Should the Swimmer Consider Martial Arts??

The focus and intention in Michael Phelp’s eyes the other evening was the most intensity ever seen on a swimmer’s face. Maybe he should consider a martial art?? He obviously has the determination and willpower, not to mention the strength. And the fury in his face would certainly empower a mean fighter. Who knows? Maybe 2020 will see him in the debut of the karate competition?!

Pushing Through

“You know in life, there’s going to be things harder for you to do than other things? And you know those things that may appear to be hard to do you’re going to have to do as a man, regardless? I don’t know if you’re facing fear, or feeling that you may not make it. And we all fact that from time to time. As soon as we hit resistance, we want to stop, right? Because it’s hurting, we feel that pain and be like, “I’m not going through this no more” right? But we have to fight through it as men, because it’s going to be very painful.”

There’s so much more in the words of the instructor. Listen to the whole text. If only every student, black or white, had a mentor to teach respect, faith, and perseverance like this.

Marco Polo – A Martial Arts Review

When the second season of Netflix’s Marco Polo’s dropped last week, I took the liberty (happy 4th!) to spend a significant chunk of my long weekend doing a little binge-watching. So, if you skipped that one in favor of fireworks but are in the market for some more action stuff while you wait for more superheroes or brooding would-be monarchs in a battle for a pointy chair, and were waiting for a second opinion, read on.

Martial arts in TV is easy to do wrong, and hard to do right. An hour and twenty minutes makes a good martial arts film, but a ten-episode season of flying fists and little else loses its charm at some point along the way if there’s no other connective tissue. Fortunately, Marco Polo doesn’t suffer from that at all. In fact, if anything, the action sequences were a little sparser in this season in favor of exploring some of the politics of Mongol life as well as getting to know the characters more intimately. The production values and quality acting are all still there, as well as a healthy dose of action, but there was unquestionably more to it than just the marvelously-choreographed kung-fu.

Of course, the martial arts have to take somewhat of a front-row seat in Polo to make up for what it lacks in other areas. When we watch Game of Thrones, half the fun is wondering what shape everyone’s political schemes will take as they unfold, but with Marco Polo, we’re simply shown the discussions and negotiations and schemes—still fun to watch them unfold, but it lacks the same level of drama. That said, with notable exceptions in certain Miguel Sapochnik-directed penultimate episodes, Thrones doesn’t even come close to the level of tension created in Polo’s action sequences.

Marco Polo is increasingly veering away from the historical and further into historical fiction, (which is a good thing, because if you’re a history buff you don’t necessarily already know how it ends), but it seems that if there’s one constant we can continue to expect in the next season, it’s some of the best-designed martial arts sequences on TV.

Martial Arts for Confidence

Gaining physical strength and the ability to defend yourself are great reasons to begin a martial art and to stick with it, but the larger and farther-reaching benefit of committing to a martial art is the ability to gain and retain self-confidence. Early childhood is a great time to begin a martial art, but even adults can benefit from the discipline and commitment. Continue reading Martial Arts for Confidence

Kyudo

Archery might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of martial arts, but it definitely qualifies in the strictest terms. There are a lot of interesting bits of crossover between this art and the feet-and-fists styles of martial arts that are perhaps more iconic. For starters, let’s take a look at the styles of archery that originated in the same territories as karate, taekwondo, aikido, and so many others: Japan.

Japanese archery, or kyudo, is actually one of the oldest Japanese martial arts, and so it has its roots in a lot of the same philosophical and religious principals that the others do. One of the earliest texts about the style in a European language, Zen in the Art of Archery, by Eugen Herrigel follow’s the author’s pursuit of the style through a Zen Buddhist lens. A difference of note between kyudo and western styles of archery is that Herrigel didn’t even shoot at a target for the first couple years of his training; his first steps were in breath control, and learning to shoot almost meditatively.

Now, fellow martial artists, odds are, if you’re interested in archery and you’re not actually in Japan, you probably won’t find yourself shooting a Japanese yumi, which is a kind of bow that requires the kind of extensive training that Herrigel pursued. You’ll likely pick up either a recurve or a compound bow, depending on your personal preference, whether you’re more traditional or technical. You’ll also probably be hitting a target within minutes of your first steps into a range. However, despite the major differences in style, there is a lot to be learned from kyudo because so much of a successful shot in any style depends on calm nerves, measured breathing, and a steady hand.

As you pick up a bow, try and think of your practice in the philosophical terms in which you might have come to think of other martial arts. Think meditation, relaxation, and a little inner peace, and you might be surprised what that does to your shooting.