Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Using Martial Posture to Survive Your Job

I live and work outside every day, rain or shine. Lately I've been thinking more about proper alignment in work dynamics as extending my 'shelf life" as a guy that works with his hands every day. Martial arts training has been a huge help. The stretching, posture and general body awareness is key to staying strong and healthy in a hard-labor job.
Many times I've seen young strong guys that work-out at gyms hire on as laborers. You give them a shovel and they go at it like crazy - for the first forty-five minutes. Then they look at you and wonder how you can keep going all day long. The key is obviously pacing yourself and keeping the workload close to your center - much like controlling your opponent in a grappling situation.

Safe ladder work is a major survival skill. I know people that have been injured from a three-foot fall. You can easily get killed if you land badly in a fall, or fall on dangerous objects. I am doing tree work this time of year, and I'm on tall ladders and in the trees around five hours a day. The first thing is to be confident that your ladder is secure. Then, you must be extremely aware of balance, posture, and how your movement affects the ladder. Once again, being aware of your center, and "joining" with the ladder like you would when engaging and throwing an opponent is the key. Additionally, ladder work often means reaching overhead all day long. That's why you're on the damned ladder. One time in a push-hands class, my instructor could hear the arthritis in my shoulder. He reminded me to drop my shoulders, not lift and extend them up. Even when I reach up, I try to keep my shoulders in their proper working range. If I can't reach the object I'm working on, I need another tool or taller ladder. This has been extremely important and hopefully will allow me to continue without fatigue and damage to the joints.

But you say; "Hey RatMan, I work in a stinkin' office and wear the monkey suit every day - how does this affect me?"
Well, there is always the workplace confrontation. In cases like this, it doesn't help to argue and butt heads. Think of the principles of good Aikido, attempt to blend with the opponent. Make them find a point that you can both agree on and move on to resolve the conflict from a mutual viewpoint.
Remember, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinager...

If you have any stories of how martial arts has helped you at work (aside from a fight) let us know!


Toldain said...

I've incorporated a lot of my Tai Chi into driving. I found that I was gripping the wheel very tightly, and draping my upper body on the wheel, hanging myself from it.

Chen Man Ching used to say, "Hang yourself on me, and I will throw you away like a piece of meat." So I decided to fix it.

So when I drive I use the neutral position - "sitting post" as it were. My fingers grip the wheel lightly, and never support the weight of even my arms. My torso, down to the hips. And I try to root by tailbone into the seat during acceleration, braking and turns.

I feel better after a long drive, and it's good practice.

Charles James said...

Hi, DR: Recognizing the monkey brain reaction when someone says or does something stupid allows me to breathe deeply, take a moment, and then compose a response that benefits both of us...mostly...then there are those occassions ..... ;-)