Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu Dojo, Victoria BC Canada

4. Move it Or Lose it

Move it or lose it is a useful adage for long-term martial artists. We must practice the basics of the art, and we must practice dynamic movement. Dynamic movement for our purposes means series of tactical movements, like kata, that weave together our everyday routine movements with our taijutsu (or martial movements). Dynamic movement is what allows us to get out of a work chair by striking, to apply joint manipulations on public transit, or dive-roll out of the path of traffic.

Move it or lose it applies also to the tactical concepts of taijutsu, specifically to the use of space. You either move the space (by manipulating or entering the kukan) or you lose the space (when your opponent moves you through the space instead). Altercations are rapid exchanges of control and space. Tales of duels ended with sleek, simple and minimal movement are tales of victory achieved by minimal struggle over control and space. Dynamic movement is what allows the techniques of a martial art to succeed when applied outside of the dojo.

Developing dynamic movement requires a will to explore, challenge and refine how you move. Basic maintenance of dynamic movement requires daily and / or weekly practice of three aims:

  1. Stretch
  2. Focus Breath
  3. Be Physical

If you’re wondering what to stretch, or which focused breath practice is right, or what level of physical to be – go with what feels good for you. Ask your instructors and other students. Figure out what you most want to improve and include relevant movements in your personal practice. The point is for you to explore your body and your taijutsu in places other than class.

Practice the kata at least 3x/side each day. Vary the style in which you apply the kata. Use linear, circular, and angular movements to generate force and shape the kukan.

Practice the kata to strengthen your body, refine your movement, and to focus your breath; practice also to shape responses in your opponent’s body and to move your opponent through various vacancies of space. How does the style of your reception shape the tactical space, and what happens when your reception does not shape your opponent for the kata’s strikes?

How would you roll across the room you’re in? How many times would you roll to reach the opposite wall, or the exit? What shapes (flat, fat, long, tall) would your rolls take? Can you prepare a meal while standing in hicho? Repeated investigation of these questions will begin to improve your dynamic movement.

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