Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Power of the Punch! (or block, or kick)

Someone recently brought up feeling uncomfortable with the more 'aggressive' moves in class.  And I thank her so much for acknowledging and voicing the concern.  I have observed that some (mostly women) have a difficult time with the TaiKwanDo moves and stating "no."  I have also observed that some women, in particular, find a lot of enjoyment/relief/gratification (not sure exactly) from the same moves and sounds.  It's like they've waited their whole lives to freely express.  Some of us (myself included) have had to sit on our energy a lot in order to be socially acceptable.  Our culture has a lot of judgmental labels for women who are strong, passionate, and stand for something.  (Example: the way Hillary was bashed for talking about health care in the '90s!!!!)  Blocks are always about boundary setting.  Sounding, for me, is about owning my voice.  A lack of respect for women's boundaries pervades our culture.  (The entire abortion 'debate' is about who gets to control women's bodies.)  Often women who have been abused have difficulty with this whole issue of setting and protecting their own boundaries, and the practice of owning and voicing boundaries can be one of the most healing things we do in a Nia class.

Another aspect:  there are things in this world that are not OK.  It is not OK for criminals to steal over 300 girls and the whole world to just stand around twiddling thumbs (while they continue to steal more girls).  We have the technology to have done a lot (particularly at first) and we didn't.  It is easy to be angry about those things and have no where to put it.  So, I have my own outrage, and I express for those who can't.  No!  This needs to stop!  Owning my outrage and having an expressive outlet for it feels healthier than shrugging my shoulders and feeling powerless.

Another part of it is:  we can never truly say yes when we cannot truly say no.  Saying no and yes are powerful statements.  This is where I put my energy, this is where I won't.  So many of us have obligations all over the place and they drain energy.  We often take things on with a sense of joy and hopefulness, then get overloaded and frazzled.  So, stopping and noting:  this feeds me, this doesn't, and rearranging priorities helps.  Yes to this, no to that - frees energy and passion.  It can happen in class - you are just saying "No" (because its in the choreography), when the thing you need to say no to (and haven't, yet) shows up.  Some of us have had very stressful jobs at times, and going to Nia and sounding yes!, no!, and HUH! can be a safe outlet for frustration arising from work or family problems.

Yet another way to look at it is:  it's all energy.  It's neither masculine or feminine.  Would you mess with a cute bear cub if you knew it's mama was around?  Mama bear energy looks dangerous and aggressive.  Sometimes there is a reason for that energy that is neither negative or positive - it just is.  And we are wise to be aware of it. 

Now, I love the feeling of aliveness, freedom, and connecting to passion that I get when I make those powerful sounds - yes! no! huh! and movements - punch, block, strike, kick.  I get so much joy from sensing the power of the stance (my legs), my core, and my voice.  Come to Nia and celebrate the raw power of your own physicality.  RAH!  Own it!  It's YOURS!  

Do you have any insights to share about your experience of these energies in class?  If so, comment below.


GaBy said...

Dear Leela
I guess with me is different. I LOVE the kicking and hitting and blocking, as well as the dancing, and turning and moving. I feel powerful, and have TaeKwonDo medals to prove I can hit, kick, fight, win. I am not particularly proud of them because I never liked the fighting side of the martial art, but I like them because they remind me I can do things I never thought possible. Now, about my aversion to make sounds (which I happen to feel more comfortable with yes and no than with making sound when hitting)... after reading your post I thought it probably comes from being afraid of my voice not representing me, is just part of my innate shyness, or indeed reminiscences of repression from the past... Thanks for making me think about it... and I may try harder to be louder...

Nancy Russo said...

Rapists look for targets who appear to be docile. They use the norm that "women should be nice and never be rude" against us.

Being able to just say say "NO" in a loud and powerful voice is an important rape prevention strategy to have in our self-protection arsenal.

Also, knowing you can surprise someone with a sold punch that can help you get away gives women an air of confidence that makes a her less likely to be targeted by a rapist.

BTW, a good shout (no, yes, or just a good "hai") is terrific exercise for the vocal chords, which is a big plus for us older folks who want to preserve the strength of our voices as we age!

I love your point about choice requiring options - if you can't say no, yes isn't a choice, and we place more value on what we freely choose.