Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Martial Arts & Body Confidence

"Get thee to a nunnery!!"

I yelled this after having read an article on a martial arts website.

Lately I've been researching a lot of throws, strikes, and holds in martial art forms.  I've learned more about martial arts in the last week than I ever expected I would know in my life.

You see, I was not an athletic kid.  In fact, I was the anti-athlete.  I remember in kindergarten we were given basketballs and rather than throwing them or trying to shoot, I sat on one with my friend while the world went by around us.  Later in elementary school, I distinctly remember the utter surprise when it was discovered that I could goalie floor hockey and went, for two weeks, to being picked first in gym class, from having been last or second to last.  I even went so far in high school to play 'air sports' where a group of thespians and I, convinced a substitute we could act out the moves of the sports for an entire period.  This was to avoid playing actual volleyball which I found to be humiliating.

It should come as no surprise then, that I have never done any martial art.  I never wanted to.  Having it drilled into my head that I was bad at athletics from a young age was enough to keep me away from any physical classes.  The idea of someone seeing me looking completely retarded despite good instruction is absolutely abhorrent.

Now that I'm older, I realize I'm actually not entirely uncoordinated (I can dance extremely well for someone who has had very little direction).  I just never practiced any sports.  So I find solace in things like hiking, paddling, badminton, and cross-country skiing.Of course now that I've been doing interval training regularly and consistently lift weights, I am a lot more confident in my body than I was when I was 9 or 10 or even 21.

This leads me back to Shaolin Kung Fu. Shaolin is a school of Kung Fu, in which there are many styles which can be traced to specific temples and masters. No matter what the style, they are all based on a specific philosophy and set of teachings.  Similar to Zen in some ways, there were monks (who could be male or female) but you didn't have to be celibate or practice asceticism.  I could be a Shaolin nun and not specifically give up things - all I would need to do would be to live simply.  Reading that was enough for me to want to practice Shaolin, despite the fact that I would have to spar eventually.

Another martial art I find interesting is much more about defense - that is traditional Tai Chi Chuan.  While there have been some modern forms that are strictly for health or demonstration, Tai Chi is Chuan was a complete martial art form with strikes and weapon work, just like many other forms.

Of course, the dork in me has a thing for the form Aang from Avatar used, which is Baguazhang.  This form is relatively new and has some of the most graceful throws I've seen demonstrated.

I can't really investigate this further until I'm settled with steady income. But it's a nice idea.  I'm definitely interested in pursuing this and at least trying out the world of martial arts instruction.  All this came from my book's main female character needing to be able to put the moves on bad guys.  Who knew?

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