Student Questions Answered.
In this short article I will explain the rationale for the design of the MartialBody system and how each of the Bodies link to each other progressively producing the ‘Martial Body’.
The system is designed to resolve or address 3 key areas that martial artists will need to focus on to produce the body capable of expressing the 6 attributes. These are:
- Removing Errors
These 3 aspects of training represent the process that most of us must undertake when we begin training our bodies. If we start to build on top of Errors, for instance, we will end up with poor or incorrect movement. So it is important that the process is followed in the correct manner.
So, lets look at these three aspects and how they relate to the MartialBody Process.
The first step in most body training processes will be to remove or reduce pre-existing errors. Just as a good strength and conditioning coach will first assess the form of your squat or lunge, so we must assess the current ability of our body in a set of key areas.
For the MartialBody to be correct we cannot work with a habitually or unconsciously tight or tense body, instead we need to maintain a relaxed tone or tautness. For this to occur we have to begin our training by removing or reducing the unconscious or habitual tension in our bodies. This is the process found in the HeavyBody section. It is the release of tension from the tissues so that they naturally sink around the bones. This prepares the body for the application of stretching, pulls and tensions later in the training but also has the useful consequence of creating a powerful sinking force that we can utilize in our movement.
Secondly, we must make sure that this soft tissue is spanned over a well-constructed scaffold, our skeleton. If our structure is misaligned, when we come to build the tissues, we will be ‘uneven’. By this I mean that perhaps we will create greater strength in one area of the body and less strength to compliment it, causing postural skewing and aches or pains. This results in us being easily manipulated by those with the skill to perceive these deficiencies. The frame is the support for all of the work that is to come and we must ensure that it is up to the task, here is the domain of StableBody training.
So in the first section, the ‘removal’, we have the HeavyBody and the StableBody. The correction of alignment cannot occur without first removing the tensions that may be causing it, hence, heavy comes before stable. The marriage of these two ‘bodies’ can be represented as a yin/yang pair, the tissues sinking while the skeleton provides an upward opposition. Both deal with the removal of something, removing tension and removing misalignment.
The Building phase
So now that we have created a relaxed and aligned body we are able to begin to build it up, safe in the knowledge that we are able to do so without compounding existing issues. This is the building phase of MartialBody training and introduces the Connected and Elastic Attributes.
The first step in the process of building our body is to thread it together and create whole body connection. This involves physically associating and then developing the tissues of the body so that it is capable of moving with consolidation along the major planes of motion. This process will lay new tissue down, strengthen existing tissue and also neural pathways. This will make the web of tissue that spans the body is strong and capable of producing and receiving forces. The movements of the MartialBody can be sudden and explosive in nature and as such we need our body to be capable of handling them. The ConnectedBody will build the body such that is it strong and powerful, but protected from injury.
This newfound awareness of physical connection is then transformed and further enhanced by the methods of ElasticBody training. The ElasticBody follows the ConnectedBody because we must be able to feel the connections before we can transform them and increase their elasticity. In the ElasticBody we focus on adding a ‘springy’, Upwards quality to the lines of connection we found and developed in the ConnectedBody course.
So, in the Building phase we are actually changing the body and laying new material down to increase its capability. This phase is only achievable if we pass through the removal phase.
The body is now at a point where, even if we were not to explore the unique movement skills, we would already possess some amazing qualities. Many will end their training at this point as it will ‘plug’ into their own training well and already provide a good base, however, there is much to be gained for everyone with the exploration of the Movement Phase of MartialBody training.
The previous 2 phases can be thought of as creating a ball. The leather is initially relaxed but capable of structure, the air provides connection to the material as it inflates and the surface stretches to accommodate this inflation. Now we look at how to move the ball.
The SpiralBody section relates to the movement of the body in specific complex ways so as to maximise the effect of the MartialBody. It is the process of engraining movement habits that are complex in nature, and that will confuse an opponent, hide our mass from them, transform forces acting upon us, and make us capable of producing great force. This part of training should not be mistaken as a specific martial movement method that is not transferable. The concepts found here are as universally applicable to the BJJ athlete as they are to the AikidoKa.
If the SpiralBody section relates to how we move the body, the FluidBody section relates to how we use the mind. This is the final section of the martial body training as it I perhaps the most difficult to develop. The mind is the root of movement and understanding how to utilize our attention, awareness and perception can be a painstaking process to undertake. Without the development of these attributes however, we simply wont move correctly in accordance with the ever changing conditions of the fight.
The cycle continues
The progress through these sections and the attributes that they create can sometimes feel like a type of linear ‘progression’ and indeed, in some ways it is. The journey through the various ‘bodies’ certainly results in progression of body method and skill.
However, the system is designed such that when you complete the final period of training in the FluidBody module you then return to the beginning and begin dedicated training in HeavyBody once again.
The reason for this cyclical process is that through the course of the training you can begin to create some unwanted tension, misalignments etc, so we return to the heavy and stable bodies, this time to take a deeper look at our structure and state. The cycle is never ending, every run through creating a deeper level of body method.
Attributes Feeding Attributes.
Linked to the progressive design of the MartialBody system is how, ultimately, the attributes fuel one another. The body and mind are, after all, inseparable and the methods by which they move in combative encounter should be whole and combined. As such the separation of the MartialBody into Attributes, is something of an illusion. Really when under pressure and working with resistance, the body will do what it must expressing the 6 Bodies in constant combination, flow or exchange.
An example of this would be how the Sinking of the HeavyBody and the Rising of the StableBody structure and ElasticBody produce a type of ‘powered equilibrium’. This is a state like a scale with huge weights on either edge balancing each other out. There is massive potential in this seemingly static unit. As a force enters the system, either from outside influence or from the rotations of the central nexus of the ConnectedBody, the balance between rising and falling is disturbed and results in rotation, this rotation is the SpiralBody attribute. In this example we have built a stable and connected body, capable of expressing sinking and rising simultaneously, which is then motivated to change and rotate by external or internal action. The process is the expression of the ‘MartialBody’ as a singular, rather than as a set of 6 attributes.
So, in conclusion we can say that the MartialBody system is a deliberate and concentrated program of body method development. There is method to the arrangement of the sections and their relationship to each other which lead to the amalgamation of them all into the ‘MartialBody’
The hardest part however …. Is to actually get out of the house, off the chair, and really, sincerely train it.