Since making the connection with Black Belt School’s dojo as a place to offer Nia classes, I have found myself considering how the martial arts contribute to Nia in a deeper way. I have had a solid education of it due to my direct experience practicing Tae Kwon Do and Tai Chi. And that direct experience has also provided me with opportunities to master the physical demands of precision and safe execution of the movements.
But there is something more to it. Each of the 3 martial arts used in Nia bring a distinct energy with it. And each of those energies teaches us more ways to experience sensations of aliveness in our personal dances through life.
The first martial art to cross my own path was Tae Kwon Do. I took it up with a good friend in university. I was lucky enough that our sensei used the last 10 minutes of each class to teach all the girls basic self-defense. It was the first time anyone had made the threat of being physically assaulted feel like a real possibility for me. And I am always grateful for that. I do not fall into the “oh, that won’t happen to me” category… which is the most dangerous category, by the way!
I now know that being hyper aware of your surroundings (360 degrees!) is the best defense. If you let a potential threat get close enough to touch or grab you, you are gonna get hurt (unless you are a highly trained fighting expert with real experience under your belt)! I know how to throw a punch without hurting my shoulder, and I also know that using punching and blocking sequences is one awesome, fun and VERY effective way to tighten and tone your abdominal muscles!
Tai Chi taught me about breath and balance. Within 15 minutes of my first Tai Chi class, I was dripping with sweat. Even though it may look like a cool slow-motion version of Tae Kwon Do that is the total opposite of dangerous and threatening, it is all about WHERE we get our energy and power from. The Earth. If you want wicked-strong thighs that sweep and curve in just the right places, Tai Chi is where it’s at! The mellow speed of the movements engages your muscles at a deeper level for a longer period of time than hopping up and down in jumping jacks or burpies. The movements are also very obviously rotational (round) mixed with some linear. This ensures strength in all muscle and joint connections because the human body is designed with both. Most traditional strength and fitness training rely on linear movements because they are easy to learn. However it is a major disservice to the athlete because it’s like only cooking your (gluten-free) pancake on one side! Eww. It’s just not right!
Aikido focuses on the movement of spherical motion. When used appropriately and with skill, the circular movements deflect oncoming energy away by using the opponent’s own strength and momentum to do so. Notice that I didn’t say “against them.” Many martial arts follow the principle that the best fight is the one that is avoided, and I love how Aikido can so clearly demonstrate this. Aikido teaches us to flow along and around the attacker or aggressive energy, and if at all possible to avoid engaging directly with it. We only need to be able to guide it past and away from us to stay safe. The swirling and spinning becomes very dance-like as the participants move in and away from each other. In Nia, Aikido gives us the grounded, balanced and graceful connection to the circle and turn across the floor. The knees are bent and we step in wide stances shifting weight seamlessly as we travel. Dodging toddlers, pets and misplaced household items becomes a lot easier with a grasp of the movements of Aikido!
I am looking forward to dancing in Black Belt School’s dojo and absorbing the direct, powerful energy of the martial arts practiced there. For me, the martial arts in Nia give a steady and reliable weight to her; she isn’t a fluffy, bouncy noodle (all the time!). She is strong. Has direction. Won’t be pushed around, and is willing to fight what she believes in… as am I.
Next week we are offering 2 free classes of Nia at the dojo. Pick a time and date that fits with your schedule and join us! Classes will be starting in the Fall, so we’d love to see your support!
Let us know when you are coming by contacting me or the dojo.
Thursday, July 25th, 8pm
Saturday, July 27th, 2pm
Black Belt Schools
1555 Bishop St. East
For map, click HERE