Te the Healer
Te is an endorphin based martial art, as opposed to an adrenaline-based one. Here’s why that’s a good thing:
Te training has a similar effect on health and well-being as practicing yoga, with, quite literally, a standing shiatsu treatment thrown in. The constant stretching, rolling and pressure-point work found in Te practice aids our bodies to stay relaxed, open and limber, and helps to stimulate the immune system – This encourages robust good health and a greater sense of wellbeing, via the mechanisms described in brief further down.
Below; Pressure-point work on the wrist and inside of the elbow help to release tension in the arm, shoulder and flank – either short term tension (maybe caused by the persons aggression), or long-held tension (possibly caused by old injuries or long-term trickle-charging from life’s stresses). Te’s dynamic stretching and rolling combine with it’s pressure-point ‘releasing’ techniques to open up the body, releasing tension, toxins and long-held negativeties.
As experience is gained we become able to sense our partners ‘sticking-points’ and work through them together by slowing the technique down and asking the recipient to ‘relax and release’ through it, or by aiding them with some impromptu shiatsu.
Our own naturally produced stimulants, adrenaline and cortisol, are two of the greatest destructive forces in our lives, and stress (which both releases them and fuels more stress), can literally consume us from the inside out. The list of negative effects is long and depressing reading, here are just a few; Stress ages us prematurely by destroying telemeres, limiting our capacity to replace cells and renew ourselves. It raises blood pressure and causes heart-disease and circulatory problems. Chronically high stress levels, caused by day-to-day life or continual hard training, shut down the digestive tract, in the long-term causing things like IBS, obesity, cancers and other alimentary problems. It can cause impotency in males and frigidity in females, along with cancers in the procreative organs. Stress also darkens our emotional landscape and can lead to over-aggressive, paranoid (fear-based), thinking and responses, which makes relationships of all kinds difficult. This is just a short list, the full one is much more impressive.
A big adrenaline release (such as in a life threatening situation), also shuts down the pre-frontal lobes and neo-cortex (the main parts of our higher-mind), inhibiting our ability to think clearly under pressure. This should be obviously undesirable to a martial artist, and yet, because of adrenaline soaked training regimes, too many arts encourage this state, viewing ‘tapping into’ our animal side as ‘productive’ in a fight (and of course the training is ‘exciting’ – adrenaline is a highly addictive stimulant). In the short term, and against only one opponent, this may hold some truth, but against multiple opponents the narrowing of attention that these states cause is likely to get one killed. In the longer-term it produces severe negative side-effects, both physical and psychological.
However, all is not lost. Endorphins are our natural counter-agents to our own stress hormones, they bring us relaxation and calmness. Relaxation encourages healthy blood-flow and digestive transit, and eases muscular pain and pressure on joints. Calmness brings self-control and aids us in thinking clearly and making better life-decisions. It helps us to better control our emotions and improve our relationships. These things combine to increase the useful, active and enjoyable part of our time in this world.
Endorphin rich training regimes such as Te or yoga help to maintain the dominance of the higher-mind in high-stress situations, which is just one reason why Zen meditation, and zazen, are used so extensively in the martial arts.
Te, shiatsu and yoga training all encourage an internal development that can only be described as a ‘spiritual’ Way (a path to ‘Enlightenment’), where the mind and body are fully integrated, with the super-ego (which is compassionate), and the higher mind (our intellect), in charge rather than the baser emotions.
Summary to this set of articles;
Taking all the above into account, it doesn’t make sense to train at something which increases stress levels and adrenaline release in order to defend ourselves or stay fit – it’s self defeating.
So, assuming that we want to learn a martial art, with all the perceived pro’s, but none of the cons’, and that we also want to lead a long, healthy and happy life, ‘what’s not to like?’ Okinawan Te is possibly the most comprehensive and effective of all the arts, while at the same time remaining one of the simplest and most beneficial to learn.