Training with the late Guru Bill Aranda, Note #3

Training date: Sunday, January 27, 2013

What I remember the most from training:
GM Aranda was still recovering from chemo; this has been the case for several weeks now. Much of the session was focused on body mechanics. I was taught how to move my body with each strike/angle of attack. It made a big difference in making me move like I know what I am doing, and behind each strike I felt I generated much more power.

What the session made me understand/think/learn
1). Body mechanics is a simple but powerful idea. I am not surprised, since it is a fundamental element of FMA; like GM Aranda likes to say, FMA is difficult because it is simple, not because it is complex. This observation is consistent with the idea of body mechanics. Body mechanics is difficult because it is simple. It is clearer to me now that in FMA one can optimize the power inherent in each angle of attack by moving the whole body in the direction that each strike naturally wants to move the body. It is the cumulative torque in the gross and fine motor movements–i.e., the cumulative torque from the motion of the body, the hips, arms, and wrist–that generate the optimum force behind each strike.

It is simple if you just learn to feel how your body must move itself naturally while wielding a weapon of any weight; it is complex if you take the time to frame it as ‘body mechanics’ and break down what is actually happening in sequence. Perhaps I might have finally learned a big part of what it means to fight the way I naturally fight.

2). Body mechanics, the idea, is also an intriguing life lesson because it is about the many ways in which we naturally move: bobbing and weaving, ducking and swaying, rising and sinking, contracting and expanding. Pretty profound of an idea when you sit back and recognize how elegant the human body is able to move naturally. It is this profundity that compels me to extract life lessons from it.

For a while now, I have been searching for FMA principles and applying them to analyze political campaigns, since campaigns are fundamentally political combat. And in the process of doing so, I have grown to appreciate how FMA principles can be applied to life, in general. So far, I extract from it the capacity to move in opposites.

Perhaps this is a consequence of getting older, or of being in a profession where I must seek the good and the bad, but to me the ‘capacity to move in opposites’ principle makes perfect sense. It is a capacity we call by other names: balance and integration, being two of these other terms.

As dynamic systems hard-wired to seek equilibrium, we must develop the ‘capacity to move in opposites’ in order to regain balance, to get back to being whole. And as individuals with multiple dimension to our identity, we must have the ‘capacity to move in opposites’ in order to function and be integrated. Life is about rising and sinking, as it is about contracting and expanding, bobbing and weaving, ducking and swaying. It is when we demonstrate the ‘capacity to move in opposites’ that we optimize our potential to adapt and overcome. More to the point, it is those who excessively and rigidly rely only on one way of doing things that function essentially in dysfunction. It is they who operate within their limits; it they who are maladaptive, who develop a pathological sense of self as they repress and deny their opposites.

I view this capacity as license to accept one’s true nature — as some would call it, to practice ‘radical acceptance’ of oneself. Like Freud is famously known to have argued, we have two innate instincts: the life instinct and the death instinct. These are in constant tension. The life instinct drives us toward pleasure, health and survival, while the death instinct drives us toward illness, dysfunction, and death.  One tempers the other, like true opposites, like yin and yang. When we accept our true nature we move toward a place of balance. We heal what is broken. Living authentically is living freely as we are. Both require that we recognize and accept the opposites within.

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