Thursday, June 16, 2011

Kung Fu Cat? The nature of martial arts


Credits, above and below: iStockPhoto.com

Ever noticed how a startled cat reacts? It crouches low to the ground. The cat becomes a coiled spring, ready to move in any direction.

Kyle Albers, who graduated from Emory in May with a degree in environmental studies, notices these things. He holds a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo, studies To Shin Do, and is a student of Japanese swordsmanship.

For a senior project, Albers investigated the connections between martial arts and the natural world, and he has created a blog on the topic.

While a startled cat flexes into a crouch, or “grounds out,” he notes that humans in this situation tend to tense up and lock their knees, limiting their ability to react. The behaviors of cats and other animals are just one example of what nature can teach a martial arts practitioner.

“The adaptive cycle of a martial artist parallels to how an ecosystem adapts and evolves to changes,” Albers says. “Every attack that is successfully blocked opens paths for new counters that can be successful offensive techniques.”

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