Pressing tension

We are so used to pain and tension that we do not even know how it is possible to live without it. One example is the high level of tension in the legs and how it affects the hips turnout and our mobility and general health. The way to press this excess out of the body is not pleasant to say the least 🙂 Yet the outcome is worth it.

Do as few movement drills `before and then after this set of drills and note how the shift in tension affects your movement, awareness and impact acceptance.

We begin with static holds, we progress to gentle rocking in place and then further and deeper with narrower placed pressure (less contact and same mass or for example side of foot instead of sole of foot) and later on we move intuitively as we feel the tendrils and arches of pressure and how one interacts with the other.

Static holds:

  • Apply pressure to the center of the muscle belly and slowly edge toward a third up and down. Start with flat pressure by a fist, sole of foot and so on and then proceed to edgier pressure and always avoid going too fast. Slow becomes fast with good breath and attention.
  1. Sit with both legs straight and together and with toes pointing up. Have a partner apply pressure on the middle of the rectus femoris. Focus on breathing and communicating with your partner. Some will feel nothing but the pressures while others may scream in pain. Enjoy both ends of the spectrum and move slowly on the arch of the muscle while avoiding any pressure on the knee joint from above.
  2. Sit with both legs bent so the sides of the legs is on the ground and one knee is in contact with the sole of the other. Have a partner stand or apply pressure on the Iliotibial tract and again focus on breathing and on paying attention.
  3. Squat with your feet flat on the ground and your spine upright. Have a partner stand on the upper third of your rectus femoris ( have him or her balance using your head or anything else in the area. Breathe, note the shift in the hips and enjoy the process as well. After 30-60 breaths, descend and watch as the body naturally adjusts.
  4. Lie on your front and bend the knees so the toes point to the heavens. Have a partner apply pressure downward as you breathe and press from the hips upwards.

For more, come to class or be in touch 🙂

Meditation with a meat hook

There are lessons that can be taught by words and others that require experience to blend together, thought, feeling and sensation.

One such lesson is that of the meat hook or any hook once it sinks in our flesh or makes that needle like entrance in our skin.

I recall no fondly moving through the brush during my time in the army. The thorns and stones and mud and occasional hole made moving with our gear unpleasant at best. Having to hold my rifle in one hand, the radio antenna in the other and needing three more hands to climb, descend, push and pull was a very surprisingly consistent type of torture until a very clear moment when I stopped fighting the brush and started to blend in.

Nothing changed in the brush, it still stung, rip and tear at me. I let go of the part of myself trying to force my way to it and the dance began. I bled a bit less, move a lot more silently and a type of respect started to build.

Starting the journey with an actual meat hook is somewhat unsafe. Take a clothes hanger, an S shaped piece of metal without tips and start pulling and pushing on a partner while avoiding the eye holes and behind for a while. Start so slowly as you can talk while doing so and have a physical and verbal conversation as you go about it.

Let the hook guide the partner to the ground, let it turn them around, let it shift and control what the eyes present to the partner and also have as much fun with it as you can.

Let the hook come in contact with you and move another part of the body than the one in touch with the hook first. Keep breathing when the feeling of being dug into makes an appearance. Start working from the ground, move with the wall, do it inside a car you are responsible for and move with care for all parties involved.

Let the hook come at you and guide it back to the partner. Let the hook come at you and attach it to something in your surroundings. Let it come and draw your own tool from hammer to rope.

Nothing goes beyond the basics done well.

Keep safe,

Keep breathing

Stay in touch

Sharon

The magic of wrestling with a sword

Many times, we attempt to recreate something that already exists. Many martial arts today have gun disarm drills they invented, knife defense and attack they invented and much more that was already in existence the first time a man took a rock in his hand and threw it at his brother.

Studying what worked for people who fought for their lives for millennia helps us deepen and further our own knowledge and temper our own experiences with that of our forefathers.

I suggest to you ten drills to rediscover ancient knowledge. Mo magic exceeds honest work.

Lie on the ground with your sword. Have your partner or partners come at you with their tools. Get moving with your breath, body and sword to avoid being cut down and cut them down as you go. Smile, it relaxes the face and frees the mind from worry of things that have yet to happen.

Close your eyes and stand on one leg. Hold your sword in your hand and with each breath, feel your balance shift and adjust. Have a partner push and pull on you with a stick or a rope loop. Breathe and move as one with the sword and maintain your balance through conscious movement. Let your footing start at your hips instead of at your legs.

Stand a sword stroke away from your partner and cross swords. Breathe and relax your hand, arm and shoulder tension so as to move the blade from the movement of the body. Let your partner move as they care to and sink inwards to cut or thrust with your blade. Here focus on moving from your own volition instead of being a drum making sound only when hit.

Hold your sword in your hands and have your partner grab the tip of your sword. Aim to stab and cut them as they move and work the contact to avoid being cut and thrusted upon. Focus on being the entire blade instead of having the point of contact pressed to your consciousness.

Hold your sword in your hands and have the blade of your partner placed on your body. Move from your breath to first avoid placing resistance on the blade and from there let the body movement decide the next step. Practice so you can answer several questions at the same time. Do not limit yourself to defense or offense.

Take a sword and have both you and your partner place hands on it as you both kneel on your knees. Breathe and both work to either be the only one with blade at hand or on drawing a dagger from your belt if you choose to. Never let the blade consume more of you than required.

Stand with your feet under you and start moving your blade. Have your partner aim to strike you and you in turn aim to avoid his blade, not only with your body but with your blade as well. Free your mind from conversation and exist without leaning on outside circumstance.

Place your blade on your partners blade. Keep them touching as your partner aims to break contact and slide and move on their blade as they make their intent known. Why do this ? To understand the mentality behind contact and no contact so when the desire to regroup hits you under pressure, you will not suffer a dissonance between your survival and your instinct.

Tense your body, from your skull muscles to the muscles gripping the ground at your feet. Let go and breathe continuously. Have your partner dart their blade at you using both thrusts and cuts as you avoid focusing on them or their tools with your eyes and movement. See the gaps in space and movement and find their timing without molding a response. Be active in touching with your blade or body while not letting their actions lead you. Freedom is always won, never without intent.

Be either in a blade on blade or with both sides touching the blade and practice the art of invisibility. Breathe as you would and let go of all intent and tension to free yourself from the current motion to become something new. An example for this can be to let go of struggling over the control of a firearm to grab a boiling kettle and emptying it on the front of your attacker or letting go of a knife to push an assailant into a moving truck. disappearing is choosing when and where to be and when and where not to be.

Staying Hip

The hips are the center of the body.

Moving them well contributes to all other movements and connects them in an enhancing chain of small and greater movements.

Begin:

  1. Place yourself in the pushup position and rotate your hips while in this in one side and then the next. Note your preference and always start the movement with the breath.
  2. Place yourself on one fist/hand and turn your body sideways to the ground. Repeat the hip rotation and release your eyes as well as you breathe and move. Do this for both sides.
  3. Place yourself on both fists/hands with your chest to the stars and repeat the rotation both ways. Consider how movement under slight pressure helps us learn to move all things as one.

Continue:

  1. Place yourself on one fist/hand and opposing side foot – repeat the hip rotation and work to let the movement balance you, rather than tension and bracing the movement chain. Water does not break, ice does.
  2. Place yourself on fist/hand and the same side side foot – repeat the hip rotation and focus on breathing excess tension out.

Further on:

  1. Do a handstand with a partner or with your legs on a tree trunk and rotate your hips. Focus on the reversed blood flow and let the mass sync itself in balancing out movement and activation.
  2. Hold yourself on a tree branch or a pull up bar and rotate your hips. Let the body unwind and let it smile.

Enjoy.

Stiff Mobility

One of the best ways to find your way around the mountain is to walk around it. This time, we will use the stick to release stiffness in the body and in the mind.

For these ten movements you will need a sturdy shaft that reaches from the ground to your chest at least. I have used a hoe shaft for years and it serves me and my students well.

video and further instruction is at my online classes and online free videos.

  1. Hold the stick in both ends in front of you. Sit down and pass both feet past the stick and roll over the shoulder to lie on your stomach and back to a standing position.
  2. Sit on your knees with the stick held in both ends. Roll forward while keeping the stick to your side.
  3. Sit on your knees with the stick held in both ends. Roll forward while keeping the stick ahead of you at the front.
  4. Sit on your knees and roll to each side at a time with the stick held in both ends and keep the stick from touching the ground.
  5. Hold the stick in one hand aimed at the skies. Transition from standing to laying down and switch hands during the transition as you switch from inhale to exhale.
  6. Hold the stick in the crooks of your bent elbows. Roll forward and backwards. Breathe and use the shoulders and hips alignment to move freely.
  7. Hold the stick in the crooks of your bend elbows. Lie on your back and transition from laying face up to face down, without letting the stick touch the ground.
  8. Hold the stick in the bend of your neck and chest. Transition between laying on your back and standing up and aim to keep the shoulder blades and shoulders as relaxed as possible.
  9. Hold the stick in the bend of your bent knees. Transition between laying face up and face down without lifting the torso off the ground. Find which angles work for you between the hips and spine.
  10. Hold the stick in one hand and against the top of the opposite foot. Transition between Standing and sitting down. without lifting both legs off the ground.

Smile and enjoy the work.

ransuru@yahoo.com

The invisible sword

It is up to us to be logical but it is equally paramount to be illogical in our pursuit of truth and affect.

Here is an illogical lesson plan for the sword. It mirrors a simple truth of resistance vs control but from the other side of the mirror.

Begin:

  1. Hold your sword in your hand but allow the mass of it to point downward. Imagine it resting quietly in calm water.
  2. Shift your hips in a way when the middle stays in place and the hips move, one forward and one back and in reverse. Transfer that movement to the sword by letting go of excess tension in the spine and shoulder and let your breath be the rhythm.
  3. Keep the image of the sword in calm water in your head and add to hip movement to draw the sword out without splashing any water or creating any excess tension or movement. Keep your hand closed around the hilt so any adjustment in angle is made by the body, shoulder, arm and wrist.
  4. Keep the edge of the sword in your head and draw the sword from the down position to pointing up but so it maintains its up position out of balance and not out of tension. You can also balance a wooden stick on a finger for practice but keeping the sword upright in your grasp is more beneficial for the dialog between resistance and control.
  5. Start drawing a Mollinet by drawing a circle to your right and one to your left in one continuous motion coming from your hips and guiding the movement by spreading the movement between your shoulder, elbow and wrist. Always be aware of the edge and lead with it when appropriate.
  6. Have a partner place a staff or a sword parallel to the ground. Strike it with force and feel the resistance passing back to your sword arm and how your vision is affected.
  7. Breathe and release the wrist to let the sword strike the other sword and continue the movement with moving the elbow but with a relaxed wrist. Mind if the movement continues smoothly and if your vision maintains its focus more clearly.
  8. Breathe and Release both shoulder and wrist so the release meets at the elbow and strike the other sword in a continuous manner with each breath.
  9. Stand an arm and a sword away from your partner. Hold your sword in balance and watch both your and their swords. Find the wave of the pulse in yourself and in your partner and strike as theirs pulse. Release the motion continuously to keep the opponent from touching your tension or yourself and within that mold, you will find freedom and opportunity.

The straight road is not always the shortest. There are times where there are many valid ways and it is the choice which makes the way.

FIGHT TALK

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Getting real

Getting real

  1. What makes a drill a reality drill and how we can improve on what we get from our training.
  2. How to breath in daily life to become better aware and conscious of our direction and freedom.
  3. Perspective – a comparison of what really matters in life with a lesson from Kibera Kenya.

Be safe but not too safe.

Sharon Friedman

Running as breath work

Cardiovascular ability is quite the dirty word in many martial art schools whose worth is mostly in performance in the dojo.

I agree to some extent as investing in the parts of the whole without context gives very little to advance the abilities of the practitioner.

It is putting things together which brings us to a higher level of freedom and ability under PRESSURE.

Runners do not make better fighters necessarily. Doing hard things where your mind and emotions connect with the struggle is what elevates us into calm under pressure.

Breath during running:

Begin running and match your breath rhythm with your steps. Inhale for one step and exhale for one. Increase the count first on the inhale and later on, on the exhale until you reach the apex of the pyramid. Place your awareness in your face, your neck and torso to find out where the tension crawls and shake or release it by shifting your alignment and continuing to breathe.

Begin running and match your breath rhythm with your steps. Increase only the exhale stage of the breath and let it stretch to the max and again find where the tension goes and add listening to your thoughts telling you to inhale more and maintain a steady rhythm for a while until the body and mind find out they can release excess and exist beyond what we believe is our limits.

Begin running and breathe solely through your nose. Inhale and exhale through the nose and focus on maintaining a relaxed face, neck and torso as you nose breathe. Increase the pace of the run as possible (while avoiding moving cars and stray leopards) until you find a new place of silence within.

ADVANCEMENT MUST OCCUR IN ALL OUR LAYERS OR ELSE IT REVEALS THE HUBRIS OF MAN