Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fist of monkey

A while ago, on a podcast called Edumacation, I heard a story about a group of Shaolin monks showing great interest in a baby. The baby had thrown his hand very quickly and grabbed his dad's glasses right off his face. The monks were amazed and said the baby had "fist of monkey", in other words what they considered to be an innate ability for Kung Fu where the body was almost bypassing thought and instinctive springing into action.

The story really resonated with me.

Ever since he was young, Cédric was clumsy and diagnosed with low muscle tone and delays in gross and fine motor skills. To this day, at 7, he doesn't hold utensils properly, he's only slowly learning to twist things, his pincer grasp is very weak, he can jump up but not forward.
On the other hand, ever since he was very young, he's been lightning fast. He can shoot a hand forward and grab what he wants faster than Lucky Luke's shadow, he can move every part of his body independently yet simultaneously in different directions to stop you controlling him, say when you're trying to take a blood sample or an X-ray, he can stop you from tickling or kissing him.

Having now learnt the basics of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, I realize it goes even further than that. The Gracies developed brazilian Jiu Jitsu for self-defence, by perfecting techniques that use gravity, balance and the body's strengths and weaknesses so that even a small person could get out of fights or attacks unhurt. As it turns out, when he tries to stop you holding him in place, or tickling him, Cédric uses those exact techniques. He knows to use a certain grip to push you away and a different one to pull. He knows to swim out his arms when you try to hold him. He knows to "shrimp out" by pushing his bum out and using his legs to get out af a hold. He knows to grab one weak finger, rather than your whole hand or arm, and pull it back when trying to make you let go of him or of something he wants. He knows to tuck his chin down so we can't hold his head. He knows to wait a little when he's really stuck and shoot out when he feels an opening. His body just does all those things entirely instinctively.

As I write this, I realize it sounds like we make a habit of fighting with him or holding him in place... Not the case. We noticed most of this in everyday situations, trying to play with him, trying to stop him taking something he shouldn't, trying to take a blood sample, etc.
During the Christmas holidays,we had an opportunity to experience this a bit more. We took him for hyperbaric oxygen treatments for which we have to stay in a small container for 90mn. He decided he didn't want to be there and had to be restrained quite a bit and I realized just how strong, fast, flexible, and efficient he is. He even went in once with the technician because I was sick. We're talking about a tall strong man who was trained in Gracie Jiu Jitsu while in the military. And even he came out amazed at Cedric's use of techniques and his ability to get out of anything.

Ever since I heard the "fist of monkey" story, I have therefore felt like Cédric has that defensive instinct. And ever since then I have wondered how come. To me, there are three possible explanations.
1. He just has a talent. Some people are good at music, or sports, or poetry, or drawing. No reason why he couldn't just be good at martial arts.
2. Because autism is at least a part of who Cédric is, I can't help but analyze things through that lense. I wonder if the way his brain functions is responsible for this in some way. Maybe having less complex thoughts allows for a more direct use of his body; less rationalization and more animal instinct. Or the opposite. Some people and reasearch suggest that the brain of autistic children is over developed, and we know that many of them deal with sensory input differently. So maybe Cédric just has a way more developed sense of his body and how it moves.
3. Hubby has also suggested the possible influence of epigenetics. This is a theory that even within one generation, what parents have learned and practiced can pass on to their offspring. As his dad has been practicing martial arts for years, it's possible that Cedric is genetically predisposed for them.

All I know is that if ever he develops the attention span and interest to sit in a class and learn a martial art, he will be a force to be reckoned with!

A small PS to add a digiscrap layout which shows my little ninja (I journaled in French about his ability to sneak up on us unheard and his defense skills):

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like he has a talent that he can certainly excel with when the time is right!


Please share you thought with me!