Went dancing with the wife last night (side note: heavy deadlifts, while great for many things, do not help your dancing. At least, not if you do them on the same day.). Fun, as always. And, as always, gets me thinking.
Warning. This is not likely to be particularly coherent. I’m trying to put thoughts on paper here, not write something articulate.
The world is full of systems for teaching humans how to move, in relation to various contexts. Weightlifting is about how to move so you can pick up heavy objects. Dancing is about how to move another body in an aesthetically pleasing and harmonious fashion. Fighting is about moving another body in a way that makes that body break. Etc. Sometimes these systems get tied into spiritual experience, like yoga. Sometimes, the practitioners of the system invest a spiritual experience into a system, regardless of whether there ever was one present to begin with.
People find spiritual or enlightening experiences through fighting, dancing, weightlifting, running, etc. The system seems to be irrelevant. You can imbue anything with a spiritual purpose, if you wish. You can discard a spiritual purpose just as easily (how many people in the U.S. do yoga every day with no thought or concern about the meditative aspects of those systems?).
Regardless of the system, there are certain basic principles about how the human body works that remain constant. When a woman makes a turn in dancing, she positions her hands in a certain way to protect her shoulder; if you put the hand where you don’t want it, you have an armlock. Show someone that, and you have a style. Do it enough times, and you have an art. Codify, you have a system. If your system survives, it’s a tradition.
There is a mind-body that gets tapped into in all physical activity. It can run both ways. Tony says “how you think affects how you feel, how you think and feel affects the things you do.” I might add “the things you do affect how you think and feel.” It’s a circle.
I have had students tell me how training with me has had positive benefits in other areas of their lives. Occasionally, there’s a clear correlation (i.e., I’m not afraid to go out because I feel I can protect myself). Other times, the correlation is less clear. What does punching pads or people have to do with performing better at work? Could that have just as easily been accomplished by learning to deadlift two, three, or four hundred pounds?
The destination matters more than the vehicle.
It seems like there should be a way, a method, to tie these things together. To explore human movement and the principles that make it work, in a variety of contexts. To use that exploration to fuel psychological, emotional, or spiritual growth. (The spiritual thing makes me uncomfortable, but it is there. Sometimes.)
If the destination is what really matters, why do we start with the vehicle?
No good answers. Just scratchin’.