Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Agility in Martial Arts

Over at The Martial Body, there is a good article on agility in martial arts. Below is an excerpt. The full post may be read here.

The power of a technique, a method or a strategy is only apparent if it is brought to bear as planned. When we think about defending ourselves in a martial exchange the consideration of power and how we can minimize its effect is one of the first problems to solve. There are many ways we can avoid, re-distribute, transform or neutralise forces affecting us in the martial context. But one of the most useful, if often shunned, is the use of agility.

Agility is the ability to move or think quickly, appropriately and efferently. It is a characteristic that we see in some of the top-flight boxers or MMA athletes, who seem to have an uncanny ability to avoid being hit. But as a general point it is the rapid utilisation of the mind and body in a completely unencumbered way.

Often, we see that martial artists will promote the ‘immovable’ method of development. They will get partners or lines of people to push against them and not budge from the spot. This approach has its uses and at a high level represents very refined mechanics, but it can also become a trap. People chase this immovable skill and can end up rooted to the spot while an agile opponent picks them apart one Jab at a time.  I have seen this directly many times. People from an immovable background simply unprepared for what true agility can bring to the table.

Ideally, we want to develop a body that can be both immovable and highly mobile, it may seem a contradiction but a consolidated body moving quickly through space is quite a problem for an opponent! A difficult balance and an inevitable trade off will result of course you may not be as immovable as the specialist in that skill, or as agile as the acrobat, but you will have some of both.
A good analogy for the agile body is to think of a boat on a stormy sea. It rides the immense powers of the ocean and can weather the storm. Contrast that to the solid coastlines that crumble under the constant pounding of the waves forces.
The agile fighter can be the boat. They can move in ways that can completely negate even the largest volumes of force.

Agility is born out of developing both our bodies and our minds. To be agile a fighter will need both the mind and the bodies ‘quickness’ to be developed through targeted training. Much of the methods for agile work can be found in the ‘ElasticBody’ section of the MartialBody system. Elastic in that context refers to both the quality of the tissues in the body and also the ability of the mind to stretch and spring into action.
Even complex forces can be avoided with the right level of physical and mental agility. It is very easy to not be affected by a force if you are not interacting with it and this is the most common way in which we see Agility utilised. The high level martial artist will have the ability to read the method of the opponent, sometimes subconsciously, and simply not be there when their method arrives.  It is easy to understand how this looks in the striking context, there are in numerous examples of agility in use in combat sports where one persons strikes hit nothing but air. If you have ever sparred with a high level boxer you will know immediately what I mean. You can hardly land a glove on them and almost never with any efficacy of delivery. This is a clear and very good example of agility.

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