Dealing With Clumsiness
Billy was not the sort of guy you’d trust your pet butterfly with…..
Clumsy was not the word, he fell over his own feet, a touch was always a hit and I’m sure he thought a kiss was a headbutt. Nobody liked pairing up with him in class, it always meant hard work and unnecessary bruises.
“Soften Billy” Sifu’s words were coaxing, “soften”….
“I’m sorry Sifu, I just can’t” wailed Billy – “I just ain’t built that way.”
“You’re only clumsy because you think you are, use Saam Jin (Sanchin) to soften the core” said Sifu quietly.
“Do you mean practice the form?” asked Billy.
“The principle” answered Sifu, “make the posture.”
Billy adopted the pigeon toed Saam Jin stance and looked about as comfortable as a chicken on a lion’s bottom lip. Sifu placed the first two fingers of his right hand on the centre of Billy’s chest.
“Soften…..” he encouraged.
“Nothings happening”, Billy complained.
“Okay try using the Saam Jin principle to soften” said Sifu.
“And that is?” queried Billy.
“Use your outgoing breath and your mental concentration to soften the chest first, treat it like a ‘sigh’…” As Billy sighed, Sifu felt the first change, “that’s good, did you feel that?”
“Yeah… that was good…” said a pleased Billy.
“Okay, so now take a deep breath in using your abdominal muscles and without raising the ribcage – and as you ‘sigh’ the breath out, soften the muscles around the lungs.” Billy did this and his chest sunk again and his upper back ‘opened’ between the shoulder blades.
“Now your body is responding to the Saam Jin principles,” said Sifu. Close your eyes, listen to and feel your heart beating, locate it in your chest…” Billy closed his eyes and relaxed even more.
“I can feel it,” he said quietly.
“Good,” said Sifu, “now relax the pericardium around the heart and down into the diaphragm.”
Billy did this and then said, “it now feels like my ribcage is resting on a stiff core at the waist.”
“That’s exactly right,” replied Sifu, “everything you have softened so far is connected down to the psoas muscles that connect upper and lower body, now you need to ‘soften the waist’ – let go in the lower back, the waist and the glutes as well as deep into the core and connect your upper and lower body.”
Billy tried, “nothing’s happening” he wailed.
“Have patience Billy, the harder you try, the worse it will get, take a few breaths and keep encouraging your body to ‘let go’ of these muscles, this is both mentally and physically deep and we’re also working on an emotional level here as the body holds physical and emotional trauma in it’s core.”
Billy looked disappointed, “nothings happening….”
Sifu kept his hand on Billy’s chest to calm him as well as to feel the changes in his body. “Let’s hit it from the other end, release your ankle joints” Billy did this, “good… now your knees, excellent, now your hips…..” Sifu’s hand then felt like it was on top of a downward elevator as the huge release took place connecting upper and lower body and Billy’s body weight dropped into the muscles in his legs.
Billy’s knees trembled slightly as the bottom of the quadriceps muscles took up his weight… “wow” he exclaimed.
Sifu continued, “well done, now soften around the backs of your knees and down the calves, keep going into the plantar fascia under the feet…”
Billy now looked comfortable, connected and rooted… “I don’t want to move now!”
“Standing like this is good exercise, particularly to feel that internal connection, to be body aware and develop the sensitivity required – but you also need to be able to keep that in motion.”
“Dunno ‘bout that” said Billy…
Sifu looked thoughtful…“The important thing is, that this is something you can practice all the time you are standing, sitting and moving. The process of ‘letting go’ of your core and internally connecting your body makes you more body aware and mentally sharper and focused.
Your ‘clumsiness’ is more emotional and mental because you are ‘holding’ trauma in your core and this is how it manifests itself physically. In the long term this tension will result in injury and ill health, the constant process of internal connection and harmony will improve you on many levels – not just in your physical technique. As you release the core it will release all the connected myofascial chains throughout the body releasing unnecessary tension around the internal organs and those controlling the joints and spine helping you to re-align everything…”
“I can’t believe the difference just standing here now!” Billy was quite excited. “They should teach this stuff in school to everyone, think of the difference it would make to the National Health Service and the well being of the nation! It’d help the kids to focus more in lessons and feel a lot better…. It’d relieve the pain of millions of old and sick people contorted by unnatural tension…”
Sifu smiled…. “If we can’t change everything all at once, we’ll do it one person at a time, starting with you….”
“That’ll be fine by me,” smiled Billy standing in Saam Jin with a beaming, relaxed smile on his face.