The Power of Movement

Everything around us is in constant movement. Life is continuously changing every second in different levels, unfolding along the lines of movement, expansion, contraction, growth and decay. This “movement”of life might be perceived by the senses as physical, spatial or chronological phenomena and it plays an essential role in the way we see ourselves and our interactions with the environment.

if we want to gain a better understanding of ourselves we must understand these movements and how they synchronize under a constant pulse. Everything in the natural world operates under a pulse, from the rotation of the stars and planets above, to our hearts’ beating sixty times per minute below.

The purpose of this article is to emphasize the importance of movement and its relation to natural laws. Life is made by movement. If we understand the importance of movement and its implications in our daily life, we may be able to have a better understanding of the dynamics of life and the forces behind them.

One example of this, is the importance of breathing.  Breathing is movement, it is an interaction of inhalations and exhalations. We tend to take the process of breathing for granted that we hardly pay attention to the way we breathe. A high percentage of the population breathe incorrectly due to their lack of attention to the process itself. Breath is life, and by denying ourselves the opportunity to breathe correctly, we are giving away our power.

if we breathe incorrectly it creates a chain reaction that can have a negative impact in our health and in the way we perceive the world. By improper breathing we starve our blood cells of oxygen, which in turn can have an adverse effect in our brain’s functioning, cognition and chemical processes. Chemical processes that are intimately related to our moods and states of mind. 

In brazilian Jiujitsu like in any other prominent martial art, mastering breathing is essential. It allow us to escape uncomfortable positions, while remaining calm to look for better options of transition. In the same manner in daily life, when “things are not going our way”, if we have a conscious control of our breathing and actions, it would be easier to take the most efficient solution for any given situation and to transition to prosperous grounds.

It is important to recognize your individuality. Each and everyone of us are unique beings. Even though we operate under universal natural laws, it is essential to develop the necessary sensibility to recognize your needs. Remember that almost every plant needs water to survive, but the quantity and conditions are predetermined by the nature and characteristics of the plant itself.

This phenomena is recognized in the world of grappling as “game”. Each jiujiteiro has their own way of expressing themselves, their unique fighting style, which is highly dependant in their physical attributes and mental dispositions. To find balance in your “game” takes time, training and constant experimentation.  But once it is found, is one of the most rewarding experiences that money can’t buy, it gives purpose and sense of direction to your grappling experience. It has the potential to make you a better person in different levels if allowed.  

Again, we go back to the importance of movement, which is the backbone of Jiujitsu, to be an effective practitioner you must be able to transition with ease from one position to the other.  The main goal is to move to the most dominant position which facilitates the implementation of leverage in your opponent and render him to submission.

In the same way, in daily life we must find our “game”. To find it is essential to be patient and sensitive to our individual needs. We are organic and complex beings, so it is of great importance to take the time, dedication and practice to know ourselves through our mind, body and its relative functions. Go out and expose yourself to new experiences, enroll in Brazilian Jiujitsu, read diverse books, interact with your surroundings and be open to different perspectives. You never know where it might lead you. Remember that the origin and end of life might not be ours to know or control, but how we live it, experience it, and the legacy we would leave behind, that… is completely under our control and disposition!

“Life is a journey, not a destination”

                                   -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Become a master in the art of living. Specially in these times where stress seems to be the norm. Learn to know your body, your body is wise when it works in harmony with your mind and soul.  It regenerates in the same manner nature does in proper conditions. Do physical activity every day, walk, breath consciously and be joyful!

 

White belt mentality
Relaxation allows clarity of mind. A relaxed mind and body is sufficiently detached to see through the gaps.

 

 

 

 

The Gentle Art: The importance of Perception

The white belt mentality

 

     Most of the time we experience life as a series of unrelated events, happening in space and time, and the only correlation we find between them is the associations of our likes, dislikes and past experiences.  We compartmentalize life into different sections: school, work, family, friends, etc. To a certain extent this is a practical and necessary social-adaptive tool, because in one way or another, we must make sense of our surroundings to become capable, efficient and functional individuals in society.  It provides a context for our personality to unfold. 

     You may be wondering what all this have to do with the gentle art of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu?   The answer is pretty simple.  EVERYTHING. Although the way we perceive life and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu may seem like two unrelated topics, they share a very subtle connection.  If we understand this connection we can become fertile soil for the seed of the gentle art to bloom.  The underlying factor underneath everything we do and experience is totally dependent in our PERCEPTION.  Our perception is the filter through which we filter all the experiences happening in our lives, from getting your first job, having a girlfriend or walking for the first time in the mats.

     How many times had you hear phrases such as “leave your ego at the door” or be “open minded” within the jiu-jitsu community? Probably many times.  But what does it really mean? What is this ego? Or what does it mean to have an open mind?

     To understand something we must know its origins, its basics.  The ego and the capability and willingness of our intellect (rational mind) to learn, are products of our perception.  Think of perception as the “software” and your brain as the “hardware” or computer.  A good software (perception) is more efficient processing (learning), storing (memory) and retrieving (using) information.  So, how are the ego and our state or mind a product of our perception? 

     First of all we should examine what it is and what it is not the ego.  The ego most of the time it’s seem as something fix and negative, or is associated with arrogance, which can be possible, but is a half-truth. The ego is nothing more that a psychological response, a persona or a “mask” we wear to fit certain scenarios.  As we can see is not something fix, but flexible like a wave that shapes to the contours of the objects it encounters.  The KEY is to be aware that the ego is not who we are, but it is a mere tool of navigation. 

     Remember when I mentioned in the beginning that we compartmentalize life into sections? So the ego is just a set of behaviors and expectations we select as appropriate for a giving context. How do we know what is appropriate and what is not? Here is where perception comes at play.  For example, if you are going to the beach to surf, you would take swimming shorts and not your gi and your belt, it does not mean the gi is bad, is just not appropriate for the purpose and occasion. 

     Remember I compared perception as mental software and the brain as the computer? so when your perception perceives the beach, it access the memories from your past experiences stored in your brain regarding the beach, and selects what it was functional and valuable back then to aid your present decision. For that reason, gives priority to your surfboard and swimming shorts and not your gi.  It is important to mention, that I used a clothing example for simplicity, but it works in the same manner regarding attitudes and behaviors.

     To be honest, walking into the mats for the first time can be very intimidating, even frightful. You see a bunch of sweaty guys rolling on the mat in various unorthodox ways, trying to choke the lights out of each other.  It can be quite an impression, especially if it’s your first encounter with the world of grappling.  

     So it is possible to become overwhelmed with all the stimulation, adding the nervousness of starting a martial art and meeting new people, plus our insecurities of not been good enough to learn something as complex and demanding as Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.  We tend to experience mix emotions, an inner battle between excitement and fear.

     The balance between the two depends in our state of mind.  There are two existent possibilities: the stimulation can be turn into potential energy, or it can become a hindrance in our ability to learn and perform.

     The majority of the time, we tend to shift towards fear, since fear is our most primal survival mechanism and it’s been there since our ancestors first walk the earth.  It is kind of our default or automatic reaction to the unknown. If we experience reality through fear, our perception fires up our neurons and access the memories, and past experiences where we felt in a similar way, and pulls up an ego or a set of attitudes and behaviors (persona) that made you feel safe in the past.

     Most of the cases, when we experience fear, or we feel intimidated, we tend to go back to our primal defense mechanisms and voila! We impersonate the macho alpha ego to hide our own insecurities. Unconsciously, we become the infamous ego that is not welcome in the mats, a hindrance to our own and partners learning process.

     I am not saying this is deliberately done, but it is an ingrained condition reaction. Similar to the reason why we stop when we see a red light or a stop sign.  The key is to recognize our behavioral patterns when we are becoming defensive and reinforce a positive one.  

     For example, if you feel intimidated and you begin to isolate yourself from your partners, recognize it, and instead, go and talk to them.  You will be surprise how a little bit of awareness can shift your perception of a situation.  So next time you walk into the mats don’t leave your ego at the door, but choose the appropriate one.

     Choose the personality of a student, of a pupil, choose an “open mind” rather than a close one, always be open to new concepts and ideas.  Let you persona embrace the qualities of a sponge, be always ready to absorb and retain what it is compatible to you.  Like a great martial artist once said, “Be like water my friend”.