Blocks and Openings- Shoulder joint health
In Tae Kwon Do , and many other martial arts, "blocks" are a movement using the arm or leg movements to protect the body from an incoming punch or kick. It is a form of self defense. A block is usually aligning a limb across a line of attack. In Kai we play with all kinds of movements that come naturally to the body including "throw" , "grab", "punch" and "block". The blocks are sometimes loosely guided into the arms and sometimes we work more with technique of setting up a stance with our feet and practice the form as taught through Tae Kwon Do ( or other forms of martial arts.). Both have their gifts.
Blocks may be "upward" , "downward", "inward", or "outward" . From a physical perspective this movement is a good way to develop strength and agility in the shoulder girdle, awakening balance in movement, body awareness of space/time of the arms/legs and more. The shoulders themselves are not designed to lift heavy weights, they are in fact designed for a wide range of movement, small detailed expressions and to push and pull to help the body do functional movements like opening doors, reaching for things, pulling on clothes or carrying ( not heavy) things. The blocks can be used to heal the shoulders through awareness. Practicing these movements and noticing "how does this feel?", "is there pain?", " can I move in the fullest range or is there tension?", "is there accuracy in the alignment of the bones to where I want them to go?" then adapting the movements speed and range of movement accordingly is a way to keep your dance going on even in the place of healing. Even if the only comfortable movement is super small, that is the starting place of movement without pain, each time will be different. It's a great place to begin. The shoulder joint needs this deep attention to keep it healthy and functioning through a lifetime.
Blocks can also function as a way to stimulate the "warrior" within and allow you some full out playful expression of power! ( think super heros) In a more real sense it's a way to energize saying "no" and practice setting boundries. Aligning your body communication with your thoughts and saying "no". Being able to manage ones time, energy, resources, and more mean being able to say "no" at times. This is great practice for will-power and inner strength!
There is also an opposite way to look at boundries and that is to recognize "self- imposed" boundries and mental blocks that inhibit healthy change. All of us have our comfort zone that we hang out in. The range of places we'll go, things we'll do, and ways of moving that we feel are comfortable ( not just physically by in all ways). This range generally decreases with age and some say is related to "getting older", less flexible, not seeing as much, not using as much of our brain....the list goes on and on. Self imposed boundries are all those thoughts that say " I can't". The possibilities that can open up in all aspects of life , when one recognizes a self imposed boundry, and can step into the tension of leaving it behind, is vast. Expanding our capacity to love, to stretch, to change, to create is a gift from this exploration.
One physical movement that is a counter movement to the block would be throwing up the arms in a "victory" posture and saying "yes"! This is a great movement to do when your thinking "no" about something and those thoughts are coming from self defeat. The body will literally follow in it's chemistry ( meaning the cortisol "stress" levels decrease and testosterone increase - the "leadership" or "risk taking" hormone) to the movement and by-pass the brain thoughts according to a Harvard Study on how posture and movements effect the brain. Try it out!!!
Practicing blocks in all directions, healing and strengthening into the shoulder joints, and also noticing where one is perceiving a threat ( that isn't really there) is all work worth the investment, ultimately opening up more comfort and freedom in the body and life!