Intention Informs Action
When I first started martial arts in my early teens, I remember the instructor telling us to “land light” from the jumps*. Later on, another instructor used to make us jump on some soft matting, and if our feet made too much of an impression on landing, we had to do extra press-ups**
What I came to understand is that the thought behind the movement actually changes the way the muscles move – its no good just hoping for the best…
The most obvious example of this that I see on a day to day level with my clients is during the press-up (or Chatturanga if we’re doing yoga).
Most people struggle with this movement if they’ve never done it before, because, frankly, it’s hard work heaving your whole body weight off the floor just using your arms…
Now, let us pause for a minute, and imagine we have a huge and heavy piece of furniture in front of us that we have to push across the room. What do we do? We brace ourselves against it, tense our stomach muscles and the hips and legs, and push, using the whole body. Back to the press up…..
Instead of trying to heave your body up, you “push the floor away hard” exactly as you would when heaving heavy furniture about. This engages all the muscles wholly differently, and spreads the force of the push (if you’re braced properly) through the back, hips and shoulders/chest.***
My clients have been amazed by this tiny change in their PERCEPTION of the movement having such an effect on the PROCESS of the movement.
Try this out and let me know how you get on!
* I also remember thinking, “listen, mate, if I manage to land without breaking anything, I’m doing well, thanks!”
** extra press-ups are a feature of most martial arts dojos and gyms….
*** you can also tweak the muscles a bit by doing tricep press, diamond press, etc, but the bracing motion is still the same