Wham. Bham. Take some more punishment. Condition harder, sweat it out. Now to prepare for that one (a handful at most) encounter/s, most ardent practitioners put their bodies and minds through a lot of abuse. It is almost a cliche to hear of martial artists’ with bad knees, hurt backs, jammed joints etc.

Martial training usually has one focus - survival. This means doing maximum damage on your opponent while sustaining minimum impact on oneself.

If you really think about this - you are most likely to do more damage to yourself in the process of learning how to defend yourself against something that may or may not happen. This means something is not right in the equation

Now I am not arguing that we give up our Martial Training, all I am suggesting that we enhance our training methods. If we look at the training to “defend and do damage on the opponent” as a very yang expression, then we need a way to balance this out.

We need a counter balance on the potential damage with guaranteed 

benefit to the body. Now most will state this is obvious, however it is the elusive obvious.. meaning it is usually quite out of grasp. Most of us (present company included) believe we take good care of our bodies - we work on flexibility, strength etc. Now this is at best a ordinary start. 

I got thinking about this doing a lot of hard arts and even Aikijujutsu. The impact of hits, the joint jamming locks, the slam of throws… even during training builds stress into the system. And as stress builds it weakens the body’s ability to heal and adapt.

To heal and adapt effectively what I am discovering are essential qualities include but is not limited to:

RELAX fully, SOFTEN (as opposed to only tightening in pursuit of physical power)

FEEL the body fully (as opposed to numbing the body from feeling pain, thereby losing awareness of the body)

Bring awareness and build control over the INTERNAL movements within the body (the flow of air and bodily fluids)

SLOW down your practice to remove kinks in the movement, thereby brining FLUIDITY 

Develop an INVISBLE power to heal, move and when needed explode into your obstacles

THREADING the Body to move as One unit

Employing only 70% OF CAPABILITY and expanding that over time

This is a daily discipline and I would argue is more important a practice than outer physical conditioning. This realm of training is not new - this has been the realm of advanced practitioners the world over regardless of art/system.Infact you cannot tell where one system ends and another begins - because ultimately its about human motion and development - which is all one.

Integrate this internal practice along with the external training you do, you will thank yourself in the decades to come. The internal training when done right will integrate and inform your external arts beautifully. I will be starting integrating this more into my teaching program at the Mountain View Aiki Kai dojos’formally. And while I playfully dub this within the dojo as Aiki Energetics - understand this is not new, and it has stood the test of time. 

Convince yourself by doing your research, or more importantly finding a good teacher to introduce you to the greatest mystery you will run into - the outermost reaches of your own inner space. And in the process heal yourself inside out, and juice up your external training.Not doing so is akin to going to war on yourself!

Mahipal Lunia, Sensei