Oct 25, 2010

Finding the "Flow" in Training and In Life


There is a sweet spot of balance between force and relaxation where you achieve your goals with total precision and minimal effort.

Lesson taken from an all-day Hand to Hand Combat seminar. We learned this lesson in the context of striking blows but, like all solid principles, it applies to all aspects of life.

When we train with clarity and have sureness of purpose as well as confidence in the universe and ourselves, the flow happens. I remember a yoga class I regularly attended in which Forearm Stand was a one of the standard class poses. Despite my efforts, I could never get up into that pose properly. Each class I would use my will to attempt the pose, usually with disappointing results. One day I approached the class with the mindset of “I will just have fun today and see where the class takes me” —- and bam, I went right up into Forearm Stand effortlessly.

Flash forward to this all-day Hand to Hand Combat seminar with top Russian trainers and I’m looking around the room at the fighters who seriously study these martial arts and feeling understandably intimidated yet unexplainably determined. I’m not a violent person by nature and I’ve always had a hard time punching. I’ve never felt as though I had a lot of power behind my punches. While working on a kinetic short range of motion strike, I was “willing” my punches to be harder, but it wasn’t happening. Regardless of the force I used, there was no power. My instructor kept telling me (in his Russian accent) to not tighten up my muscles before each punch and to just “let it happen.” Right, I thought. A yoga pose, maybe, but a punch takes force! After many futile, willful attempts I finally listened to what my instructor had told me. My punch landed so hard that the sound made ME jump.

I wish I had a magic spell for allowing myself to regularly get in the flow. I may not have that tactic down yet, but I do know that intention, training and confidence, go a long way.

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