Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Muscles Have Memories

Based on the title of this post and the subject of a lot of my recent posts you may think this will be a rambling reminiscence of some point in my past where I fondly recount a memory about my favorite muscle. Well, you'd be wrong. (That's tomorrow's post.)

As you may know, I have an interest in martial arts. I'm currently taking karate classes with my family. Until recently, I was taking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes. I've attended some seminars recently on American Kenpo and have had a little bit of training there as well. In addition, many years ago I was into Okinawan Goju Ryu. As part of the Goju Ryu we learned some weapons including a little bit of Arnis (sticks). There was an excellent instructor who had a lot of real life, practical experience and related training and taught us some great stuff!

Well, recently I attended an excellent seminar on Kali (stick fighting very similar to Arnis or Escrima). As part of the seminar we did some knife defense. And let me tell you, even after almost 20 years, my muscle memory was still there. Back in my Goju Ryu days we had spent some time doing drills against a knife attack. It was a lot of repetition - moving to avoid the knife, deflect it and get out of the way mainly. But as soon as we began working on this the other day in the class, I automatically moved the way we were taught years ago. I may not have remembered all the details, but my muscles did.

I ran into the same thing at a Kenpo seminar I went to in October where we did a little bit of defense against a stick. When the stick came down, my body instinctively moved the way I had been taught 20 years ago.

Granted, it wasn't the smooth, powerful, movements of a master or anything. Rather, it was shaky, what-am-I-doing, is-this-right, sort of movements, but the basics were there. The underlying instinctive movement that didn't require concentration (which allowed me to concentrate instead on other things, like - does my hair look OK? and What is that in that man's teeth?)

Muscles are amazing! And somewhat scary. I mean, my muscles have better memory than I do! I hope they don't remember the times I've abused them in the past! Now if only I could get them to remember all the katas I've forgotten from my Goju Ryu days. I would love to be able to do those again! And maybe, if I ask nicely, they can help me with my crossword puzzle.

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