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Don't Just Think...Feel!

In the film, Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee’s character, a Shaolin priest, tells his young student, “Don’t think… feel.” In the Longstreet television show, Lee’s character, an antiques dealer and martial artist, asks Longstreet, who has just executed a side kick, “How did it feel to you?” Bruce Lee was very much a proponent of “body-feel.” Throughout his martial art notes he commented on the subject several different times, including --

“Study body-feel to get speed, fluidity and power.”

“Body-feel suggests a harmoniously interplay of body and spirit, both inseparable.”

“Investigate by “body-feel” to relay different parts of foot tools to target…”

What does “body-feel” mean? Body-feel is about “feeling” the movement as opposed to simply

“doing” it. Body-feel relates to “kinesthetic perception’ – the ability to feel and perceive the physical motions or movements your body is making. It’s about not only what a movement or action looks like but how it feels to you. When using body-feel you access the intelligence of the body (which also includes the mind). Your body is a sensing organism, and when you are moving it’s constantly feeding you information concerning such things as economical motions, effective leverage, good balance in motion, efficient use of energy, proper weight distribution, etc. The more we develop our capacities for receiving and responding to such sensory information the greater our sense of body feel will become. A well-developed kinesthetic sense allows us to trust our perceptions and evaluations when doing or learning movements. Kinesthetic perception includes:

a) awareness of sensation

b) listening to the body

c) tactile feedback

When we are training in a group class or even in a one-on-one lesson, we can receive feedback about our movements from our teacher, coach or even our training partner concerning our movements. This is “external” feedback. With body-feel the feedback we receive comes from ourselves – it is “internal” feedback.

An essential prerequisite for utilizing body feel is that you need to be fully present in your training. In a blog I wrote awhile back dealing with the “mind-body” connection in training I discussed the “disconnect” that some people allow to happen between their mind and their body. They might be hitting piece of equipment such as focus mitts, or working with a partner on a particular technique, yet while they are training they’re talking about something that’s completely unrelated to the work at hand. If you do something or learn something without inward awareness – without maintaining the mind-body connection and focusing on cultivating your sense of body-feel in what you are doing, you will end up cheating yourself.

Body feel is an important component in your JKD training. It will help you build your body awareness and deal effectively with issues which might be hindering your performance such as poor body alignment, improper movement initiation, lack of coordination, and others.

Approach all of your physical movement training and development with the principle of body feel firmly in your mind. When you are training, give it your full attention. Focus your energy on what you are doing as you are doing it. Refine your sense of body-feel by concentrating your awareness on how your body moves (the whole body and its separate parts). Listen inwardly and pay close attention to the need for subtle changes in the movement: smaller, bigger, looser, freer, more compact, etc.

Don’t just think… don’t just do… feel!