Monday, June 5, 2017

Martial Arts Monday: Stress Relief

Imagine if you will, you've had a bad day. Life got stressful and everything Murphy and his law could throw at you landed in your lap. Sucks right?

We've all been there. Life is heavy. There is no rhyme nor reason, but somehow everything you try to do you just can't win. The load of chicken you already didn't want to haul to and fro spills in the back of your car. The person you try to avoid but can't makes yet another innuendo that is borderline harassment and refuses to take the hint and back off. Your boss berates you in a group email to the rest of the staff because she forgot how to read. Yeah, that's happened to me too.

Now, imagine you have an outlet. There is somewhere you can go with all that rage, frustration, pain, and hurt. All those feelings of being unseen, unheard, and disrespected swirl inside until you feel like you are going to burst. What if you had a place where that is okay? What if you had a padded room full of punching bags and friends?

Martial arts is a wonderful way to blow off steam. There have been days (like the one described above) where life just plain fucking sucks. On days like this I usually tell my friends that I need to just hit something. I am too mad, frustrated, sad, and disappointed to handle sparring with someone I don't actually want to hurt. That's when I bust out the boxing gloves and go to town on the bags until I am sweaty, exhausted, and potentially crying. It is an energy release. It gets all that pent up rage out in a constructive way. I don't hurt anyone. I don't even hurt myself. I get the rush of endorphins from the workout. And, it clears my mind.

Exercise of any kind is great for calming someone down and working through emotional upheaval. That being said, boxing, Muy Thai, or any other striking style of martial arts has the added benefit of channeling the physical aggression you feel when you are truly pissed off. There is just something immensely satisfying in hitting a bag and watching it swing from the force of your effort.

The danger is when you can't control yourself until you get to the dojo. Think bar fights and assault. These people either don't have enough self-control to make it as long as it takes to get there, are chemically impaired, or have nowhere to go. I truly believe most conflicts CAN be solved with honest, open communication. Unfortunately, most communication is neither honest or open. If the physical aggression is taken out of the equation, the only thing that is left is the rational explanation for the situation. Heads clear, hearts calm, and understanding can take place.

Now, I am one of those weird people who has a small in-home gym. So, if I'm really pissed, I can pull out my own punching bag and vent that pressure. If you don't have this set-up, then a pillow works great. Shut your bedroom door and lock it if you can. Make sure you are alone. I mean really alone. Yes, the cat counts in this case. Kick it out. Yeah, all of them. Now, place a pillow in the center of your bed. Put another one end to end. Sit on the first one on your knees so you're straddling it. Now, ground and pound the crap out of the second one. Fists, hammerfists, elbow strikes, head butts, whatever inspiration strikes, go for it. Yell and scream and rant and rave and tell off that pillow.

Feel better?

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