Yin Yang discussion is common in the martial world. In this writing I will take a common idea in the arts and look at it from a different point of view. Rather than writing about the interchange of yin yang in the body during movement (close and open). Or the cyclic nature of all martial movements through many phases of yin yang. I will concentrate on the cyclic interchange throughout my experiences of training.
Once we have begun our martial training, we soon realize how clumsy, out of shape, unaware, and unbalanced we are. This realization accounts for likely fifty percent of student’s reasons for dropping out. The ego has taken an absolute beating. But this is being shown how far from our own perceptions’ reality can be. I have many times told classes that no one gets to make it through the workout with ease. It must be a challenge for everyone every single night. The workouts help the student battle their initial shock to the ego and then perception can change. This first stage of training is the realization that we are not what we think we are, or who. In fact, our minds seem to feel like they are a disparate part from our bodies. This realization that one cannot simply balance on one leg for example, must be taken as a call to realize the mind and the body are not connected properly. Physical movement training slowly helps us change from a mind riding and controlling a body into a Mindbody.
Mindbody is my term for the state of integration of this yin yang pair. Here the mind and body are no longer separate at all. Placing the mind on the end of a finger is no different than placing it on a memory or bring the body to movement. Here even if we are training consistently it can take years to integrate specific movements into balance which is part of the fun of the martial arts, the long complex puzzle itself. A nondual state of mind body is often termed as having strong qi, which it is. When one of the most difficult to balance relationships balances, many things can be done more easily. Martial Arts Masters at this level throw around people , move like water or snakes, and are skilled.
Yin Yang never stops changing into and through one another. Transformation is a truth of reality in that all things come to pass. So, the second stage, that of mind body, must transform again. This stage is the purposeful separation of mind and body once again. Yet, this is no return to the beginning of training. At the beginning of training the student comes as a child does, innocent but interested. Now the veteran realizes that by integrating the body and mind to the level of a single mind body has trained the body to have natural habits different from the beginners. Those habits if honed over years of practice will not need the attention of the conscious mind to perform. This frees the mind then for other work during the integrated movement of the art.
Mind before Body is the first stage of finding naturalness for the art. This means having the mind stop paying attention to who is doing what and instead move ahead with the intention before the body moves. A tiger does not sit in the grass looking at a deer worrying about its appearance or age. Its mind is already moving and touching the deer. The tiger does not feel it own body in this state, it chases its mind and brings mind and body to bear to accomplish a single task with different tools. Another good example would be Mike Tyson. When fighting he is animalistic and natural and his intention and body work like music with melody and rhythm. The mind and body work in unison to make this music but are no longer doing the same thing at the same time.