“No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” 2 Timothy 2:4-5
We are currently sharing with you several “Rules of Three” that are part of training in Grace Martial Arts.
You can look at previous Rules here:
Strength is important in martial arts and self defense. We use physical strength to generate power in movement.
As we’ve pointed out in previous articles the source of strength in Yon Ch’uan comes from a relaxed posture. Being relaxed doesn’t mean you are at complete rest. It means you are aware and ready to respond to a threat, but from a relaxed posture rather than tension. Tension is slow. Relaxed is fast.
We have also looked at exercises that develop strength in previous articles and invite you to read about them here.
Power in martial arts and self defense begins in the legs. We say that “power is rooted in the feet and developed in the legs.” The idea of rooting is that our feet are firmly planted on the ground. When we stand or step we move from a strong position of balance and connection to the ground under our feet. If we do not have a strong stance, we cannot defend ourselves or people we love successfully during an attack.
The first lessons in martial arts are aimed at teaching new students how to stand. Learning how to strengthen one’s ability to stand properly and powerfully prepares them to move quickly through a series of defensive and offensive stances while remaining rooted to the ground. The purpose is to move opponents while remaining unmoved. It takes time to master the skill of standing, but it is essential to defeating a stronger opponent.
The same is true in the spiritual arena. The first lesson is how to stand – “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore …”
Our success in life depends to a great extent on how we “structure” our thoughts, beliefs and actions. Structuring in martial arts is the idea of how we stand (stances) and move through those stances without losing the “rooting” necessary to defend ourselves against attack successfully. The key to a strong stance is understanding both the purpose and motivation in combination with the elements we can access and train. (“… when in motion one is still rooted” – The Chinese Five Word Song)
Bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and tissue are elements we are able to access and train in the physical realm. Our stretching routine is part of training our body to stand properly and move through a combination of stances with maximum flexibility and strength – both internal and external. We learn the “truth” about the physical realm we live in and how to best use the tools God has given us.
Having a strong stance means we need to have strength in our feet and ankles. The feet and ankles are often referred to as the “rudders” for our movement in martial arts.
The next step is to move that strength from our feet and ankles to our legs. That’s where power is developed. Continuing the boat or ship illustration, the legs are like the boat. The shape of the boat and thickness of the hull and sides are vital to the power of the boat to cut through choppy waters to the destination.
“The legs should be curved like a bow. This is the balance of our advance and retreat. If our legs curve like a bow, we can advance and retreat smoothly, evenly, and circularly.” The Chinese Five Word Song
“Your legs will feel hardship. Oh, my bones! You will experience much pain while you train your legs to rest like trees rooted deep within the earth. Once trained, however, you will stand sturdily like a rooted tree.” The Chinese Five Word Song
The waist is like the captain of the ship. The captain determines the direction the ship will go. We say that “power is rooted in the feet, developed in the legs and directed by the waist.” The captain depends on the strength of the sides and bottom of the ship along with the stability of the rudder to ensure that it can withstand any decision he makes about turning the ship in a new direction.
“Our legs work like a bow, and our advance and retreat should be controlled from the waist by the spine.” The Chinese Five Word Song
“Your retreat and advance should be controlled by the waist.” The Chinese Five Word Song
The arms are like the sails of the ship. They reach out to take full advantage of the wind and are available to the captain and crew to change movement when necessary. We say that “power is rooted in the feet, developed in the legs. directed by the waist and manifests in the fingers.”
We do the same thing with our arms. We extend them to take full advantage of the power of the unbendable arm (read more about the unbendable arm here).
The rules of engagement in self-defense are simple – face the enemy, stand strong, defend well.
“Movement of legs and hands all work together.” The Chinese Five Word Song
We will look at another set of Rules of Three for Grace Martial Arts when our special series continues.
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