Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Getting into the Rhythm - The Law of Cadence

This law is about understanding Rhythm and states that ‘life moves to a beat or rhythm mastering life is the matching of ones natural rhythm to ones environment’

We are all composed of energy and energy produces vibration or a beat; a rhythm. Everything in life moves to a beat, a rhythm; heart beat, day and night, the four seasons, the beat of a bird’s wing, the tides; the cycle of the Moon, the rhythm of our breathing. Being in accordance with the natural rhythm of life brings peace and harmony. Towns and cities have a fast beat an artificial rhythm and the countryside has a different rhythm which we can feel when we visit which may account for why so many city people flock to the countryside at the first chance they get. Being in accordance with the natural rhythm of life brings one a sense of peace and being out of rhythm often brings illness and internal discord.

The master martial artist understands that life is built around rhythm and seeks to match his own to the natural rhythm of life. In combat the master develops his own rhythm and destroys his opponent’s rhythm. His movements have a beat and his ability to change his cadence to match or exceed his opponent’s is what makes him a master.

There is a saying which goes ‘repetition is the mother of skill’, repetition is the rhythm of practice and the more we repeat or practice the more we develop our skill level. The more we practice the deeper our understanding and the more efficient our control of speed, timing, distance, leverage and balance. For instance running; running is a simple physical activity, it’s just putting one foot in front of another at a fast beat. But the experienced runner will move more efficiently, use less energy and develop more momentum through sustained repetition over time. The development of our skill in running is not intellectual though we can study it and apply what we learn from it to help others achieve greater efficiency. But the runner himself learns at a more basic level. By constantly repeating the practice of running his body learns how to run more efficiently and running more efficiently is the utilisation of the 5 DELTA keys more efficiently through practice. Understanding the learning process does not mean one runs faster but it can if used thoughtfully, but the constant repetition of the steps over time builds a deep, subtle innate understanding of the process that does not need to be understood, just utilised to reach ones objective.

Another saying is ‘practice makes perfect’ and this too is the utilisation of rhythm to build greater skill. The master martial artist builds his skill through many years of practice but he practices with an intent that in martial arts is called the ‘Way’. The way, the tao, the ‘do’ in Judo, aikido, karate-do, hapkido, tae kwon do represents the pursuit of the ‘way’ through sustained, thoughtful practice to uncover the secret of life. Only practice can achieve this, the sustained repeating of the same movements again and again over many years brings the master closer to understanding the ‘Way’. Through this practice his movements become so ‘natural’ that he appears to do things without any effort. His speed is deceptively easy, simple; his technique flows like water and his balance never seems to be disturbed.

Many practices bring this same ease of movement achieved through practice but the martial artist in particular uses his practice to divine the mysteries that elude most normal people. ‘You can’t hit a target that you can’t see’ is a phrase that we use in martial arts; ‘ordinary’ people won’t often attain an understanding of the ‘Way’ because they don’t know its there. They can’t see it because they don’t know about it, they can’t recognise it. Imagine it like a ‘magic eye’ picture; in order to perceive the image one must achieve a certain focus of ones eyes, but unless one knows the image is there one won’t know to change ones focus in order to see the image. In martial arts it has long been known of and the educated master is actively searching for it through constant practice of the same movements over and over again. By practicing their techniques over many years they (the masters)  learn more and more about the movement and by knowing what to look for they begin to glimpse the ‘Way’ which in my mind is the other side or what one might call spirituality, the greatest of all intelligences. Practice is rhythm or beat, done fast or slow in attacking technique or defensive technique. Practice of the beat enhances ones movement creating efficient technique.

In the AEGIS system we categorise defence into 5 levels based on their effectiveness in defence or attack; level 5 is avoidance of an attack and is the best way to stay out of conflict, though as with most problems, by avoiding them they don’t necessarily go away. Level 4 is to block the problem which means to put oneself at risk. Level 3 is to re-direct the opponents force and is the beginning of ones control over the attacker. Level 2 is to evade/intercept which is to hit him as he tries to hit you and level one is to attack which is to hit him before he tries to launch his own attack and is often the element of surprise. Each level has its own rhythm or beat and the less the number of beats, the faster the response down to the point where one starts before his attack is launched.

The level 5 beat is applicable only if one wants to avoid first and then counter attack but to move away from the attack as the level requires and then move back into danger to counter attack is slow; not to say it won’t work but the greater the time between the attack and the counter gives the opponent more time to build his own rhythm. Level 4 rhythm is block and counter which is two distinct beats, level 3 is the beginning of interception and uses an anticipation of the attack bringing the beat to a 1 and half beat. Level 2 is a simultaneous defence and counter which is 1 beat but still the beat responds to the attack and so whilst effective is still reactive.

Level one is one beat but its different this time as you are not responding you are attacking so you control the beat this could be called ‘no beat’. This is therefore the fastest response, not allowing the physical attack to begin. It’s for this reason that as the saying goes ‘attack is the best defence’ as it has the briefest rhythm being simply attack, it uses one of the most effective strategies which is surprise.

These are examples of rhythm used in martial arts but there are many more such as the rhythm in ones footwork, timing, techniques, combinations, and the like. But most of all the key rhythm is the practice of technique into the 1000’s with the intention of gaining the deepest levels of mastery. The ancient masters knew this and decried the efforts of later generations just as we do today. What they really decry is the attitude of the current generation who always seem to want faster results without application of the necessary number of repetitions. In reality some martial artists are applying themselves to mastery as they always have done whilst others want the faster results.

The point of all this is to understand that life is full of rhythm whether we realise it or not, but by realising it we can use it to our benefit. Martial arts and life build rhythms through practice and what is another word for rhythm ‘habit’. Our habits define us and as Aristotle said ‘we are what we consistently do’. We can achieve anything or nothing through our habits by applying our focus toward goals that are worthy or otherwise, either way we can build our life in whatever way we want, but if we take the martial ‘Way’ we can use the law of cadence/rhythm to delve into mastery and glimpse something much deeper.

Our habits are both our enemy and our friend and as long as we recognise which we can develop them toward our chosen goals. Our habits are our rhythm our cadence and our habits are literally thousands of times more powerful than our intentions. Just as Pavlov created chosen habits in his dog experiments teaching them to salivate at the ringing of a bell we can deliberately build our rhythm our habits to put our intentions on automatic by creating habits that achieve our goals in life and martial arts.

The secret to understanding the law of cadence is to decide what you want and how to use the law of rhythm to either get rid of old habits and build the new ones that serve your intentions or goals. This is not an easy task but one that is made easier by understanding the law.

By using the law of cadence we can develop our rhythm into one of the most effective strategies of martial arts which is ‘momentum’. Momentum is the development of cadence to the point where it overwhelms any opposition; breaking the rhythm of our opponent reaching a tipping point where the rhythm becomes too much to stand against and at which we point we win.

Thanks for reading today and I look forward to speaking to you again soon. If you want to gain a greater understanding of the martial arts experience give me a call on 0800 0920948 and get our full brochure or take advantage of our FREE 30 day membership by calling the number or go to and book online.

Best wishes

Tony Higo
Chief Instructor
National Martial Arts College
0800 092 0948

1 comment:

  1. I like this very thing I'd add if I may, 'practice doesn't necessarily make perfect...only perfect practice makes perfect.' If you practice a technique incorrectly you only end up with a well learned but poor technique. My teacher drilled that into my head alot. As Yip Man taught - 'there are no secrets in wing chun, only practice'
    Something all students should remember when they don't feel like giving full concentration or effort to training.