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Free Diving and Martial Arts

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Do Freedivers Practice Martial Arts ?

  • No Martial Arts

    Votes: 20 41.7%
  • Judo

    Votes: 2 4.2%
  • Ju-Jitsu

    Votes: 4 8.3%
  • Aikido

    Votes: 7 14.6%
  • Karate (all styles)

    Votes: 7 14.6%
  • Kendo

    Votes: 2 4.2%
  • Iaido

    Votes: 1 2.1%
  • Hisardut

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Fencing

    Votes: 1 2.1%
  • Tai-Chi

    Votes: 2 4.2%
  • Kung-Fu

    Votes: 2 4.2%

  • Total voters
star wars

>I did capoeira with freediving for a while and it felt good... A well trained body can't hurt when freediving i guess.

Anybody into martian arts then?

taijiquan here - 'old yang style'. Also about 30 years of hatha Yoga - mostly emphasizing Taiji lately however. I would say asana work in yoga is more comparable to 'external' styles of martial art in that it works from the outside in. (of course there are different approaches - but in general) While pranayam and taijiquan work from the inside out. Taiji - in my opinion, starts from a more difficult yet essential principal in that one is immediately working with the 'energy body' and awareness at least as much as with mechanics and physical manipulation. From the onset it is less mechanical - but, of course, yoga is movement toward this as well.
Originally posted by Fondueset
Taiji - in my opinion, starts from a more difficult yet essential principal in that one is immediately working with the 'energy body' and awareness at least as much as with mechanics and physical manipulation

Let me also add here that it balances the always present forces of Yin & Yang.
Impact on Freediving - Taiji

In many cases external styles of martial art work to bring the adrenals online as a source of speed, power etc. This can be helpful in that it enables a degree of control over an instinctive response to danger that can burn tremendous resources very quickly. However - as a conditioned resonse to stressful situations as in 'type A' behavior - its not what we want for freediving. (not that external MA practice necessarily does this).
In Taiji the response to stress is an allways deepening letting go. The movements of Taiji are more a form of 'deconditioning' - eliminating dysfunctional patterns - than of imposing new patterns over against what allready is. One form this takes is releasing the felt sense of the body and it's peripheries into the space in which it arises - such that there is an expansion of awareness and integration of the senses which are then experieced as a sort of symphonic whole - with emphasis on qualities like 'flow' and simultinaity - awareness moves in the space between things and in which they arise - as distinct from our usual tendancy to operate digitally - clipping from apparent object to object. Functionally this enables movement with minimal expendeture and a tremendous ease and acuity of awareness.

I don't say external arts, or the kind of conditioning they employ are necessarily counter-productive - only that the dimension of awareness which is the essential principal in an art like Taijiquan (also Yoga - if you can get past all the showing off) is most often neglected in our conditioned bias toward the digital/mechanical aspect. We tend to view such things as a kind of accumilation/expendature - whereas the perspective Taiji represents is closer to reduction or opening/communion. It avails itself of a greater range of human energetic potential.
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You know, swimming was also considered an essential skill of the Japanese samurai and was aproached with the same energy as the more martial aspects of their training. Ninja in particular were known for swimming skills including apnea swimming if it got them to their goals.

Personally, I think that it is natural to find comparisons between swimming skills and martial arts, or more accurately, Asian religious practices.

I also think that after spending a decade and a half as a youngster and a young adult going through swimming training as rigorous as any martial arts course - 3 hours in the am from 4 to 7:30 and 3 hours in the pm from 3:30 to 6:30 plus stretching and wieght training. 4500yds or more per hour.... hypoxic training, IM and stroke training, turns and starts, Olympic coaches and serious competition....it is natural that such immersion in an effort would lead to religious perspectives.

I also did martial arts of various kinds as a kid and a young adult and the parallels were always present. The physical training from a rigorous 11 month competitive swimming club made me a match for most other atheletes including a lot of sparring partners. I did learn about calming down, containing my emotions and focusing on the target but the fact is, swimming had already taught me all of that. I fought at tournements, often in open divisions, and did quite well for myself but most of the ethical and internal strength to compete came from swimming training and competition rather than martial arts which, instead, served to reinforce those understandings. Swimming was the core of my martial arts ability, not the other way 'round.

My point is that it isn't necessary to graft freediving onto some outside meditative practice. The art itself is teaching us how to do it, how to get better at it, how to avoid the dangers while expanding the experience, how to deal with our minds and our bodies.... the undertaking of Freediving itself is a path with its own rules and its own requirements. While it might work well to hybridize certain breathing patterns like Ibukai or TanTien techniques from various systems of fighting and meditation, it may work even better to let the art of Freediving itself teach us what it will about physiology, psychology and metaphysics. We will create specific breathing patterns, meditations, spiritual understandings, etc. If we develop as a community, and we are, that will already be in play as I write this

The experience of sliding off a small boat, miles from the big boat, into very deep blue water with no one around and being left to one's own devices is big enough and challenging enough to equal any staredown with some foul breathed, scruffy looking, pugilistic malcontent. You will learn as much or more about yourself trying to identify a large shadow in blue water as you will looking over cold steel...

There are as many paths to enlightenment as there are people to walk them, and I think Freediving can be a path to enlightenment all by itself. From it one can learn about chi and about breathing, about stilling the mind and listening, about integrating with one's environment, about compassion and humanity....there are no differences between this and any other bona fide Way.
Originally posted by lungfish
There are as many paths to enlightenment as there are people to walk them, and I think Freediving can be a path to enlightenment all by itself. From it one can learn about chi and about breathing, about stilling the mind and listening, about integrating with one's environment, about compassion and humanity....there are no differences between this and any other bona fide Way.

I disagree here relatively, that is Freediving can lead you to power because you will start to somehow develop your ego, which is a kind of attachment, and attachement my friend is the main barrier to higher spiritual practices, i.e. Enlightenment.

Unfortunately many people approach Taiji in a different way than it was intended to be, which was internal alchemy. A way of extrapolating consciousness to the diamond spirit that resides in all our hearts, which is pure and innocent, that of a Buddha onl;y tainted by Karma and ultimately Samsara (reincarnation process).

Taiji is approached in a different way more as a Martial Art and Health regime feeding our material instintc. Again promoting attachment to physical existence.

If you read this interesting article you'll see the true origins of this Chinese philosophical practice:


This article, on the other hand, describes the dangers of Qigong, Daoist art that should be approached very carefully:


Good luck,

Gerard :)
All practices can enhance the ego (and usually do). It is possible to enter into any enterprise from an egoic perspective.

Dragon style looks like very close to 'waving form' - good articles

A hard look at the most prominant taijiquan adepts is not a tour of saints. The reason Daoist and other Yogic practices are fraught with cautionary notes is they are engaged from the perspective of end-gaining - as means to attainment. Uninformed by the Heart they are subject to complex lower-order laws and the machinations of ostensible identity - which seeks to evade by attainment in support of the presumption of separation. Personality - like Confucious - endeavors to coral the incomprehensible and make it another bauble on a shrine to itself.

For most of the people on this board freediving is a far less contrived activity - engaged for the pure joy of it.

Daoism - perhaps more than any other tradition - esteems the uncontrived.

I do Taiji because of the amber color of sunlight reflected on pine needles.

I do pranayam because of the space between breaths.

I freedive because chicks dig the wet suit.
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"I freedive because chicks dig the wet suit"

Ha ha...alarm bells going off: "Fondueset derails into relativity" :D

Life is Bliss ...but not without women...

Zen joke: Disciple asks his Master: "How do freedivers gain enlightenment?" "By dropping their weightbelts."

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The issue of suppressing one's ego so that one can more directly experience and interact with reality is no different for freedivers who choose to engage it as an art or esoteric path than it is for martial artists or any other followers of a Way.

Regardless of whether one is arranging flowers, butchering meat, learning combat, designing computer code, practicing calligraphy or wrapping hamburgers, there is a potential for the pursuit of a Way.

The ego is the first enemy regardless of the activity. Freediving is no more or less vulnerable to this than any other practice.
Our talking about 'ego' really insinuates a whole universe of assumptions about what precisely that is - as though it were some discreet entity or process - which, of course, is precisely what 'it' wishes 'itself' to be.

Unchallenged then, in it's presumptive 'thinghood', ego is a process that seeks to 'freeze' into something quantifyable in terms of it's own action? Then take up various means to work 'it's' way out?
All the while comfortably lamenting it's 'thingness'.


So why take it personally?

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If freediving is mainly conceived as a soul pleasing activity why don’t freedivers start diving below the ocean surface far away from the land? Free like many of the ocean species, i.e. sea turtles, jellyfish, etc.

Taiji as a fighting form is approached from an ego-perspective, obviously anti-Dao, since one of the premises of Daoism is wu-wei, or the state of being without being noticed (which is obviously not my state every time I log into a discussion forum :))
Fighting definitively bumps your damn ego, product of a thinking and stubborn mind. Tame the horse and catch the monkey in order to suppress an egotistic existence.

All the best to all of you.
Indeed it is difficult to identify the root of ego and that is the dilemma. We experience its effects and perspectives but we can't see where it comes from.....

With regards to Gerardo's comment about being dropped far from shore, I think that is a logical progression. In my own experience, I have been dropped several kilometers from the boat in blue water and left alone. Did some fairly deep swims until I came to the reef. Swam all the way around it and back to the boat.... kind of challenging psychologically. I have done this several times and though it challenges the safety ethic of freediving, it is perfectly consistent with the philosophy underlying the idea of Freediving as a Way.

I recall being mesmerized as a youngster by a short fiction story of a man who found himself left at sea with his fins and a spear gun and who was eventually caught months later in a fishing net.... wish I could remember the name of that story and the author.

Appealed to both my inner swimmer and martial artist....

My main position is that the endeavor of deep swimming is an art form and has all the attributes of a valid Way of spiritual growth. One could measure that growth in many ways including long swims away from land, alone or in small groups.... no different in any way from Zen practices like Walking Meditation, or other studies. Proficiency might be measured in many ways, deep dives, long apnea, solo swims in blue water, drawing sustenance and life for long durations in the open water, etc....

I see a lot of similarities between competitive freediving and, say, archery. The parallels are striking on many levels.

In the midst of philosophical martial arts...

I participate in fencing. It is proven to be a very effective aerobic exercise, and it improves overall physical fitness. Your body is trained to a greater level of precise movement and anticipation. You are on your toes (so to speak) the entire time, parrying and avoiding your opponent's attack. At the same time, you must make plans for your own strategy. You may retreat, advance, attack, or feint. Your awareness and quickness improves. As to how this helps with diving, the exercise probably improves your vascular health and physical condition.
I think fencing has many attributes that are useful to the Freediver. Of course the obvious benefits include cardio and reflex. Less obvious benefits include a strategic sense that might be very useful when engaged in stalking fish for pics, or hunting them for food. The ability to time actions in a strategic fashion, including knowing when to commit and when to sacrifice.

Fondueset sez he's got no approach but the chicks dig the wetsuit.... amen bro. There is an appeal at all levels.

Seriously though, the act and thought and practice of Freediving and related exercises like static and dynamic apnea practice during pool training sessions and all the other things we do to be better Freedivers, to give us the chance to deep swim is THE APPROACH. Just doing it is most of the battle.

One of my teachers used to say:

Having a good day? Practice Karate.
Having a bad day? Practice Karate.
Raining and cold? Practice Karate.
Sunny and Hot? Practice Karate.

The point was that if you simply do it, you will be lead down the path. Only the ego cares when or if you train, or why you train. The enlightenment is in the practice, the doing.

Chicks dig that kind of talk....it makes you look deep and intelligent or something. Then you could score.
That would be cool - uh huh huh huh, uh huh huh huh
(thus spake Butthead..)
Yah. It's like; when your up there in your wetsuit giving a discourse on the Dao they think your cool.

But when your cruising along the bottom in the 'blue room' your are coolness itself - and 'they' can't even see you :cool: In fact - you can't even see yourself...

On the 'practice no matter what' thing - and I'm speaking as a person who does this - and has for all of my adult life. But I don't agree. This approach belongs to a certain time, place and person. Many teachers say it as a kind of adage- but the ones I've known and respected are not of that ilk.

It is a complex topic however and goes into some interesting, and difficult, psychological territory.
Originally posted by Fondueset
...... A hard look at the most prominant taijiquan adepts is not a tour of saints.

If I could I would of given you more karma just for this line, but the system tells me I have to "distribute it evenly".
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