How do we move/act without stress?
At the core of stress free living is the understanding that true relaxation or truly being stress free is not simply going limp, or giving up.
In Tai Chi we say "true relaxation" is balancing movement and stillness. Physically this correlates to relaxation not being limp, this principle is the first thing you learn in Tai Chi.
In short to truly relax and be without stress we must have principles in place to balance the situation. In other words these principles form a sort of "skeleton" to our life.
In martial, physical and psychological practices this framework is the cornerstone we use to accomplish skill. Regardless of the particular practice the ultimate goal is balanced action w/ relaxation. Structure is the foundation of this relaxation, a way to live alongside of stress while still accomplishing goals.
In this post we'll dive into some foundations we can all use to accomplish a more stress free and productive life!
What really is the correct spinal posture?
I've gotten this question many times from my students and massage clients alike.
In short the answer hinges on what you're going to use it for.
In day to day movements, martial art practice, and I would argue for the same in massage practice, correct spinal posture comes from lifting the crown point and pointing the sacrum, then tilting it depending on your use.
What this does is straighten out the spine and expands it in order to grant space in between the vertebrae and take pressure off of any one point on the spine, as illustrated in the picture on the left.
Why would we want to use this posture instead of the normal weight lifting posture?
Tai Chi is more than a slow moving dance, it's a categorizing of things...
Chi Kung is training the proper use of tension!
Tension usually has a negative connotation in Chi Kung and Tai Chi. It is said that we must flow like water and “relax” into movements for the most benefit. The big question that runs through many peoples’ mind is HOW?!?
To turn the traditional teaching around, the main question to ask is NOT how do we relax, but rather, How can I use my tension more efficiently?
To dive into the root of honorable masters we must first look to the context of Traditional Chinese Martial Art (TCMA) history. This is a topic that has always been very controversial! Chinese history, aside from TCMA, is so seamlessly knit together with legends and mystical stories alongside of historical events that it is extremely difficult to separate the two.
For example many Chinese scholars find it impossible to authenticate various authors of classical Chinese texts! Many historians debate the existence of Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu, and even the famous Yellow Emperor, Huang Di. As if this problem isn't daunting enough, in other parts of Chinese history it is further compounded by the Chinese' cultural bias to name an originator of a technique, writing, or w/e under a previous master or another person altogether. 'In Chinese culture it is more desirable to have antiquity instead of personal merit.'
To take a serious look at TCMA, and the various masters that make up its history without keeping all this in mind and applying critical thinking is to be terribly naive. In keeping this in mind let's dive into what makes the root of honorable masters by first exploring some major problems in TCMA...
A poem to inquire
After having seen a certain martial art demo have you heard someone say or have you said this before?
"That will never work... in the 'cage'/ on the 'street'/ in UFC/ against a boxer or mixed martial artist!"
If you have I'd say you're/they're probably right. The problem with that statement is the UFC or 'the cage' isn't the be all end all testing ground for martial art. When it comes to martial effectiveness I'd say 'the cage' or the UFC is one of, if not the best place, to pressure test your technique in a 1 on 1 all inclusive environment.
The more broad problem is that 'martial effectiveness' isn't the only goal in 'traditional' techniques, styles, exercises, or forms.
My purpose in writing this post is to help you refocus how you look at traditional martial arts, and martial art practice in general.
The focus when looking at martial arts, especially traditional ones, should be on asking "Does the art build a certain skill, attribute or does it have some other cultural or social relevance?" Various martial arts focus on different aspects of these. Boxing, JiuJitsu, and Mui Thai even fall into these categories. In particular we're looking at skills such as musculoskeletal development, cardiovascular and other forms of fitness, whole body coordination, efficient strength, posture, and rehabilitation of injuries and many more. After seeking the reasoning we then have to ask ourselves is this something we could find appealing?
It all boils down to critical thinking. In this post we'll offer some references and knowledge to find reasons behind traditional practices and my personal reasons for continued practice of traditional martial arts. After reading this I hope you can make a more well informed opinion of traditional and modern practices. =)
A match made centuries ago!
Massage has been very important in martial arts for a long time. Not just for injury recovery, but also for prevention, and even many times as a requirement for ranking as a "master" in w/e discipline or system.
Today we'll explore the main reasons I feel one is indispensable from another and how both complement each other almost seamlessly.
Warm up your hands and grab your lineaments today we're diving into how massage and martial arts make a devastating healing couple!
"The type or particular method of meditation isn't important, rather it's developing patience and persistence... The results will come, just keep practicing, and above all stay calm."
Daniel R. Hyde
Licensed Massage Therapist
OIF, OEF Veteran
U.S. Marine Corps
Kwan Ying Do Kung Fu
Tai Chi Chuan
Tui Na, Chinese Massage
Shiatsu, Japanese Massage