Monday, April 29, 2013

Don't Take Good Health For Granted

It’s easier said than done, if you’re like me and have never had a long-term debilitating condition. But the truth is that unfortunate things happen, even to good people, and you can lose your health in a heartbeat. I was reminded of this today, when I encountered a friend of mine in the grocery store. He approached to greet me, and I noticed right away that he was talking slow out the side of his mouth, and then when he went to shake my hand it was difficult for him to coordinate his arm for even this simple movement. I was shocked. My first suspicion was that he’d been in a bad car wreck or something since I last met with him, maybe eight months ago. He’d obviously suffered a brain injury. But then he said it was a stroke, and that he’d had it three days after Christmas, and is expecting to make a full recovery. He’s now also been diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure, obviously indicative of a larger pattern. I felt bad for him. He’s right around my same age, recently married, and was pushed by his in-laws into buying a house in my neighborhood about a year ago. He definitely has some bills to pay, and now this. Moreover, his work is in retail sales of hunting and fishing equipment, which means he wasn’t making too much money to begin with, and I can’t imagine his unemployment insurance is worth a great deal either. He wants me to get together with him and go on some walks in the neighborhood. Who knows, maybe I can direct him toward the martial arts as therapy

In my days, I’ve witnessed the martial arts used as an unparalleled tool for psycho-physiological therapy, enabling patients/ clients to create links between their minds and muscle groups that the best doctors had claimed were impossible to ever achieve again. But this application of the martial arts requires a certain kind of guidance, and an understanding that the deadly ‘combatant’ you are most likely to face in your lifetime is not another human, but the corruption of your own body, through illness, injury, addiction, or what have you. When the fight is with some aspect of your self, in these or similar manners, to me that’s tapping into the deeper levels of martial arts, the stuff that relatively few people even recognize to exist. Most involved in FMK today are very fortunate. As one YouTube fan commented, we’re like a ‘deadly modeling company’ in how beautiful everyone is. I agree. Like I expressed after visiting the Chicago Kwoon in person, most of the people involved in FMK seem to glow with vitality. What I’m proposing is that this glow can actually be used to bring healing to others who have experienced misfortune in terms of facing extreme health conditions. We can teach them how to confront, equal, and even best their opponents, if we have the will and compassion to do so


  1. Healing in the Martial Arts? That's interesting. I know we can do it but how?

  2. Sorry to hear about your friend. Strokes are very scary.
    I really like how you stated that about the deadly 'combatant' being the corruption of your own body.
    I think that the movements and the breathing and mental focus involved in Martial Arts can promote the flow of healing
    energy throughout the body. I wasn't able to figure out before how the combative aspects could be used very much for
    healing, but I think you explained a lot through that brief description.
    My dad has had several strokes in his lifetime. I've suggested for awhile now that he try tai chi as a form of therapy.
    I've also reccommended tai chi to other family members with health conditions. I used it to recover from serious back pain
    and to also recover quicker after having each of my kids. Just that softer aspect of the Martial Arts can be amazing. It's
    neat to think about how the FMK training is much more whole and complete than that alone, since it incorporates the mind,
    body, spirit, and also includes the combative training.

    1. Wow... I believe you just answered my question very well Lian! The Martial Arts cannot be undervalued. If they knew how valuable it was, they would not make fun of it, nor they will use the combative aspect to hurt people for their personal gain.

  3. The possibilities for utilizing martial arts in both psychological and physical therapy are almost infinite. In fact, you could say that everyone involved in real martial arts is in some manner on this journey, that we're all just at different stages, and that it is continuous and never-ending. There are always new levels of health and ability to attain, and we are constantly faced with new challenges as our bodies age or become exposed to different experiences, not always of our own choosing. As Lian points out, our work with breath is a good example of martial arts therapy, in that it's crucial for healthy energy flow. In that regard, I think we should be mindful that what we're doing with breath is also, in large part, an aspect of nutrition. In this case, we are consuming the oxygen that enables cellular respiration, the actual physical unlocking of energy as various molecules metabolize. Our breath is one of many keys to enhancing our ability to release energy, and it's intimately linked with our circulatory system, not only of the blood, but of water in general, as each exhalation releases vapour along with carbon dioxide, the latter connecting us in a tight bond with plants. My sense is that the art of beneficial breathing should include also the proximity of plants, which thrive off our exhalations, and in turn produce more of the oxygen we need. It comes as no surprise that kung fu, in its country of origin, is traditionally practiced outside, and in particular amidst trees.

    So there is so much to this topic. That's just breath, one aspect of our nutrition. There is also all of the neural-muscular training we do, which has massive therapeutic potential. Something as simple as training the spine to be properly aligned can completely change someone's health. Flexibility, core balance, various alignments, full articulation of the joints, muscular strength, all of these are aspects of our training, and all of them can be used also to help people with serious physical ailments and/or diseases. Martial arts, if taken seriously, can be a form of medicine that actually leads to recovery, rather than unhealthy dependencies and addictions so often resulting from mainstream medical regimes. I am confident that if someone like my friend with the stroke were to use martial arts as a primary tool for their therapy, that it would be very effective. In fact, I've seen it many times, because there is a karate sensei here where I live that uses goju ryu and tomarite training specifically for this, effectively treating clients who suffer from a host of auto-immune disorders, neurological injuries, etc.

    And this is one way, I think, we can exercise artistic expression... we can look at ourselves, our overall health, and diagnose and treat the issues that we recognize. Our own bodies are the lab where we learn how to effectively use our martial arts medicinally. We are our own practicum. Through our own self-healing we can learn what works, and what doesn't, and then be in a far better position to assist others and give them the benefit of our experiences

  4. Great post! Thank you very much for sharing.

  5. Breathing and meditation, I have to use these on a daily basis to control my PAC that was a result of Thymoma. To say it simply, the bottom half of my heart will start to beat out of rhythm with the top half. Rather uncomfortable, and during these periods the chance of heart attack are much higher. At first panic would start to set it and that would make it much worse, the natural release of hormones in the body was not helping. I learned very quickly to start to focus and breath, rather then spend 20-30 minutes waiting for my heart to get it right I have been able to cut it down to around 5 minutes now. This type of approach really suprised most the doctors I have to see, the only one who really understood it was the doctor from india. She told me if she knew I was into meditation and martial arts that she would have suggested it from the start. She wont mention it to her patients because most of them refuse to accept any form of therapy or medicine that is not in line with western culture. All in all I make sure to spend some time every day practicing meditation and breathing regardless of whether or not the PAC is acting up, it helps me stay focused the rest of the day.


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