“Move it buddy!” What do you imagine when you read those three words? Are you cruising in the fast lane on the highway up to Whistler, envisioning riding the slopes in knee-deep powder, when you round a corner to see a car going 20 under the speed limit?
Wrong! Though, admittedly, you were preconditioned with the image of a shaking fist.
Instead, imagine yourself running after a soccer ball, with green grass under your feet, blue sky above, and fresh air pumping in and out of your lungs, while your teammate cheers you on, “move it buddy!” What’s that feeling filling your heart and mind while you run hard and hear those words? Joy, pure and simple.
Movement brings joy. Ever had a bad morning at work? What’s the best thing you can do for yourself at lunch? Go for a walk! And the best thing you can do after work? Go for some exercise! You start with your head filled with thoughts and problems from the day, crowding your mind like an unruly mob. Then something wonderful begins to happen as you start moving. Your breathing and heart rate increase, you feel warmer and more energized. And all of a sudden the mob is quiet, you've stopped thinking and instead you are moving, feeling. You're present in the moment.
Movement brings relief when we get in a funk, but there’s more to it than that. We are meant to move, destined to do so until the end of our lives. In fact, death could be said to be the permanent end of movement. Movement is truly an expression of life. The best kinds of movement, the ones that create and foster that internal joy, are ones that provide us with some kind of betterment or expression. Practicing Wing Chun kung fu gives us the opportunity to enjoy both.
The true un-westernized meaning of kung fu is achievement through hard work, or excellence achieved through practice. The movements we undertake in Wing Chun kung fu are ones that we are always trying to improve. Not only that, but the movements we practice also help us become better people. Physically, we get stronger and more flexible. We reach an optimal weight, and paired with proper nutrition, we become healthier overall. Mentally, we become more coordinated, more aware and, with dedication to repeated movement and progress, more disciplined.
Wing Chun can be practiced solo or with partners. Practicing the movements of Wing Chun with a partner helps us learn self-control, awareness and empathy, again making us better people. Practicing the movements of Wing Chun solo allows us to express ourselves. Whether practicing with a partner or solo though, every practitioner of Wing Chun will express the same movements in slightly different ways. Teach the same principle of movement to 10 different people, and you will get 10 difference expressions of that principle in each person’s movement. We’re all practicing the same movements, but we are all moving in slightly different ways. Through self-expression, we make the movements our own.
So what does practicing Wing Chun kung fu get you? Movement in the cause of betterment and self-expression. And when we move like that, we feel true joy.
Whatever your favorite variety is, make movement a part of every hour! Run, walk, bike, ride a wheelchair, dance, kick, punch, sway, lift weights, air drum, bungee jump, nod to the music… just move!
What are your favorite forms of movement? Why do you enjoy them and how do they make you feel? I look forward to reading your responses in the comments below!