Today we will talk about one of the most fundamental aspects of the 'FluidBody' method, utilizing our 'intent' to enhance and fuel our movement. Some Traditional Martial Arts place this concept at the very forefront of their training, Chinese Xing Yi Quan being a prominent example. This is because 'Intent' as a reference for body and mind connection is a very useful way to enhance our movement and create more power.
Intent can have many different interpretations, but in the traditional systems it means something slightly different to the common western description of 'The will to act'. There are some who say it means mind, some who say it means visualization, still others who say it is the conscious and direct use of our nervous systems, however in the interest of clarity I will use my own definition of Intent as it relates to the FluidBody methods I teach.
Creation of movement can often be thought of in two ways, the mechanical process of articulating our bodies, or the minds ability to create those mechanical processes. But there is a 3rd important part to the process of movement that straddles both of these concepts. It is the manner in which the mind transfers and receives information to or from the mechanical tissues. This ‘link’ is what I define as the 'Intent' system. The training methods we employ to train this system are largely founded around forming the thought to really do something, but not letting the body carry it out. When you undertake this training it becomes very clear that this thought to do something links to the body via another process, this process is the intent.
But how exactly does this seemingly simple practice translate to real refinement of movement? Well numerous experiments have shown a direct link between thinking of an action and that thoughts improvement of the physical action itself.
“A study in 2004 found that volunteers were able to increase muscle strength simply by imagining using the muscles. Scientists divided thirty volunteers into groups: some did physical training of their little finger for 15 minutes, five days a week for twelve weeks. The others only imagined doing the training. At the end of the twelve weeks the group doing the physical exercise had increased their muscle strength by 53% as expected, but the group that imagined doing the exercise also had a significant increase in strength of 35%. Another study in Canada showed that participants who learned a series of foot movements through mental rehearsal alone showed an improvement in performance. Not only that, but scans showed changes in the brain had occurred that were consistent with the kind of changes that occur after physical practice. The researchers suggested that mental practice improved performance by acting on preparation and anticipation of movements. “
From 'Whole science article - Visualisation key to improving sports performance"
NOTE: study links present at the bottom of this article.
In MartialBody we combine these two processes in a very refined way, first utilizing and building the intent, then following it with the physical action. When we consider actual movement vs imagined or intended movement we find that they are actually extremely similar. Both rely on specific neural pathways, often in specific sequence to achieve the movement. Over time the practice will strengthen and optimize the organization of these neurons whether the resulting movement is achieved or not.
The training of the intent, the link between the minds will to act and the bodies physical action, found in the MartialBody strengthens the link between these two systems. Often it is described as the strength at which the command to act is transferred to the tissues that make the motion occur. For instance, it has been shown that some of the strongest people in the world are able to command their muscles to create maximum volumes of force in shorter periods of time. This skill can be laid at the feet of the signal from their brain being pure and direct. Strengthening the signal is the essence of building the intent in the training and although we are not trying to win any strong man competitions, the basic idea is the same.
Intent could also be thought of as the bodies preparatory or anticipatory mechanisms combined with the health or strength of the nervous system. Once this strong source, signal and action is in harmony a new and uniquely refined way of moving presents itself. We see the martial arts experts from various systems moving effortlessly but with extremely strong and clear expression. This is the result of a clear mind, linked to a connected body by a strong intent.