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Discover (or Re-discover) the Joy of Movement

Have you ever thrown a side kick into a kicking shield just for the sheer enjoyment of throwing it, of experiencing the energy of the movement itself? Or perhaps you hit a focus mitt with a lead straight punch or worked a particular escape from a grappling position for the same reason, because it just feels so damn good doing it. If, as you finished doing it, Bruce Lee suddenly appeared and asked you, “How did it feel to you?” your answer would not be, “Let me think…,” but instead something like, “It felt so freakin great!”

Martial art deals with movement. All types of movement; footwork and body movement, striking actions, grappling actions – offensive actions, counteroffensive actions, defensive actions, etc. In his martial art notes, Lee wrote, “The essence of fighting is the essence of moving.” Sometimes it can become very easy to get caught up in the mentality of maintaining a sense of over-seriousness when we train. We get out our stopwatch or put on the timer, determined to throw as many kicks or strikes as we can in a given time period. We record everything we have done in our training log, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, especially if you are a professional combative sport athlete training for an upcoming event. There is nothing wrong with recording your workouts and there is nothing wrong with pushing yourself to improve. And learning combative skills for self-defense purposes is serious business. My point is simply that sometimes, if we’re not careful, things can become overly mechanical, and we can lose sight of experiencing the enjoyment of what we are doing.

I went through such a phase myself (in fact I’ve gone through it numerous times in my years of training). Each time it occurs, I end up asking myself, “Why am I doing this?” And the answer I get is that I’m doing it because I enjoy doing it so much. And at that point I realize that I need to reinsert a state of enjoyment into what I’m doing.

When it comes to martial art training, we’re never too old or too experienced or too advanced to discover (or re-discover) the joy of movement, of our body in action. Bringing such a sense of enjoyment to your training can alter your mindset. It can bring back (or cultivate) your sense of body awareness. It can help you “ease the burden of your mind” by getting rid of excessive tension and self-consciousness. It can bring a sense of ‘emotional content’ to your movement. So strive to maintain a sense of enjoyment in your training.

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