November 13, 2006

My Heart Just Wasn’t In It

Posted in martial arts, philosophy of mind, psychology, science at 3:41 am by Jerry

I often question the validity of the psychosomatic process. And today is one of those days when I can’t help but wonder if it is valid. Throughout my Kung-Fu training I have discovered alot about my poor posture. I use to think posture was only about taking on a rigid, physical pose – “Sit up straight!” I’ve seen on TV shows, characters being “civilized” by learning to walk with a book balanced on top of their heads. But through my current training I’ve been discovering there is so much more value to this practice of posture


    1. A position of the body or of body parts: a sitting posture.
    2. An attitude; a pose: assumed a posture of angry defiance.
  1. A characteristic way of bearing one’s body; carriage: stood with good posture.
  2. Relative placement or arrangement: the posture of the buildings on the land.
  3. A stance or disposition with regard to something: “Those bases are essential to our military posture in the Middle East” (Gerard Smith).
  4. A frame of mind affecting one’s thoughts or behavior; an overall attitude.


My training has revealed to me that my heart was literally not into the maneuvers my body was doing. I arched my upper back as if my heart was trying to pop out of it. And to compensate, my mind would literally over-extend itself forward to over-analyze a badly needed instinctive response. And to increasingly lose adherence to a unified posture, my arms would get so involved with creating distance between me and my opponent’s strikes that their fluttering disconnected themselves from any power in my stances – which were also disconnected from a pelvis slipping out backwards and up to inadvertently dump my belly in front of me. Horrible.

Presently, I’m working to correct my posture while avoiding any further compensations of my uninvolved heart – like the superficial puffing out of the chest with rigid muscles, holding nothing but air (as if I was covering an insecurity of mine). I’m told by my Shifu (Kung-Fu teacher) to be relaxed-yet-ready; and breathing belongs at the back of the gut. I’m also told, after learning all the body mechanics of a posture to make them one feeling.

I wish I would have learned these lessons sooner. They might have saved me from alot of unhealthy behaviour. Whether it’s from the martial arts training I took before Jiulong Baguazhang Kung-Fu or just the verbal and psychological battles I’ve had while growing up, I can see now that I’ve mistakenly made an attempt to protect my heart by pulling it back from its natural position.

“Live and Learn,” they say, but what do they say about the difference between learning to think and learning to feel? There were so many times when a teacher of mine in public school (from early on) would write in my report card or stress to my parents, “Jerry would do so much better if he put his mind to it.” Apparently, I was capable of doing better than I did, but I daydreamed too much.

The teachers never (from what I can remember) suggested the possibility that my heart just wasn’t in it. Why would they? Because, then what? The mind is a better actor than the heart. Getting a student to think about different ideas is one thing, but getting a student to feel different emotions and desires would ask so much more from the teacher, more than the teacher may be able to give.

[note: I’ve described here my analogy of the relationship between emotion and reason, but I’d like to expand on it a little. Though I think emotion is to reason as flesh is to bone, I want to emphasize that there is a time when bone is not yet formed. And I say this because I want to emphasize that flesh and desire are much more prevalent than bone and reason. In other words – Just as flesh sets up the bone to keep the flesh in its place, I think desire does the same with reason.]



  1. Jadon said,

    Ah…the integration of vigilance and vulnerability. I know the challenge well, having the experiene of a panic disorder where the body doesn’t cooperate with intellect or emotion sometimes. What seems to matter is the interaction between body and circumstances, including with people.

  2. […] ‘center’, the hub of all that we personally believe, is not how we are currently posturing ourselves – our acting priorities askew (or is it our individual ‘center’ that’s […]

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