The power of music
Music is a very powerful training tool. Listening to the right sounds can make the difference between a lackluster workout and an intense one that leads us to overcome our limits.
Music can be used for:
- Choose our mood – Condition our mood (eg. in relation to the initiation or not of a training session in the case we are previously victims of a negative emotional event)
- Mitigate the weight of the effort – Especially when we have not yet developed the right self-discipline, it can allow us to do not feel part of the fatigue, pain or lack of breath that many exercises require
- Imposing an intense and constant training rhythm – Give us a pace that otherwise, voluntarily, we probably would not reach (or we would not think of keeping constant, read Intensity of training: depends on what?)
- Learn to control times and spaces – Teach us to follow a rhythm (if we can not follow the rhythm of a piece of music, how can we think of adapting and / or imposing our own to the unstable and broken one of a good opponent?)
- Developing coordination and the muscle chain – Instinctively learn to involve all the elements of our body (read Use the body power: the muscle chain) in movements of struggle and displacement (to divide the effort or express the maximum power)
Note – Someone can feel embarrassed in combining music and martial arts if not bothered by the idea of using musical genres not related to him but, in this sense, we really have to make an effort: to give up such a portentous instrument is simply silly; if we are able to suffer the pains of conditioning, the physical injuries of sparring, the constancy required by daily meditation… what can be, for a serious practitioner, to overcome such a small obstacle?
Which music to use in relation to our goals
Given the great emotional influence of music is a serious mistake not to select and divide the music we want to use in areas of application. Starting a mixture of indistinct pieces (sad, exhilarating, etc.) means entrusting the quality of our martial preparation to chance.
We have to create various playlists of music (as much as possible that we love):
- With progressive emotional excursions – To start training with good energies and for exercises with purposes related to power and / or speed (for this purpose epic / dramatic / heroic music is absolutely perfect)
- With rhythmic and repetitive percussions – They are good for warm-up exercises, symmetric training drills, dynamic stretching and eventually sparring (eg. Thai traditional music, Japanese taiko drums, etc.)
- With slow, calm and ambient gait – It’s adapt for meditation, slow practice of forms / sequences, standing stamina, stretching, regeneration and relaxation sessions (eg. Chinese traditional music, oriental traditional flutes, sounds of nature, etc.)
- With high-speed gait – To reach the maximum explosive power and speed in “short” sessions focused on peak performances (eg. music with high BPM)
Let’s do not forget that like any type of self-conditioning (read Fighting and mind control: the anchors), music, with the time loses its power: we will therefore have to keep our playlists updated by removing and adding songs in order to maintain their effectiveness.
The music to avoid
What we need is an accompaniment, not a distraction.
Not all music, however beautiful, catchy or meaningful it is, is suitable for a martial training. What we must avoid is:
- Negative moods – Music that reminds us of negative or inappropriate memories / emotions / feelings (eg love stories ended badly, traumas, moments of anger, ridiculous situations, etc.)
- Too addictive – Excessively involving music, that which diverts our attention from the focus of the exercise we are doing (eg. songs with high-quality lyrics)
- Off topic – Music rhythmically / conceptually far from what we are doing (eg. ambient music while we are doing skip)
- Apathetic music – Music that communicates emotional states that limit our effectiveness (apathy, boredom, malaise, desolation, sadness, frustration, etc.)
- Sequences of songs thematically disconnected – Tracks too far / inconsistent one in relation to each other (eg. a very fast one after very slow)
- Nagging songs – Music too repetitive or specifically designed to settle in the mind and not go out (eg. the classic refrains that torment us even when it is not our mind to call them)
By following these simple tips we take shelter from unexpected exists during our daily practice. Naturally, this does not mean to stop listening to what “violates” these guidelines but simply to do it at other more appropriate times.
When music is not needed
Silence is golden.
Not always a background music is necessary, indeed, there are moments of training in which the music is inadvisable, harmful and even counterproductive:
- When we do something dangerous – If we are not sure what we are doing, it is better to avoid the use of emotional alterers, especially, when we practice exercises that involve risks to our safety (acrobatics, sparring, use of weapons, etc.)
- When we are already in an altered emotional state – The wrong music can act as an amplifier (of anger, euphoria, etc.) and lead us to do things that are harmful to us and others (eg, carry beyond our limits of flexibility, power, speed, resistance, etc.)
- When we need maximum concentration – If we have to perform complex activities, in most cases the best results can be obtained only through silence (eg. executing a new technique, a difficult exercise, during an explanation, during the study, etc.)
- When we perform sensory training – Unless the exercise requires it (eg. in terms of disturbance), when we train the senses (especially the hearing) is completely wrong to leave music even at a low volume level
- When we practice (advanced level) meditation – Although in the early stages of approaching 6DKF’s meditation having the right background music is useful and positive, as our level of awareness increases, we must learn to practice without any external help (in order to reach the higher levels of abstraction)
- Music does not have to become a constant in our training – The use of music is a good thing when it helps us to train better, it becomes a limit if we arrive at the point of not being able to train without it
- Let’s avoid headphones – In 90% of cases it’s wrong to wear headphones, they do not allow us to listen to the noises of the environment (a crucial ability), our breathing and our heartbeat (very deleterious)
Go beyond the music
Not all people perceive the sensory stimuli in the same way (we’ll talk more in detail later):
- Some perceive the sound in a tactile way (vibrations, shivers, pulsations, etc.)
- Some dwell on meanings (words, significances, emotions, etc.)
- Some correlate sounds with visual aspects (memories, color sequences, images, etc.)
In the choosing of our tracks we must open our mind to the various musical genres and, according to the way we react and interpret them, choose the ones that give us the most value:
- We can choose video clips if we are more attracted by engaging images
- We can opt for songs with logical sentences combined with meaningful lyrics if we prefer logical stimulations
- We can look for music characterized by a strong use of bass if we are looking for tactile stimuli (eg. dance music)
- We can look for technically elaborated pieces if we highlight the virtuous and complex sequences (eg. solos of electric guitar, etc.)
The best thing is to do not to have prejudices towards the various musical genres because, objectively, this drastically reduces the advantages that we can gain using this portentous training tool.
Author: Master Kongling
Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.