When talking about martial arts exercises, most of you will think about “warming up or cooling down”. In fact in traditional martial arts, those exercises don’t exist. Warming up and cooling down are the result of Western influence in martial arts as a sport activity. This impact started when Japan became more open to Western way of life. In 1913, the Ministry of Education issued the Syllabus of School Gymnastics (Gakkō taisō kyōju yōmoku), inspired by the Swedish gymnastics of Ling and supplemented by military drills inspired by Prussian or English examples.
A very popular method of exercises, based upon Western ideas is: “Rajio Taisou” (ラジオ体操). It was introduced to Japan in 1928 and used to improve the health of Japanese soldiers from 1930 to 1940. Even now, some Japanese people still do this exercise in the morning to maintain their health.
Of course there is the concept of “Tanren”, forging body and mind as a preparation for combat. The purpose of this forging is to create a martial arts body. You may notice or not the differences between the actual fighting methods and the “martial arts exercises”, in reality those exercises will give support to the combat applications. Outsiders will not recognize those exercises as a “real and effective” martial art skill.
Modern Eastern Martial Arts are using Western ideas about physical education. This is of course not bad if you consider those martial arts as a sport activity. On the other hand some teachers are using more traditional ways of forging the mind and body. Their view of a martial art is moving beyond a sport activity. The concept of combat is more than fighting against a tangible enemy.
Taming the “Monkey Brain”
We all experienced the noise in our head when the monkey brain is talking during our exercises. Stopping thie noise is not a solution, because the monkey brain is not listening. Better is to ignore the noise, and after a while you will notice “the noice is gone”. You really start to feel the exercise and the dynamics of the body. This is forging the body and mind. It is not about bigger muscles, or more muscular strength. I can feel my body and its movements…..the rest is a side issue