Sunday, October 11, 2009

Nia and Martial Arts

Punches, Blocks, Chops, fists, spear finger, kicks, knee sweeps, and stances are all moves borrowed from the martial arts. Every Nia class utilizes some variation of these moves blended with dance. In martial arts, the hands are trained to be so skilled they become a weapon when used in combat. Each of these movements conditions the body in unique ways, like the front kick gives us stability in the ball joint, grounded foot, and agility in the thrust of the kicking leg. The kick also allows us an opportunity to breath out and make sound as a way to naturally strengthen core muscles. Timing and measurement of where to place the foot further challenges our mind/body connection.
The upward/outward/inward/downward block all are great opportunities to practice with "yes" and verbal "no's" as we center and practice technique of movement through the shoulder joint. This is also a good time to have the martial arts attitude( depending on whether it's Tai chi - patience, Aikido - peaceful warrior or TKD defense/attack) beyond the move, and to access how we utilize our personal energy. The verbal words of yes, no, are a way to stimulate emotions as well, and even to empower a "no" or a "yes" with different meaning.
The moves along with a loud or whispered "yes" or "no" are effective at uniting the emotional body with the physical and with our core. Add to this moving and measuring how we balance our own energy throughout the class and with all the moves. The "simple" technique of adapting the moves to fit ones body, vs. copying the moves the way the teacher demonstrates them builds confidence. It's also a way of strengthening a relationship with self ( through being responsive and confident in your process) which in turn opens up new ways of being in relation to others.
In Aikido it's described as being vertically aligned first. Aligned with your center, the earth, the sky, your spirit, ( independence), and then relating horizontally without losing one's verticality. Being overly horizontal (co-dependent)would be like losing energy constantly by worrying about everyone around you, or having weak boundaries internally/externally or overly concerned with boundaries over all. This would be the sense of falling forward during a kick, or leaning forward during a block in a stance.
A sense of balance of being true to oneself, and yet also relating with others , even and especially in conflict, would be the desired Aiki approach. This is an example of one way to bring Nia "dancing through life" into your life.
I hope you find this tidbit helpful, I always enjoy the moment to reflect and bring forth these notes. How's your verticality today? Aho, Kelly