Martial Musings: Geometry of Motion (The Great Secret)


If you had to describe the "shape" or "geometry" of your fighting...

....what shape would you think it is?

Last week I was working with two MA practitioners: a Tai Chi adept of 25+ years and a Muay Thai practitioner of 10+ years. Both have very different styles and different approaches to combat, which makes a for the perfect laboratory to sharpen skills.

While teaching them a combat framework, I introduced the concept of "FIghting Shapes" or "Geometry of Motion."

Body motions break down into a handful of shapes, a specific geometry. One may think about them in broad terms:

1. Squares (which hold within them perfect triangles and the letter H)

2. Circles

3. Ovals (the circle elongates, and an isosceles triangle lies within it, giving birth to perfect

4. Spirals

Each one of these shapes comes with a specific series of motions and possibilities.

Bu t they also shut down others.

With me so far? OK.

Over time, martial art styles naturally specialize in a specific geometry. This geometry eventually fathers a whole set of movements within the style/system.

So, let's play a small mental game.

Take 10 seconds to look all around you to note everything that is green. You want to count as many green objects as possible.

Ready? Go.

10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0.

Don't cheat! Make sure you do this little thought experiment before you proceed.


Now, close your eyes, and try to remember the things you saw around you that were red.

Yes. Red.

The results tend to shock people. Most cannot recall even a handful of red items. This is because over time (even in those 10 seconds), you've trained your consciousness to "look for green." The mind is cybernetic (goal seeking) and predictive (not reactive as many think it is).

So what does this color test have to do with the geometry of fighting?

MA practitioners become familiar within the lines of geometry hard-coded within their system of training and become blind to the others.

This could spell D-E-A-T-H.

In order to move from possible DEATH to possible LIFE, master the lines. Learn to mix them up, to create options for yourself and to mess up your opponent.

I've often demonstrated to my students how changing the lines, messes up the opponent. With the muay thai fighter recently, I went circular - only to see his linear self... stop moving for a bit. With the Tai Chi practitioner, I went oval, and his circular eyes started twitching and he began to hesitate. Those vital seconds that can decide life and death. In such demonstrations, I have had students unconsciously walk straight into a waiting punch. They just don't see it, even when I have explained it to them. They don't see the red. Yes, it is that powerful.

Try. It. Play. With. It.

Mak e your body remember and learn the rules.

Beat the squares and triangles with your circles.

Cut through the circles with sharp ovals.

Overcome the penetration of ovals with spirals.

Cut the spirals with the squares/triangles.

This rabbit hole continues. The preferred geometry then starts even dictating weapon choice. Think of all the discussions on knife design and choice - they all cut differently. This has to do with geometry the practitioner likes. Conversely learning a new weapon teaches new motion, new geometry.

Want to make it even more powerful, go deeper down the rabbit hole? The shapes/movements have/emit specific sounds. See how the sounds you create assist and hinder specific geometry - not only in yourself, but in your opponent. Note the triggers and watch your world expand...(if this interests you, look up Cymatics to begin)

...but more on that later.

But in the meantime, my question for you is this : what's your "fighting shape?" Is your training skewed towards one or two geometries? How do you plan to strengthen your fluency in the geometry of motion?

Train to bring in all the geometry in. Remember the way you train is the way you will react.

Best Regards

Mahipal Lunia, Sensei