Here's Nick receiving his black belt yesterday, after his successful test. Even before he tested, he had to submit two essays on martial arts topic for approval. Here they are:
VITAL SPOTS & THEIR USES
What are vital spots? Vital spots are the unprotected parts of your body. They are also more sensitive than other parts therefore you are caused more pain when you are hit in a vital spots.
The main reason for martial artists to know vital spots is so they can get away from a fight before they get hurt too much. Martial artists use vital spots because we're not in a fight to hurt somebody, we're in a fight because we were attacked and we want to get away as soon as possible. This means we hit somebody so we can run away before we get hurt too much. I know that sounds like cowardice, but "He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day." Also vital spots are different with different weapons (empty hand, blunt weapons, etc...). With a blunt weapon, you would aim for the bony parts of the body, such as skull, top of the hand, knee, or top of the foot. But with something with a sharp edge, say a sword or dagger, you would aim for the fleshy parts, such as stomach, bicep, or thigh. With empty hand you can aim for both. If you're using a palm strike you aim for blunt weapon vital spots, but if you're using a punch, you aim for the sharp weapon vital spots. This may make vital spots sound confusing but you only need to know the main ones, such as: solarplex, shin, chin, nose, and ear.
What is meditation? There are at least two different kinds of meditation, but martial artists only use one. The kind we use is used to stimulate chi or ki (energy*).
When meditating, you are supposed to clear your mind and relax. But there's more to meditating than sitting down and closing your eyes. There is a proper way to meditate and an improper way to do it. The proper way is to sit up straight, have your hands palm up in a giving/receiving position, with your tongue at the roof of your mouth. Breathe in seven counts, hold it four counts, breathe out seven counts, hold it out four counts. Also when meditating, you should breathe through your lower diaphragm, meaning when you breathe in, your stomach inflates and when you breathe out, your stomach deflates.
Meditation is to relax your mind, but also to focus your body. When you meditate before your martial arts practice, it will help you loosen up even though your body is still focused. This combination of relaxation and focus is what you need to stay calm so you're able to keep control of your movements and aim your strikes.
*Chi is important to martial artists because it helps us focus but it also is our energy, and how would we defend ourselves without energy?