Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Redirecting Anger


any aspects of physical technique in martial arts can also be manifested emotionally.

In the first 4 posts of the 6 Healing Breaths series, I discussed how simple acts of breathing – coupled with 6 special sounds – act on the physical body as well as the emotions in specific and positive ways.

The harmony of mind and body has always been an important goal in the traditional martial arts, something we all strive for well into old age. Long ago, we discovered that what affects the body affects the mind and what affects the mind also affects the body.

Self defense is the same. We deal with an attack not just physically but mentally as well.

One of the core principles of the martial arts of Aikido and Aikijitsu comes to mind: the redirection of an opponent’s attack, performed smoothly, almost effortlessly, and with a calm mind.

Let’s look at a few more examples.  In Chi Kung, we deal with energy blockages through exercises, breathing, massage, pressure points – and directing the body’s energy (chi) through the meridian pathways.
In Tai Chi, we nullify an opponent’s attack by redirecting it – in various circles, down into the ground, in and back up, etc. We do this physically and mentally.

The question I’d like to raise is: can we mentally redirect an emotional attack that comes from outside of us ?


Usually our first reaction is to fall back on the “fight or flight” response. Either we stiffen up and scream back…or we retreat. Either way, the heart, lungs, liver, etc. take a pummeling.

How often has someone said something cruel to you and you still carried its toxins around in your body 2 or 3 days later. Was your energy level sill balanced or was it listless or hyper. How did you sleep...edgy, troubled? How was your appetite...non-existent, over-compensating?

Let’s explore 1 or 2 examples of how to redirect a basic emotional push from the front so it has no mental or physical effect on you. Allow me first to illustrate by using kote gaeshi, the wrist throw shared by many martial arts.

PHYSICAL RESPONSE – an attacker pushes your chest directly from in front of you with his right hand. As he touches you, clasp the back of his right hand with your left hand and shift backward with your right leg.

Redirect his push backward and to the side. Join you right hand to your left. Once you feel his balance extended beyond his centre of gravity, twist to the left and step with your left leg out to the left and backward, making him fall.

There are 2 redirections at work here – the first when you step back with your right leg, the second when you step back with the left leg and throw him to your left. (I have seen this work for very small people against fairly large individuals).

EMOTIONAL  RESPONSE  - an attacker strikes your face and chest with ferocious anger. Do not stiffen up. Inhale and exhale very slowly. You’re full of what the Chinese martial arts call song, a relaxed awareness.

1.  As the emotional hand strikes, imagine steering it across the chest to the right, then out through the inside of your right arm exiting through the fingers. Wash and cleanse your insides with your mind, like sweeping a patio after a storm.

Practitioners of internal power will know exactly what I mean. Those of you in Hsing I, I Chuan, etc. do this on a regular basis, physically and mentally.


Next, I’d like to use a simple spiral from the martial art of BaGua.

PHYSICAL RESPONSE – an attacker suddenly strikes at you with his left hand from behind. Pivot to the left, spiralling away from his attack and circle around so you face him from behind. If his attack is hard enough, he’ll have unbalanced himself against your gentleness and fallen into the empty space in front of him.

2.  Suddenly, an emotional hand pushes you with anger from behind. Stay calm and relaxed. Fill yourself up with a song state of mind and body. As his anger touches you, take it from your spine and lungs. Circle his anger around the outside of your skin and down the left side of your left leg to vanish out of your foot. Cleanse your spine and lungs.  

Your health is important, more important than an attacker’s bile. Practise this art and use it when someone wants to take an emotional “round out of you”!

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