Coaching and Martial Arts

Coaching and Martial Arts, just a short demonstration

This text is based on a demontration made between two coaches, and martial art practitioners,  Leynad (Yoseikan Budo)  and Avlyla (Kendo)

A coaching relationship and a martial arts practice have so many points in common. Of course, we could choose to highlight only the martial, fighting side, however also a different approach is possible, where the other one is not seen as an enemy to defeat, because we focus instead on finding the solution of a problem. Sometimes you are not in the position to face directly your ‘enemy’ (your problem), the power relation is unbalanced, you are weaker than your opponent and you know it too. What do you do then? In martial arts is normal to practice with somebody who is stronger, or taller, or heavier, or smarter than you – and even all of it at the same time. In this case, the approach ‘I win, you lose’ is probably not a realistic option… And the practice needs not to be very spectacular, even in simple gestures you can experience awareness and learning, and share it with your partner. Now, imagine there is a man practitioner, he is applying a technique with a fellow disciple, a woman. He has got an uncommon strength, he is tall, experienced and very determined. She is less strong, smaller, tiny bones.

As a demonstration he clenches her wrist with his hand, full strength, blocking her arm. Now the goal for her is to release herself, but the most obvious strategy reveals itself also the most inefficient: she applies all her muscular strength, she focuses hard on her goal, and her arm becomes stiff, her body is rigid. Her mind is so focused on the goal (I want, I must release myself) that it becomes like a tiny dot, the tip of a needle. So her wrist is not strong, it’s only rigid, empty and powerless. The stiffer her arm becomes, the more forceful is the man’s grasp. They experience a nice paradox: trying to apply muscular force, she only makes her opponent stronger. There is no presence, no awareness in her movement. And he is clasping so firmly, that his hand hurts, her wrist hurts too. No way, he wins, she loses, everything was so predictable. But here they both find that sometimes to get out from a problem you can only do the unexpected, the implicit, the opposite of what we think would be the solution. Win without fighting, defocus to be more aware, stop thinking to be more lucid. They start again. Now she shifts her consciousness, forgets about the result, lets go her conscious goal. Her mind is just here and now: seeing his smooth fingers clasping her wrist, feeling their pressure, the balance of his arm, his body. She sends her mind in her wrist, breathing through it, and her whole body becomes mind: that is, presence, awareness, centering. Body and mind become grounded, rooted. Before, the focus on her goal was static, unmoving, like a knot, and it made her stiff and weak. Now this awareness and connection with her center and the environment and her opponent’s energy create movement and flow. The knot has become a network. Her mind is only in the wrist, its imperceptible movements, its energy and breath gradually expanding. She puts all her intention and energy in her body, forgetting about her fears, his painful grasp, her expectations about winning or losing. Slowly, the wrist releases itself and as he perceives that, he grabs more and more forcefully – only, her hand is like water now. Nothing to cling to anymore. They have discovered something, both of them, there is no winner or loser, anymore.

This text is based on a demontration made between two coaches, and martial art practitioners,  Leynad (Yoseikan Budo)  and Avlyla (Kendo)