbs and head. This will extend your awareness to breath contact affect we have on each other and the partner being counted can work and move to obscure their breath by tension, movement and changing pace. Lo tech work but highly beneficial for any encounter later on as you are in tune with the breath tempo, depth and alignment of the contact.
- Open your eyes and view your partner from the front. Repeat the breath count work from a step away and as you make your way, one step at a time away from your partner, become more and more in tune with the slight movement and tempo of their life. Again, this will serve you well in the times ahead. Repeat the game from the side of the partner and then from the back. Wear different clothes and use whatever is there for your enjoyment and progress into yourself.
- Walk in nature ( a garden will do if you are in a city) and count your breaths per steps. Start with one breath phase (inhale, exhale, rest) for each step and go up in your count the moment you feel comfortable in the current count. Go as high as you can and climb down in the same manner. Join a partner in doing this and feel each change in breath phase as they make it without verbal or visible cues to mirror their breath so you can be in tune by choice. Make sure you also work to keep your tempo and depth free from auto mirroring as it produces a temptation all by itself. Be a social creature but be free first.
Breath work is a primal key. Use it to increase whatever else you do.
Here are ways to increase your awareness without increasing the energy we put into it. It is easy to be super vigilant for a few seconds and then go back to sleep. Choose instead to grind the wheel a little bit each day. Keep your sword sharp or grow rust.
These are tweaks and small changes to everyday civil life. Take what suits you and make it your own. Do not let the darkness come. Take it in yourself.
- Use less artificial light. Go to the washroom at night without turning on the light. Take the trash out without using the staircase light. Learn to see and feel with the light you have.
- Listen with your feet. Object moving on the ground make vibrational footprints. Pay attention even when you have your boots or shoes on and you will gain sight beyond sight.
- Smell your food but not just. Smelling your food give a head start to your stomach to produce what is needed to digest the incoming. Pay attention to cigarette smoke, to car smells within the car, Pay attention to flowers opening in the morning and shifts in people smells in seasons and in health and sickness.
- Feel the air on your skin. Moving doors, birds and vehicles create streams of moving air. You can sit with your back to the door and still sense it open in the dark.
- Attune before you open the door. People open doors with but a glance or look or even on automatic. Let yourself gather and listen to your senses and intuition each time you open a door. It will pay forward in some way.
- Listen to the small voices. Everyone has intuition but not everyone listens to it. Hear the small hunches and voices among the larger voices of hunger and pain. The more you pay attention to, the less one voice controls you.
- Look at the long run. We eat and forget, we try to catch the falling glass of the table and forget the firing of the less used nerves. Listen to the long run and pay attention to the reward and price of doing what you choose to do. Many times there will be no connection but sometimes will make this worth the weave of past, present and future together. Eventually it will be just a part of you as it was in youth.
- See with your hands. The weight and texture of objects matter. Pressing a button that has warmed up due to electric resistance, feeling sweat on a door handle or the changed weight of a picked pocket. All these things are at your fingertips.
There is a saying “It is easy to be a monk at the top of the mountain“. It is indeed much easier to be excess free if the environment is calm and smooth but the universe is a better teacher than that 🙂
As it is easier to be smart when you watch mayhem from the sidelines (There were aristocrats in carriages at the Waterloo battle who came to view the spectacle) so we cannot overload our awareness and expect logically to deal with it as a spectator. Instead, we will go from parameter to parameter and build a greater web to catch the moment. Calmness is a large net.
- Stand next to the wall and have one person push and twist your body toward it. Work with your eyes closed on keeping your breath continuous and avoid letting expectation control your breathing tempo.
- Repeat with eyes open.
- Lie on the ground and breathe continuously. have one or more people pull and push on you in different directions as you maintain your comfort by moving the least you can and breathing.
- Repeat as you actively tense your body on every other inhale. This teaches to let go of accumulated tension and surprise postural (think loud noise reactions 🙂 ) tension on the go.
- Stand and let a trusted partner grab your neck or head with a pressure hold and turn and twist you by that contact. Work to breathe and to let your eyes see what is in front of them instead of trying to fixate to a horizon or any exiting location like the door to the room. Move your entire body and remain as comfortable as you can be.
- Repeat as your partner also uses their legs to give you further contact 🙂
- Start a delicate task (arranging a balance structure using small rocks, typing a poem and so on) and have one or more people lean on you with slowly increasing speed. Breathe and work to allow your spine muscles and body and eyes to move with the contact the moment you pay attention to them or simply move the entire time with your breath to lead.
- Tense your upper body and start walking. Move from standing to siting and laying down and back up while keeping the tension in the upper body. Work to keep the tension from bleeding to the lower body while in movement.
- Tense your lower body and move on the ground continuously. Have a partner create obstacles for your to navigate and work to keep the tension from bleeding to the upper body and your eyes from fixating on your heading.
- Stand and tense just your arm on the inhale. Exhale and “move” the tension to the other arm and repeat faster and faster until you reach a current end. remember this changes from day to day and with practice.
- Repeat as you move to avoid getting caught by a partner or more. Creating and letting go of tension while engaging with a partner is key to learning to manifest tension as a tool instead of working with the default of someone else.
- Start walking and have one or more partners grab you with force and torque. Work in turn on keeping your breath continuous, keeping your movement in the direction you want or angling toward it (getting to somewhere can happen in an arch, it helps in letting go of tension), letting your eyes move without fixating on the horizon or your heading.
- Engage your partners in pushing and pulling and grabbing. Talk about a non connected subject as you continue to move together and against each other. Being a human is not a one way road. Embody this in your lessons.
Work on the basics in simple combinations. Work on one thing at a time and progress will come before you know it.
Enjoy the road. Tension is your friend when applied correctly.
Here are ten suggestion to increase the pressure we place on ourselves while working on our health and ability.
Principle – example:
- Height – raise your legs to differnet heights as you do push ups.
- Stability – Do push ups on two hanging ropes.
- Surface – Walk on your fists and feet outside and choose your placing wisely.
- Speed– Slow down or speed up your sit ups and leg raises to spend more time on the movement and give your mind more time to understand how you move.
- Breath – Dictate how many breaths you have per movement or give yourself no breath at all to perform a task.
- Sight – Close your eyes and do one legged squats.
- Position – Place your fists/hands in different angles as you do push ups.
- Tension – Keep your arms tense as you climb a rope.
- Tempo – Set a time and perform differnet counts of a movement during it.
- Movement – Change the movement itself. Do a turkish get up without placing a hand on the ground, do a snatch with the KB on the side of the hip.
There is endless variation. Be free in your mind first and enjoy each day of movement.
Do not take things for granted. Learn something by making small changes every time.