shaolin school of martial arts located in Cleveland Ohio
4100 E.71 St.
Cleveland Ohio 44105
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Everyone possesses an inborn ability to fight
It is a natural reaction to threat or stress and requires no formal training.
What, then, distinguishes these random patterns of attack and defense which arise
spontaneously in the untrained from the actions and reactions of a trained martial artist?
The answer to this question lies in the trained fighter's application of
certain principles to the movements and strategies of unarmed combat.
These principles form the basis or "essence" of martial art.
It is because these principles are utilized that fighting is elevated to the level of "art."
In fact, it is the understanding and application of basic natural principles,
which allows mankind as a whole to continuously improve and refine capabilities in any endeavor.
Such knowledge is made manifest in technique; technique, in turn, is based on the understanding of natural principles. Technical application of natural principles makes it possible for construction workers to build houses, doctors to treat diseases and the weaker to overcome the stronger in a fight.
Without formal training,
the larger and stronger naturally defeat the smaller and weaker.
Therefore, a basic premise of training to fight as an "art" must be that the methods employed should make it possible for the smaller and weaker to defeat (or at least successfully defend against) the larger and stronger. As we have observed, it is not necessary to create techniques for the stronger to defeat the weaker, as this occurs without formal training.
So it is logical that the basic premise of
creating fighting techniques which qualify,
as "art" must, at least theoretically,
be designed so that a smaller and weaker combatant can apply
them successfully against a larger and stronger opponent.
Now that we have a definition of martial art,
The next logical question to ask is what type of techniques
will allow the weaker fighter to defend him or herself against the stronger.
Which techniques will be
effective against larger and stronger opponents?
Common sense tells us that techniques based on brute strength will never allow the weaker to defeat the stronger (the stronger opponent by definition possesses more brute strength than the weaker, so a technique based on brute force is doomed to fail the weaker fighter because in a contest of force against force, the stronger force invariably prevails).
Once techniques of brute force (that is, techniques which require the use of force against force) have been disqualified as fitting our definition of martial art, upon what shall we base our techniques?
The logical answer is to base martial techniques upon principles which allow us to use our strengths against an opponent's weaknesses, thereby circumventing superior force and applying our own force where it will have the greatest effect. Another way of describing the techniques of martial art is to say such techniques are based upon maximum efficiency in obtaining the desired result.
What is efficient
In a violent encounter there is a real possibility for injury,
and the longer the fight lasts the greater the chances of you being hurt.
Therefore, efficient technique should allow one to end the encounter as quickly as possible.
This means that an efficient technique should either disable an
opponent or afford one an opportunity to escape in the shortest possible span of time. Now
that we have a definition of martial art (techniques of combat based upon
principles which allow a fighter to use his or her strengths against an
opponent's weaknesses) and have defined the parameters within which we want
these techniques to operate (maximum efficiency in ending the threat to one's
person in the shortest possible time), we need to discover which principles are
relevant to creating efficient martial technique.
A logical place to start is with ourselves.
We should begin by discovering which principles of body use will
allow us to use our minds and bodies most efficiently, thereby maximizing our
abilities to move in a free and
coordinated manner as we generate power appropriately.
These principles of maximum efficient use of ourselves must be universal
(as there can be only one best way to use ourselves),
and will apply to movements in any physical endeavor.
These are the principles that underlie all efficient motion.
It is these same principles which are included and discussed in the various martial classics (ancient and modern).
cardinal principle of efficient movement is balance.
This includes an internal balance, which unifies the mind, and body as well as the actual physical balance of the body itself. Balance is a dynamic state, one that involves constant adjustment even when standing still.
When the body is in a state of true balance (that is, aligned with gravity and completely free of excess tension), it is poised to move and work (generate force) most efficiently. The mind and body have innate mechanisms that act to maintain the alignment and balance of the body, in motion and at rest.
Allowing these mechanisms to function, as they should, free of subconscious bad habit as well as unnatural posturing under conscious control is the first step toward creating efficient martial techniques. In fact, all martial techniques must be structured around the innate reflexes and natural design of the body if they are to be truly efficient. In short, using the body as it was designed to be used will always prove more efficient than using it in contradiction to its natural design.
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