At this past Black Belt Training in Dayton I was asked to teach a short session. My goal was to show people how to get into fighting focus, what athletes call the zone. This is done with a particular breathing pattern, spinal alignment, hand alignments and…getting into gravity. The combination of these things help move your from the fight, flight, freeze neuro response into the zone or fighting focus.
Unfortunately we never go to do the lesson I intended because of…gravity. Being in gravity is a phrase we use to describe an understanding of body movement that is difficult to put into words. But this understanding of being in gravity is what makes up our taijutsu. It is what separates our art and movement from the need to use muscular force (this doesn’t mean we don’t use our muscles).
For those of us who understand, the phrase just makes sense. For others it can be confusing and in one case at the recent training brought out a little ignorance as a student argued with me about the words, in gravity, because they didn’t like them.
*Little side note here: when someone is teaching it is your duty to try to understand, not to try to justify your lack of understanding. If you have this urge you might want to read my post about manners from last month’s newsletter.
Back to gravity. Gravity is our medium, what we move through. We are always opposing gravity to some extent in order not to fall to the ground. We do this with our bones and muscles. Athletes who can defy gravity with the greatest ease and style are the ones we laud the most. But all of this requires an antagonistic relationship with gravity.
Taijutsu teaches us to have a cooperative relationship with gravity, to move with it, to let it move us, to be in gravity and flow with a power that is far stronger than any muscular contraction. If you want to advance in our art you must learn to be in gravity. You have to give up the adolescent need for muscular strength and speed and grow beyond you physical limitations.
Being in gravity is required to understand the advanced lessons of our art, it is the gateway to fighting focus, and the ability which will allow you to keep training into your later years.
If you understand being in gravity practice to be in it all the time. If you don’t understand it ask one of us…politely.
We’ll be glad to explain.