Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Your Sense of Touch

Balance your martial arts with kindness


 sense of touch – both fine and immediate, lies at the heart of all martial arts training.

Pressure point self defense; bone and joint manipulation; internal power…it’s rare to see a high-level technique where a subtle sense of touch is absent.

As our bodies have to be balanced between strength and gentleness (for advanced martial technique to work), so too do our minds, and in particular, our emotions.

Sparring, hard physical weapons training, aggressive mat work….should be balanced with a smile, and lots of giving.

Traditional Thai massage


The hand that breaks a concrete block should also be able to heal.

That’s why I always encourage students to explore the world through their sense of touch. Especially through massage. It’s deeply important to spread kindness through touch.

There are various reasons (all linked to the practise of advanced martial arts) why martial artists should at least think about healing others through touch –

1.  Most internal power techniques (the substance underpinning many martial arts) require a certain relaxed state to work properly. Deep touch, such as through massage, relaxes both the giver and the receiver. In fact, the situation is often trance like.

2.  Through touch, the giver opens her or his own energy channels. Blockages disappear. The receiver has his/her channels opened via touch as well . This type of “manipulation” is extremely important for advanced martial technique.

Chinese Kung Fu master Dr. Yang Jwing Ming


3.  The giver learns to relax through touch. He practises being comfortable in another’s space and not to be invasive in that space when healing. This leads to close quarter confidence at the level of energy flow.

4.  Day to day life forces us to “have something to prove”. Often, we’re measured by our external success – money, titles, possessions, etc.  In the world of touch, you live “in the moment”. There is nothing to prove. You exist, and the receiver exists.

East Indian head massage


5.  Body reading is a practise that you can perform visually. How does she stand? Does he have a hollow chest? What colour is the tongue and what does that reveal about the state of her health? That’s traditional Asian medicine.

But touch is body reading at a much closer level, much akin to the reading of the organs’ pulses by a traditional Chinese doctor. The hands begin to read bones, muscles, fascia, blood flow, the “warm and damp winds” of the body, etc.

I encourage everyone, martial artist or non-martial artist, to practise giving some form of basic health massage – shoulders, foot, hands. Nothing special. Just a chance to “bridge” with another through kindness.

And a chance to balance the hard edges we encounter during the day with a deep sense of peace and benevolence!

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