|Looking after yourself|
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Remember where you are
When learning a martial art it is crucial to remember that combat can be dangerous.
There is a risk of injury.
This is why discipline is important in class.
Training daily at home between lessons is the best way to avoid injury in or out of class.
A gentle daily workout will significantly strengthen your body.
Stronger muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments - combined with mobile joints - will enable your body to respond to adversity in a better way.
The higher your grade, the more necessary home training becomes.
Not training at home?
When a student fails to train at home, they should commit a reasonable period of time before the lesson to preparing their body.
Loosen the joints, lengthen the muscles, improve flexibility.
Do not simply rush into combat.
Avoid a cursory workout; the time you commit to sensible training is an investment in your own wellbeing.
It is common for students in a martial arts class to tense-up.
This bad habit is often acquired at a young age.
The problem with tensing is that it locks the joints and stops the skeleton from moving freely.
Instead of falling to the floor in an organic, natural way... the body is stiff, brittle and rigid, and falls like a plank of wood.
There is a Chuang Tzu story about a drunken man falling out of a cart.
His inebriated state meant that he did not realise that he was falling, nor did he tense-up.
Consequently, he was not injured by the fall.
This is not promoting drunkenness or 'spacing-out'; but rather: relaxation and not anticipating/getting ready.
The drunken man simply went with what was happening - without resistance - and was unharmed.
Everybody feels fear.
It can be an overwhelming, overpowering experience, or merely anxiety.
This is normal and natural.
The main thing is to be present, in the moment.
Place your mind on what is happening, rather than what you are anticipating.
Have faith in what you are learning, and avoid resisting.
It is easy to get carried away during combat training. It is easy to be injured or cause injury.
By remaining composed, loose and friendly - safety can be encouraged.
Play, rather than fight.
Aggression has no place in our class.
If you pull a muscle or hurt yourself during martial arts training, it is important to rehabilitate slowly and carefully.
Combine rest with gentle exercise.
'Constructive rest' (performed twice daily) is ideal.
Work through your qigong and stretching exercises cautiously; avoiding any extremes or discomfort.
Pain is a warning; do not ignore it.
It is quite common for students to neglect their fluid intake.
Dehydration is very bad for you.
Ideally, you should be drinking well over a litre of water during a training session.
If you do not drink this much in class, be sure to re-hydrate when you get home.
Relaxation is not the same as rest.
Rest means stopping, and doing nothing.
Watching TV does not qualify as rest.
Taken literally, rest means either lying on the ground and undertaking 'constructive rest', or actually going to bed and getting some sleep.
Looking after yourself
The best way to prepare your body for class is to:
Be playful, not macho
Stay loose and relaxed
Do not get caught-up in fear
Prepare your body for combat
Respect your practice partner
Exercise your body gently every day
Keep your mind on what you are doing
Take some time to bring the mind 'home'
18 April 1995
Last updated 29 August 2019