As I write, I realize how difficult it actually is to encompass so many possibilities on a meager blog. In my last post I proposed a series of questions that one could think about while doing Martial Arts from the Personal perspective. I can think of more, but what I want to do here is use some of these questions to broaden the scope of what constitutes Integral Martial Arts.
In the first post on the blog I introduced how Martial Arts can be understood from different Stages or Levels, although I did not detail how I think every single Stage understands training. One of the things that makes Integral Theory complicated is how it all fits together and creates a huge monster, i.e. the Universe itself in all its intricate glory. In this case, not only can the Martial Arts be understood from different Perspectives, but each Perspective is understood differently depending on your Stage.
My questions about breathing, visualization, concentration, etc. in the last post might cause someone in the Red or Orange Stages to ask, “What do I care about these things? They don’t help me win fights or trophies. They don’t help me fight longer and harder.” Maybe they do and maybe they don’t. I guess it depends on how you implement them. However, taking that view is limited and partial. For instance, what benefits might be gained from learning to breath correctly? Is that only good for fighting?
Here’s a story about that. When I was in graduate school getting my PhD in Biomedical Engineering, I did animal research for years. Mostly, I used rabbits for my research, and ultimately I became allergic to them. If I breathed in their dander, I would come down with an asthma attack. After a string of nights where I sat in bed at night struggling to breathe, I decided to see a doctor. The next day, while I was having an attack coincidentally, I went to the clinic and they measured my expiration flow rate and lung capacity. Both were normal. The doctor was puzzled. He told me there was nothing wrong with me, but I begged him to do something. After all, he could hear me wheezing. So he consented and put me on a nebulizer in the office with some Albuterol and kept a close eye on me. After about 10 minutes I felt like a million bucks. I could breathe normally. So at that point the doctor took my measurements again for expiration rate and lung capacity. Lo and behold, those measurements were close to TWICE that of a normal person. He was floored.
“You have asthma.” He said.
I nodded triumphantly. Of course I had asthma, dummy! The only thing was that during an asthma attack my breathing measurements were REDUCED to that of an “average human” my size. While under an attack, I was “normal”. While I was well, my usual lung function was about twice normal and I was used to existing like that. Feeling “normal capacity for my size” was odd for my lungs. That’s also why during this asthma attack I was able to function just fine, albeit I was a little scared and worried. Physically I was unimpaired.
I attribute this to my Martial Arts training, specifically my focus of study on breathing. In essence, my training taught me how to get through asthma attacks and how to increase my lung function for every day activities. That benefits me every day….. fighting and combat are side issues. I’m talking about walking down the street, taking a run, making love, or whatever the activity. I’m still frequently out of cardio shape and not a marathon runner by any means, but being able to compensate with my breathing allows me to be a little better than I would have been at those things had I not trained breathing.
Even so, I’m still a novice at breathing! I’ve walked into yoga classes where they discussed things about breathing that cracked open huge doors for me that I never even knew existed! There is a long way to go.
Nevertheless, this is an example of how a skill in Martial Arts affects every day life for the better. There are a host of life skills that can be developed that may or may not be useful in a fight but are completely advantageous in Life.