Emotion in Action

There is power in emotions: training decides whether the power controls you, or the other way around. This is an awesome and clear example of how the classical martial arts got things right, and why they’re so darn relevant to real modern day living.

For example, in some of our training, we learn that a “Flat Posture” is said to come from the feeling of wanting to protect something or someone of importance behind you. Look at this guard in the photo, working during one of the LA reactionary nights after some national news broke out. He is obviously experiencing very real emotion, and wants to protect what is behind him – his natural tendencies from there spread him out flat to cover that space.

Natural Kamae

Guard’s emotions create kamae spontaneously.


In training, I follow this plan: the emotions are going to be there, and they’re going to have an effect on how I stand, walk, talk, breathe, etc. By training with that assumption as a starting point, I can recognize when my body starts doing those things, in a “been there done that” kind of way, and then (hopefully) make more appropriate response decisions.

But, do you want to train in a way that uses emotions as a base for understanding movement? There are plenty of folks who might disagree. They prefer to work towards an extreme control of emotions, so that they will not be swayed by them. There is certainly a lot to be said for this approach: Emotional Regulation is an enormously important goal if you desire avoidance of unnecessary conflict and violence. I suggest, however, that we consider what happens if we haven’t trained to work with our emotions if they do get involved.

There is plenty of debate on how much is too much, and how little is too little. Losing control and being entirely driven by emotion is likely to steer you into undesirable directions. Of course, subduing a potential power source in a time of desperate need will also be found lacking. Maybe … by training in accordance with our emotions, we can regulate them appropriately AND harness the power they make available when we need it.

Leave your thoughts here, and be part of the discussion.