Lost in Space

Spatial awareness is an interesting concept to me. I am often amazed at the complete lack of awareness people have of their own bodies, their inability to coordinate limbs or hand-eye requirements, and how they move about in their environment. Another point of interest I have in people is poor time management associated with their daily schedule. 

In Chinese Medicine there are constitutional body types that have trouble with spatial and time awareness. One type trips over and bumps into things. They always seem to hit the door jamb, knock into the corner of the furniture, or be stubbing their toes. Their energetic boundaries are not strong.

When training martial and movement arts you can easily spot these types. Their body coordination doesn’t come easily. Accurate movements or striking take longer to achieve than their peers.

To improve these traits taking up more than one of the arts we practice at the MCKFA and FitLife Martial Arts certainly helps. Training in energy based arts helps you to get in tune with your body and makes you sensitive to other people’s energy. Maybe even sensitive to the energy of the structures around you (door jambs, stairs, tow balls, etc).

Regular physical training and mental exploration will enable this. But don’t get stuck on only one form of training, like Kung Fu. Or just Qigong. We need to explore multiple energetic disciplines and various ways to move our body and use our mind to achieve high levels of energetic sensitivity and full mobility. For example, I currently learn and practice Tong Long Kung Fu, three styles of Tai Chi, Xing Yi Quan, Stretch Therapy and Monkey Gym techniques, Qigong, and Meditation. “Cross training” in this way definitely grounds me in my body, emphasises the mind-body connection, develops rhythm and reflexes, and allows me to move well, in and around my environment. This variety also minimises the chances of injury when training one thing all of the time, as well as surviving accidents that might occur.

For those that are less interested or connected to this idea of energetic training and more to the idea of physical movement in general then think about this. There are 4 levels of physical activity/training. 

  1. General Physical Preparedness
  2. Specific Physical Preparedness
  3. High Level Competition
  4. Elite Performance.
  5. Steve Maxwell says the general population is predominantly in the first level and these should be our training goals. 
    1. Breathing
    2. Crawling
    3. Walking
    4. Running
    5. Jumping
    6. Balancing
    7. Climbing/Falling correctly
    8. Defence
    9. Swimming
    10. Throwing
    11. Lifting/Carrying/Dragging
  6. These eleven elements are what we were designed for and should make up part of our weekly training/movement regime. 

Divo Mueller, a specialist in facial fitness also suggests we “nourish our body with a range of stimulation.” These are good habits for health and longevity, free and easy movement into old age, and sound spatial awareness.

Another type often has issues with time. They find it hard to be on time, they easily lose track of time, and they can appear vague and not with it at times.

Grandmaster Sue says their are three types of people. “Those that don’t know anything happened, those that think what just happened, and those that make things happen.” A martial arts practitioner wants to be in the latter group. We want to be switched on, alert, and punctual (most of the time).

Punctuality is something that can be used to your advantage. Be early, get practising, earn and capture your instructors/Sifu’s attention and input. Be early and gain the upper hand. Miyamoto Mushasi, one ofJapan’s greatest Samurai, would arrive early for battle, choosing the high ground and placing the sun at his back. On the flip side he would arrive hours late, upsetting his opponent’s emotional stability.

One of the most useful things I learned in my years as a chef was the 6P system. (Prior Preparation Prevents Pretty Poor Performance). This rule can be applied everywhere in life – career, sports, learning, relationships, cooking, artistic endeavours, combat and warfare, etc. I can tell you where I will be and what I will be doing tomorrow, in a week, in three months, in twelve months. Just like martial techniques can be trained to be apart of you, so too can punctuality. Make preparations to be on time for your commitments. Pay attention, use open awareness, expand your Qi and knowing where and when you are in your environment will become second nature.