Visceral

(Part 10 of 67 in ~ My Journey)

My suspicion is that, in our convenient society, we don’t need to be acutely aware of our balance and body positions vis a vis the ground because many of us don’t do much physical labor anymore, or play freely as kids outdoors now that we have so many enticing computer games to entertain us.

~ Wayne Muromoto, from The base: close to the ground

More than a year ago, I wrote that parkour is about freedom (and much more.) There is also a visceral component that I’m finding is playing a greater and greater role.

Visceral, adj.
characterized by, or proceeding from, instinct rather than intellect: a visceral reaction; characterized by, or dealing with, coarse or base emotions.

When you treat your body like a Cadillac meat vehicle – that is, when it’s just a mode of conveyance from one creature-comfort to the next – you soon cease to be intimately aware of what your body is feeling. A large part of the allure of parkour is the immediate and clear, honesty and reality of the experience of training. It’s obvious that your body and mind are not readily separable, but in normal daily life, one mostly ignores the body. In parkour, the body and mind have to work in harmony.

I have a lot more to say about this harmony (my personal interpretation, and explanation, thereof.) But for the moment, I’m just going to start with the above.

Dogs and Wolves

The thing is, the DNA of dogs and wolves are over 99 percent similar. … So while they do have physical differences, …what’s there to stop a dog from attacking the same herd it is supposed to guard? It’s breeding and training. In the human counterpart, it’s attitude, ethos and goals. Predators and protectors are totally different kinds of people, although they share many different traits. The sharing of traits, however, is the danger zone for protectors.

Or, as one friend in self-defense training joked about it to me, “The closest thing to criminals are cops. Both like to drive around in cars all day scoping out the joints, both carry guns, boss people around, and drink a lot of coffee.”

~ Wayne Muromoto, from Dogs and Wolves and Budo

It’s definitely worth thinking through the “sharing of traits” being discussed. That whole attitude/goals thing is critical for you to turn out a decent human being after a few years of your martial arts training. If you haven’t thought about your attitude/goals, you are on the good-intentions-paved road to Bad Times. If you haven’t made conscious choices about what you want to internalize, you are careening along without intentionally steering.

Stance and posture

In the most basic interpretation of an entry-level kata, the aggressor is allowed to grab a wrist, sleeve or lapel, and then you go through the prearranged movements step by step. In more advanced work, if one observes a higher-ranking exponent of the style, just before the aggressor makes contact, the defender moves to a different position in reaction to the upcoming grab. By the time the grab is made, the defender is already well into his movement to take advantage of the attacker’s momentum seamlessly, and then taking charge of the distance and “flow” of the encounter.

~ Wayne Muromoto from More on Kamae

Nyuunanshin. And that is not a typo.

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Nyuunanshin roughly translated means having a “flexible, pliant, generous spirit.” It’s having an attitude of being open to one’s feelings, environment, and situation, and trying to adapt instead of trying to be like an unmoving, solid block of wood. It’s sort of a contrast to the notion of fudoshin (being immovable, like the implacable god Fudo-Myoo); but fudoshin concerns a spirit of facing adversity. Nyuunanshin is not so much about a combative mind as it is about being able to grasp or accept concepts in a learning environment. It’s not about being a pushover; you do have convictions. But you are flexible enough to look at all sides and then make a conclusion.

 ~ Wayne Muromoto of The Classic Budoka from  77. Nyuunanshin: Being “open” to your feelings