Combative Energy is What Makes Martial Arts Unique

There’s punching the bag mindlessly.

Then there’s punching the bag with intent.

And then, there’s punching the bag with martial warrior spirit!
This is the one I want to talk about. This one is a visualization that you are in battle, and you don’t have time to think or get too analytical. You have to move to survive.

Imagine - you are in a violent confrontation. You have 3 choices:

  1. Flight

  2. Freeze

  3. Fight

You choose option 3, to fight. That takes a mindset. Some of us already have it. Some of us don’t have it. Some of us don’t have it, and don’t want it. Some of us don’t have it, but want it.

Ok. If you don’t have it, but want it, this is where we come in. Building any sort of martial arts or self defense skill is first and foremost a mindset.

You have to think in terms of combat. And if you are pretty removed from that, it helps to start with being very very technical about things. Once you put the technical pieces together, you start finding that if you “ramp it up”, your techniques start working better. You are tapping into the combative energy. BUT, you’re still not there, yet!

Just because you put the technique pieces together, and you’ve ramped it up, doesn’t mean you’ve full embraced combative energy, yet. There’s another layer. That layer is, now you visualize and act as if you are using that technique in a life or death situation, and there is no time to think, and you move with EVERY OUNCE of your mind, body, heart, and spirit - your survival depends on it!!

This way of moving is getting out of your intellectual, cognitive brain, and going straight “lizard”! Meaning, you are moving with emotion, expression, and purpose.

You have to practice this, if you are, in general, a non-combative, agreeable person, by nature. It means you have to accept certain levels of violence. It means that you have to be okay with the fact that you have to picture yourself causing physical harm to another human being. If you cannot picture this, then you will never truly be able to connect with combative energy.

Come to terms with violence. To be clear, I’m not advocating you to actually become violent. Not at all!! I want you to be the most peaceful, helpful person on the planet! But in order to be helpful, you have to be strong. And when you have come to terms with violence, are not intimidated by violence, and are not afraid to inflict violence when you are physically attacked, you become even stronger. Thus, you could amplify your servitude to others, because you don’t have fear of any sort of random act of violence.

Tapping into your combative energy is a very deep, philosophical idea, that comes out in your movement. It is very clear to me, even when someone is doing a solo form (kata), I can tell if they have connected with their combative energy. The details, the aesthetics, the performance attributes, and the athleticism of it are great. But those don’t get to the heart of combative energy directly. I personally would rather see someone perform a routine kind of sloppy, but with very clear combative energy. That demonstrates a person who is willing to fight for themselves.

Embracing combative energy is what martial arts is all about. Part of embracing combative energy requires you to visualize yourself doing violent damage to someone who has attempted physical harm to you. Think about this the next time you hit a bag, pad, or do some moves in the air - does it have combative energy?