Two Types of Movement: Predator and Unstoppable

There are lots of different ways of moving.  What I'm provisionally calling "pure internal movement" is predicated on making clear distinctions between different types of movement.  Without those distinctions there is no way to define either "pure" or "internal."  

Here are two distinct types of movement which have the potential to profoundly improve the way people move.

1) Predator movement is always "on" your opponent.  I mean really on them, before, during, and after contact.  Make them double-weighted, make them carry you.  Make your mind like a dark cloud surrounding your opponent's body, shooting lightning bolts into his openings.  As a predator, your opponent should smell like food, or like that first cup of coffee in the morning.  And also imagine you are leaving your scent all over your opponent. Needless to say, predator movement uses all the senses.

Predator movement can not be pre-set, it must be improvised.  It must be immediately and continuously responsive.  Predator movement can be used to control, but it is leading and initiating the action, not resisting it.  In other words, using predator movement, I can move someone around in space, where ever I want them to go, but the patterns I make in space cannot be pre-set in anyway.  

2) Unstoppable movement is "on" me.  It uses pre-set movement patterns with resistance. When performing unstoppable movement, I do not modify the external appearance of my form or routine.  Resistance must be offered by a partner, that resistance cannot be pre-set, in must be spontaneous. 

When performing unstoppable movement, I can be doing a form, but if my partner disconnects I will not follow him.  My partner is responsible for providing spontaneous resistance against the set patterns of my movement.  In this situation my partner could just disconnect and then poke me in the eye.  It isn't a fighting mode.  It is a way to purify the quality of one's movement.  It is a testing ground.  

With unstoppable movement, my movement pattern is visibly predictable, my partner's is not.  I don't control my partner's body in space.  I am spontaneously adapting to whatever resistance she offers.  That is why it is "pure" internal; on the outside I am just doing a form, but on the inside I am creative and dynamic.  

With unstoppable movement I can not move my partner wherever I want.  I can only follow my own pre-set pattern.  


Both of these types of movement are key.  Unfortunately, many martial artists attempt to do both types of movement at the same time.  This causes both to fail.

There are actually three possibilities, 1) follow and evade, 2) follow and evade while offering resistance, 3) lead by improvising.*  

Fixed patterns of movement don't produce set responses. There is no positive value in training them that way. 

There are ways of moving, two-person forms, for instance, in which both people are doing, linked, pre-set movement.  I like this type of practice, but it is important to understand why it fails. Don't try to do both predator and unstoppable movement at the same time--that will produce negative results; instead, change between the different types of movement, or practice in one of the two "pure" modes. 


Spontaneously communicating ideas, like talking to a friend in a cafe, is like predator movement, it is the perfection of mind/shen.  When we communicate spontaneously we can adjust, repeat, reframe needed.

Writing a book, is like unstoppable movement, it is the the perfection of form/jing.  The reader offers criticism, resistance, analysis, questions, and responses.  If the book is well written, all this thoughtful engagement makes the book more effective...but the words are pre-set.


*Footnote from above, for my friends in the theater [In the Keith Johnstone's improvisational theater 1) is called "accept all offers", 2) is called "accept and block," 3) is called "making blind offers."]

Top Predators Practice Internal Martial Arts

nuwafuxi01I’ve been working with the “ball” material I wrote about in the last post and I’ve decided that there is an other way to explain it.

The top predators I’m likely to see in San Francisco on any given day are falcons, hawks, cats, and raccoons.  Occasionally I see a coyote or a heron too.

All of these predators are able to fluff up their bodies.  We tend to think of these moments of fluffing up as autonomic responses to fear because they parallel the goose bumps we get when we are watching a horror movie.  We also learn in school that some animals fluff up so that they will look really big to an attacker or a competitor,  and that has a parallel in the expression “I feel pumped up” which athletes sometimes use.
But of course we don’t know for sure why these predators fluff up and we definitely don’t know whether or not they consciously control it.

Nuwa&fuxiI used the term autonomic above.  The nervous system is divided into two types of nerves, the ones that control obviously voluntary actions (yes that would include ear wiggling even if you aren’t very good at it yet); and nerves that control much less voluntary things like pupil size and heart rate.  The less voluntary system is called the autonomic nervous system and it is also divided into two parts. One part that is active when you take a deep relaxing breath while sitting in a hot tub, and another part that is active when you hold your breath, tense up your muscles, pull back your lips and grit your teeth.  The relaxing nervous system is called para-sympathetic, the stressed out nervous system is called sympathetic.  (I know the names are ridiculous, they refer to anatomy you only see when you are doing a dissections.)

The ball practice that I wrote about yesterday is the practice of making your whole body fluff up and its opposite, shrink-condense.  This happens at the most outer layer of the physical body, between the muscles and the hair follicles.

In this practice it is key that you keep your breathing relaxed, that you do not activate the stressed out nervous system even a little bit.  Through this practice you will eventually be able to do more than just fluff up and shrink-condense.  You will be able to spontaneously change the entire surface of your body in any way you want.

I suspect that the top predators are able to do this without becoming stressed out, while prey, like bunny rabbits, only do it when they are stressed out.

This kind of practice has lots of health benefits but the fighters out there may be thinking, “How could I possibly fight using such a subtle mechanism?”  The answer is that the practice trains your body to not get stuck, to keep changing even in a situation of stress.  It will increase your power too, because there will be less inhibition in your body.

And of course when the predator ball becomes second nature, you don’t think about it, it just becomes part of everything you do.

The following Hagiography is from To Live As Long As Heaven and Earth:

"During the reign of Emperor Cheng of the Han, hunters in the Zhongnan Mountains saw a person who wore no clothes, his body covered with black hair. Upon seeing this person, the hunters wanted to pursue and capture him, but the person leapt over gullies and valleys as if in flight, and so could not be overtaken. [But after being surrounded and captured, it was discovered this person was a 200 plus year old woman, who had once been a concubine of Qin Emperor Ziying. When he had surrendered to the 'invaders of the east', she fled into the mountains where she learned to subside on 'the resin and nuts of pines' from an old man. Afterwards, this diet 'enabled [her] to feel neither hunger nor thirst; in winter [she] was not cold, in summer [she] was not hot.']
The hunters took the woman back in. They offered her grain to eat. When she first smelled the stink of grain, she vomited, and only after several days could she tolerate it. After little more than two years of this [diet], her body hair fell out; she turned old and died. Had she not been caught by men, she would have become an [immortal]." (Campany 2002:22–23)

"The earliest representations of Chinese immortals, xian (?), dating from the Han Dynasty, portray them flying with feathery wings (the word yuren ?? "feathered person" later meant "Daoist") or riding dragons."

[Thanks Wikipedia, for saving me from having to type these two quotes in myself!]