Cultivate Your Body Awareness
Look at Bruce Lee in action, be it in one of his films, television appearances, or during a martial art demonstration. Look at him prowl like a leopard stalking his prey. Look at him strike with the speed of a cobra whose bite is felt before it is seen. Look at him leaping eight feet in the air to kick out a light bulb. Look at the balance and body alignment, his movements full of grace and purpose. Look at his physical dexterity and technical mastery.
There is something about the speed and power of course, but also the fluidity, ease, and quality of his combative movements. Adjectives and descriptions such as lightning fast, poetry on motion, deadly, balletic, catlike, and others have been used to describe his body in movement. Even today his physical skills are viewed as a gold standard and considered a benchmark that many martial art practitioners strive to achieve. So totally cool, dope, phat, or whatever the latest hip word du jour is.
How did he learn to move like that? Was he a genetically superior human being? No. Was he was born with a high degree of movement skill abilities already hardwired into his body? Perhaps so, however we will never know for sure. But what we can say for certain is that Bruce Lee had incredible body awareness and movement awareness.
Next time you watch him notice how effortlessly he moves, be it walking, dancing, or fighting. This is no coincidence: it comes from how well his central nervous system is connected to his muscles. Other elite level athletes and performers also possess the same high degree of body awareness. World champion surfers, professional ballet dancers, Olympic gymnasts, you can find them in every sport and activity. They, like Lee, move with economy of motion, balance and effortless grace.
Good body awareness is visible in all of a person’s movements and physical actions, not just in martial arts or whatever activity they are engaged in. The way they stand, the way they walk, their body alignment, etc. They’re in control and aware of everything going on with their body, both outside and inside. Contrast this with the way a person with poor body awareness carries themselves and moves, and it is easy to see the difference. Their body is often out of correct alignment, the quality of their movements is poor and often looks awkward or forced, and there seems to be a disconnect between their mind and body.
A martial artist with poor body awareness will have great difficulty actualizing their full performance potential. In addition, they are likely to be more prone to sustaining injuries during their training. Don’t trudge through your martial art journey corporeally unaware. Instead, develop your body awareness to its highest level in order to help you actualize your full potential and reach your highest levels of performance.
Here are a few principles you can use to cultivate and improve your body awareness:
Develop your understanding of movements and the muscle groups that drive those movements.
Cultivate your ability to perceive movement through both seeing and feeling (kinesthetic perception).
Develop your neuromuscular efficiency through proper practice and rehearsal of particular movements.
Keep cultivating your body awareness and movement awareness on a daily basis and who knows, perhaps one day in the not too distant future someone will say, “Wow, look at the way (put your name here) moves!”