The Link Between Ballroom Dancing and Martial Arts

While some might think ballroom dancing and martial arts are as different as night and day, the truth is the two art forms have much more in common than one might assume. Both obviously require many hours of practice and concentration, but beyond that, both share many of the same core principles.

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The first of those principles is the dichotomy of compliance versus resistance. In ballroom dancing, there is usually a lead partner and a following partner, but both strive for complete synergy so that they can express themselves as one in time with the music. Compliance and resistance show up in martial arts training as well, the focus here being on controlling a resisting subject with various techniques learned while training. While martial arts tend to be competitive and combative, when you train with another person, you’re using many similar body control tactics as you vacillate between compliance and resistance.

Secondly, both art forms utilize another’s energy to complete motions and various interactions. In ballroom dancing, the lead lifts his arm to start the follower into a spin, but the lead does not complete the entire spin with the strength of his arm. It is up to the follower to take the force she is given, let it flow into energy that moves through her body, and then use her own body strength to complete the turn. A similar phenomenon happens in partner based martial arts – instead of the attacker using excess muscle and energy to take down an adversary, they utilize the attacker’s energy so that every movement has maximum efficiency. For example, a martial artist positions their body so that it is in the strongest place, replaces the adversary’s center with their own, and, subsequently, strikes or manipulates the target in a way that will put that target off balance.

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Finally, in both ballroom dancing and martial arts, to be the most effective partner, you must leave no options for the “other…” In ballroom dancing, if someone is new to the dance, they may not be as responsive to cues, or may try to initiate a different move that their partner is not prepared for. As a lead partner, you can remedy this by not leaving your follower any other option but to follow you. In martial arts, your main objective is to throw your opponent off balance, or to lock up their joints to the point that they have no other option but to fail. You can do this a number of ways – striking, grappling, etc. – in any case, it’s always about leaving them no options.

With these similarities in mind, I suggest that anyone interested in martial arts training also consider looking into dance classes on the side. Any form of dance will help you hone the strengths and confront the limitations of your own body, and ballroom dancing seems uniquely helpful in the ways I’ve described.

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The Downfall of Modern Wheat

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The food that used to be at the heart of many diets for thousands of years, bread, is now considered ‘poisonous’ by many health experts because of the gradual modification of wheat.

Nowadays, it’s very common to hear terms like “gluten-free” and “celiac’s disease” thrown around, and a lot of people I come across are skeptical. “Bread’s been around forever so how can it be bad?” they say. “Our ancestors never had bread-related digestive issues or diseases. I bet all this talk about gluten is just a bunch of new age nonsense.”

The truth, however, is that there’s a very good reason why these problems didn’t arise until relatively recently – the wheat we eat today is a far cry from the wheat we ate in the past, even as few as 60 or 70 years ago. The food industry has developed new ways of processing wheat that strip away all nutritious components (such as bran and germ) and leave only starchy carbs and highly refined flour that has contributed to huge spikes in blood sugar in many consumers.

Wheat and bread have also changed because they are prepared differently now. Bread used to be baked by soaking, sprouting, and fermenting wheat and then baking the bread with slow rise yeast. This fermenting process is where a lot of the benefits of bread came from, like increased amino acid lysine and reduced anti-nutrients such as phytic acid, lectins and enzyme inhibitors. Today, however, our flour is not fermented but bleached, and our bread is baked with quick rise yeast to save time and money.

But wait, there’s more. Beyond the processing and the preparation, the plants themselves have changed! Older, highly nutritious varieties of wheat like Emmer, Einkorn and Kamut have fallen by the wayside, replaced by various versions of high-yield dwarf wheat. This plant came about from genetic modification in the 1960s, and its concentrations of zinc, copper, iron, and magnesium are about 28% lower than non-modified wheat of the past. Scientists have confirmed through samples that soil has not changed over the years – the decrease in nutrients comes only from the modification of the wheat itself.

Celiac disease indicates that a person has a severe form of gluten intolerance. The reality is these intolerances have always been around; they just were never an issue until modern bread started containing higher amounts of problematic glutens. In fact, none of us are meant to be consuming as much gluten as we do now.

Unhealthy breads are now ubiquitous, and it’s increasingly hard to find older bread strains like Einkorn. The safest bet is to make bread yourself, or leave wheat out of your diet completely. All of the nutrients I’ve mentioned that used to be found in bread can now be found in other foods, so you won’t be starving your body of anything it really needs if you give up wheat entirely.  Try eating more vegetables instead – they are far more nutritious, and far less toxic!

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