Use the force, dude

I don’t consider myself to being a zen kind of a dude. Not by a long shot. I’ve always though that I’m just one of the guys that go to the gym and train. That’s it. But sometimes I get into conversations where I feel like the zen grand daddy of them all. One subject in such conversations is, well, force. This might turn into rambling so I do apologize before hand.

Use your senses.

How many senses do you have? Humans have at least 5 traditional senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch. Of these we use our sight the most. As predators we our eyes face forward and we rely heavily on what we see. We’ve come to rely on our eyes for pretty much everything. What sense are you using right now as you read this? A lot of us spend our days in front of the computer. A perfect eye sight helps us in a the world we have built.

Taste is another sense we use quite a lot. We eat some many different kinds of foods, drink different kinds of beverages and in general tasting things is pleasure to us. Using our taste kind of serves us.

But what about the other senses? Are you using them? Are you really using your hearing? Really? Can you do echolocation?

What kind of sorcery is this?

The last time a got into a conversation about the subject of force was when I free rolled with one of our blue belts. We were talking about pressure and somehow that turned into talking about using force.  Force is something we as grapplers can really benefit from. I’m not talking brute strength here nor what your body is capable of. I’m talking about using your sense of force.

As we talked I asked the blue belt to stand up, grab my gi sleeve and close his eyes. I wanted him to tell me what I was doing. First I did the starting moves of a technical stand up and he got it right. Then I went for his leg with my leg and he got that one right as well. And I wasn’t doing big drastic moves, but I was trying to them as nice and easy as possible. Still my body gave out signals he could interpret. Then his mind combined those signals with his knowledge of grappling and gave him the answers to what I was doing. After he opened his eyes he actually said “What kind of sorcery is this?”.

Feel the force, man.

It’s not sorcery. Our bodies and minds can detect more than we usually notice. We rely on our eyes to give us information and it overpowers the rest of our sensory capacities. We all can feel where force is going and where it’s coming from. And that is knowledge that a grappler can use.

I first ran into contact with these ideas when I practiced Wing Tsun. There’s a thing they do called Chi Sao which trains you to find the shortest path past your opponents strikes to deliver your own. Here’s what it looks like:

The idea is to learn to feel where your opponents power is going and using that information to direct it away from you and going forward around it. And that’s why learning to feel the force and use it is beneficial to grapplers. Once you learn to identify where the strength is coming and where it’s going you also learn to sense where it’s not going. And that is where you will find your opponents weak spot and the opening for your attack.

Use the force, dude

So why should you learn it? For once it will save you strength because you’re not going to be fighting against power but you will be working around it. Nothing is stupider than head butting which of you has the bigger bicep when you could just let the guy show you his strength and then waltz right past it and leave him wondering how the hell did you do that.

It can help you see “in the dark”. Well, not really, but you can find safe passage in places your eyes can’t see. Ever played Jenga? It’s a game where you really can’t trust your eyes because all the sticks seem to be on even footing. But try them with your fingers and you’ll notice which ones give in and which ones won’t budge. Try wrestling with your eyes closed. Then you will see, pun intended, how much your eyes lead you astray.

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