What can western civilisation take from the east when it comes to physical conditioning?
Despite globalisation, a gap exists between west and east leading to a failure of the cultures to learn from each other.
Is a loss of advantage the fear?
Let’s break down the barrier – what the west can learn from the east…
Practice a martial art
Martial arts, whether Kung Fu, Karate or Muay Thai, are embedded in the eastern culture. The west has its own forms but they are not intertwined with the fabric society as you’ll find Kung Fu, for example.
Travel to China and nearly everyone has experience with Kung Fu – why is this important?
From a physical perspective, it helps to develop coordination and body awareness from an early age. Knowing where your body is in space has carryover to athleticism. Also, it helps to develop physical attributes like flexibility.
Remaining physically active improves longevity and quality of life. Stereotypical western sports, like football, are not often conducive to long careers. Many amateur athletes retire in their mid-thirties out of fear of injury.
Martial arts offers an opportunity to live an active lifestyle for longer. Western countries are beginning to see this and offer bastardised Tai Chi programs for the elderly which, although not ideal, is a start.
Genetics are often cited as the reason people of Asian descent move more freely than their western counterparts. There is more to it than heredity. A lifestyle of adopting challenging postures and stances – through martial arts – plays a role in developing enviable mobility.
Also by blending static stretches with ballistic movements – like the various kicks of martial arts – leads to control of the body through a full range of motion.
Try a martial art.
Search until you find one that suits you. You’ll develop practical skills, join a like-minded community and challenge yourself physically and mentally. If a martial art is too much of a stretch, dancing or other activities that involve sequence-oriented movement patterns will do the trick.
What are your thoughts on what the West can learn from the East?