This past class, we looked more deeply at the subtle parts of movement in a basic technique.

I may have said before that there are more things to study within martial arts than you will ever be able to.  The items you choose are what characterize who you are and what you learn.  In my case, I have found that there is generally a lot of external focus on technique:  how many boards can you break, how many tournaments can you win, how close is your form to the traditional…. and so on.  Pre-modern martial arts focus a lot on tradition and whether you are copying the master correctly.  Modern martial arts focus on what works in a tournament or on the street.  There’s a lot of great things in both of these.

However, there is another aspect characteristic to the post-modern forms of martial arts:  how much can you learn about yourself?  Don’t get me wrong. Fighting in tournaments and winding your way through bar fights can teach you a lot about yourself too.  It’s really a question of what exactly you want to learn about you, more than anything else.  For instance, this past class we took one technique:  a rising block and counter, and we analyzed it.  For an hour we just looked at that one karate technique.

Instead of concentrating on how useful that technique is on the street or in a tournament (not that useful), we looked at body mechanics.  We spent almost an hour on the body mechanics of what is inside that punch.  What are your hips doing?  What are your shoulders doing?  What are your feet doing?  What’s your weight distribution?  How does that hold up in slow motion?  For speed?  What about single vs. double moment in the hips?  On and on it went.

Integrally, that was just looking at the Upper Right quadrant.  For the next class, I can very well take that same technique and now look at the Upper Left stuff:  gross, subtle, causal, non-dual portions of what’s in the technique.  If you ever went to a yoga class, this is pretty much everything they do.  They dwell in the Upper Left in most schools.  It’s all about what your prana (chi) is doing and how the energy flows, once you get the form and flexibility right.  It is important to remember that for something to be “Integral” it has to include AQAL.  The “Q” in AQAL stands for “Quadrants”.  It has to include all Quadrants, i.e. all perspectives. So not only is it important to look deeply at a technique in the Upper quadrants, you also have to look at it from the Lower.  I don’t think that is too much of a problem once you start sparring and working things with partners…. it’s a whole other blog post.