Posted on 24 April 2008 by chan
How do you know whether a person wants to harm you or not? When does the game turn from a game into a fight? Where do people’s true intentions lie?
How could you ever know?
Sensing intention has been around in the martial arts for centuries. Although it seems sometimes a little too abstract or far fetched for the average martial artist, it is definately a medium to explore if it is indeed possible.
Many times have I been in a roda and felt the hairs stand up on top of my arms. The look in one’s eye, the fake smile that someone wears, the feeling that lingers in the air…
By no means am I an expert on this subject, nor do I pretend to claim that I possess ‘super human powers’. I am just merely exploring the subject to help contribute to it.
THE FIVE SENSES
From my understanding, the five senses are what we primarily use to gauge situations and react accordingly. Thoughts and emotions are secondary. This ‘sixth sense’, sensing the intentions of others, seems to be overwhelmed and blocked out by the over-stimulation of your other senses, thoughts and emotions. It’s like with our bodies, sometimes we work too much on the bigger muscle groups. This can sometimes cause us problems because our smaller muscles become weak and eventually do not work properly.
By using the five senses and by directing our thoughts emotions and focus to opening this sense, I truly believe that you can become better aware of the way others may feel towards you and a better general sense of your environment.
If you get a chance, have a look into Gestalt psychotherapy. It explores heightening awareness and helping understand how to ‘be in the moment’.
Remember, the only thing that holds you back is your mind.
Training The Mind
here is a little left right brain test to help you explore the capabilities of your mind, and the way you percieve things.
In this picture below, is the dancer turning clockwise or anti-clockwise?
Can you make her spin either way?
Look closely, it is important that you believe you can, you must convince your mind and yourself that you can do it.
Apparently, if you naturally see her spin clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa.
LEFT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
words and language
present and past
math and science
knows object name
RIGHT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
“big picture” oriented
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can “get it” (i.e. meaning)
knows object function
Now that your brain is sufficiently warmed up, I recently ran a trainathon, which involved teaching capoeira for 13 hours straight.
Intention exercise 1
Within our trainathon we covered a few experimental exercises on intention and feeling intention. One of the exercises we split the group into partners, and one person would hold a coin in one hand, whilst the partner tries to snatch the coin out of their hand. Just like a reflex game, the person holding the coin had to close their hand before the other person could get the coin. Next we made the person holding the coin do it with their eyes shut. Next, we held a coin in each hand, closed our eyes and tried to feel which hand the person would go for and at what time.
If you ever have the time and partner to do this with, I would love to hear how you go.
The important thing that helps me, is to try and relax and clear your mind from everything that is not that moment in time.
Intention Exercise 2
The next exercise was having two people face the other way kneeling down, eyes shut, with a soft stick in one hand. Two other people would sneak up behind them and try to have to touch the person on the back and run off. The person kneeling has to try and sense when the person is about to touch them and touch the person with the stick beforehand.
You will see in a video below some demonstrations of the exercises we performed. There were many more hits and misses, but I only put in a couple for your enjoyment. In the soft stick exercise we also had the music up really loud so that the people could not rely on hearing.
We related these intention exercises on general distancing and knowing if a person is about to kick you or not.
We did this by having each person ginga, and one person throw out a bencao. When they threw the bencao out they could choose to try and hit the other person or try and think about only kicking close to them but not touching them. The other person would have to decide whether or not to react to the kick by getting out the way or just staying in ginga.
When I know other people’s intent, I feel like I have more ability to control my actions and reactions to others. If I am sensitive to the people around me and my environment, I feel more connected to who I am.
These were only a couple of examples of exercises we ran through, We definately had a lot of fun and if you play with these ideas, I am sure you will too. If you know of any other exercises or have any comments or suggestions on exercises to help train feeling intent, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Axe and Salve!