• Mike McNulty

The Inverse Relationship to Movement Feb 20, 2020

"In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.”

Leonardo da Vinci

Pure genius...

This very statement is the essence of understanding the importance of inverse relationships for combat because he's talking about how what we understand at the moment what is going on is a matter of perspective and our ability to change perspectives allows us to arrive at a different understanding.

Is the water flowing towards you rushing by or flowing away?

Depends, depends, depends...

What he states above reveals the relative nature of Time (time/space) and how we experience and perceive it from different vantage points.

For the past is gone the future yet to come and the only thing that exists at that moment is the present and even that doesn't really exist or only exists but for a fleeting moment and then it's gone.  The past informs on the present and the possible future, and the future shaped by the actions in the present is created to some extent. By looking back at the past which enables you to connect the dots based on your knowledge and experience, creating in the present what you need, and on it goes. And it is all as da Vinci points out happening at the same time.

For those who are fans of Leonardo da Vinci then you will agree that he was far more brilliant than even history gives him credit for. The man can be said to be the father of the tank and helicopter as well as dozens of other brilliant inventions. But in my mind beyond art and science, his true brilliance was in his ability to see what can't be seen with the eyes. To see with his mind and to be able to distill down complex things to their essence making them simple to understand.  This, in my mind, is a major quality of what we call or define as "genius".

Sort of like a few rules we have in Warrior Flow which are,

Rule No 1: Don't teach what you don't know...

Rule No 2: If you can't explain it, demonstrate it, show how it works, etc., then you don't know it...

Rule No 3: Observe Rule No 1...

Leonardo da Vinci probably spoke more on the essence of learning and "how to do things", than any man in his time. and considering his many accomplishments I'd have to say he probably knew a thing or two about what he was talking about when he opened his mouth.

So... in this post, I'm going to rely on his sage words because he really nails it when it comes to how to shift your thinking.  I’ve discussed this before so what I’m going to do here is over the next few posts I’m going to break this down to make it easier for me to explain and hopefully so that I don't confuse folks as to what I'm saying here.

Also, so I don't get accused of breaking Rule No 1.

"Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation ... even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind. ”

Leonardo da Vinci

So while this obviously requires that you practice this skill without understanding how and what to practice you just can't get there from here because there is a mental aspect as to how this works. You see, in order to understand this, you have to be able to see it in your mind first because as you progress in this understanding this skill. Only then will you will realize that the Inverse Relationships to Movement can be found all over the place.

This, in my view, is what separates the great athletes in their movement from everyone else. They not only move more efficiently than everyone else but in sports such as boxing, kickboxing, wrestling, football, soccer, basketball, etc., they are also able to play off of and use the movement and even position of others relative to their own body.

They are able to do this because they literally think differently in how they think about how to move in their own bodies. They also, and this is important, are able to take stock of their physical skills and leverage what they already have without becoming overly reliant on it, and either develop what they don't have or at least find a way to overcome any limitations they may have. Mostly by not trying to do things they can't do in the first place and focusing on building those things they can and not allowing themselves to get into situations where they can't win. Sun Tzu, spoke on this sort of thing all of the time and what was true then is true today.

Now when I’m talking about playing off of the movement of others it is not just limited to the notion of using someone else’s energy against them as you see in the grappling arts or but recognizing the relationships in all things.

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast. ”

Leonardo da Vinci

[Obligatory Editorial Comment: I gotta tell you and I know I've said it before but it blows my mind how little emphasis some folks in the martial arts pay to the importance of how the human body functions on even the most basic level when it comes to fighting. No theory no learning. It's really that simple. Listen, I don't give a shit what you train, I really don't so unless you can convince me there's a better way to kick someone in the balls it's all the same to me. Now, if you can move better than other people at what you do within the known universe and how the human body actually moves and not based on some contrived bullshit.  It is a huge advantage. Why anyone would not want to understand how to move better is beyond me. The main function of your brain is to move your body. The one thing you need to be able to do in a real fight for your life is to move your body and the more efficiently and deliberately the better. And the last time I checked you ain't moving your brain without your body because they're really one and the same. So since you've got to carry it around you might as well use it. Yet, the notion of how the body interacts with others within time and space and training in a way to get ahead of the bad guys and crush them is almost nonexistent. I don't get it.]

Now everyone in the martial arts unless you were just born five minutes ago is familiar with the duality of Yin/Yang. Great concept and I believe what the ancients were really talking about on some level this duality or inverse relationship of how humans interact with each other.

When you move and you understand the inverse relationships you are able to get ahead of the other guy's movement because if you both move ta the same time you are able if you’re timing is right to move half the distance of the other person. But this takes training and timing to accomplish.

There Are Only Opportunities

“The primary thing when you take a sword in your hands is your intention to cut the enemy, whatever the means..."

― Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

The idea of “luck” has been described as “where preparation meets opportunity”. If you are to master the inverse relationships and take advantage of them then you need to develop a mindset that only seeks opportunities. But in order to do that you have o first recognize them for what they are. This is why on my last blog post I discussed the importance of training to recognize things soon enough to take action on them.  the idea is to train time in such a manner to buy you time.

In all that you do, in order to develop your powers of Perceptual Awareness, Deception, etc., to make everything a weapon especially time and space, as Musashi says, " cut the enemy, whatever that means..." When this understanding ingrained or built into your every movement, there is no need to think about it because it's already happening within movement.

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating, to understand this concept you have to look at the situation where for you the glass is always half full. Too many folks only look at the negative and so they ask the wrong questions and get the wrong answers. For them, the glass is always half empty. They only see what can't be done and not what is also possible. This is a terrible mistake and one made often and has hobbled more people’s abilities than anything.

Don’t be that guy!

More Yin / Yang

Okay, this is wild…

"All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions. ”

Leonardo da Vinci

When reading this you really need to get out of your own way. You see when we discussing the inverse relationship to movement I'm talking about an entirely different thought process I'm talking about CREATIVITY or a form of it.

Again, it’s been my experience that people who are CREATIVE whether, in music, art, science, business and of course the martial arts literally look at the world through a different pair of eyes. They could be looking at the same thing that everyone else is looking at and where people only see one possibility they see 10,000 possibilities.

This is the reason why when doing this to someone to the person it is happening to it seems as if it comes out of “the ether” or “the void”. That's because in my mind I am already there. So, even if you are only mentally ahead of their movement, none the less, you were in essence already there. Like I said this is an entirely different way of thinking.

Many people, by the way, are doing this but they don’t know it so as a result, they can’t take advantage of it because they don’t even know they’re doing it.

"Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it. ”

Leonardo da Vinci

When dealing with the Inverse Relationship to Motion a key is understanding the canceling effects of using the Inverse to Motion since as I said in previous posts it collapses time and space for the other person. People talk about this stuff in the martial arts all of the time and the problem is they limit the concept to just dealing with stepping out of the way or just using another person’s force against them if they push or pull, but the truth is these opportunities are all over the place.

The key is retraining the way you think about motion in order to take advantage of it. however, there is a timing, level of anticipation, adumbration to all of this and how it works as well as how human reaction time works. Without an understanding of time and how to train yourself to build in the skills to the subconscious competence level you cannot get there from here because you will never learn to recognize things soon enough to take action.

Once you start thinking in this fashion you will see that these opportunities are in our face all of the time. The hard part is developing the patience and timing in order to do it.

What I’m going to do here is present just a few basic concepts because there is no way to present the almost infinite opportunities to do this.

This by the way “is” the way in which you learn to move less than the other person and cut off their movement even if they are moving much faster than you are.

Peeling Back The Layers (How The Universe Works Part 11,004)

"Learning never exhausts the mind. ”

Leonardo da Vinci

Now, believe it or not, there are folks who think this cannot be done at high speed.  Not true! I guess they’ve never been to a baseball game before and saw a guy hit a 90 mph fastball coming towards him. As I said, all you have to do is time when to strike since this, in essence, is no different than hitting a baseball when it is pitched.

As a side note part of the reason that people do not believe that this can be done in this fashion. This is because their idea of striking is based on thinking they have to line up as if they are dueling to strike with power, but the truth is as long as you strike within the natural range of motion and control your body you can strike in virtually any position. Now are some positions better than others? Sure but in a fight for your life, you have to sometimes take what you can get.

How to Practice

"Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it... ”

Leonardo da Vinci

Okay, here we go...

For the next week or so all I want you to do is to focus on doing this simple exercise. This will begin the process of reorienting how you perceive movement. The key here is just as you learned how to "mirror" the movements of another person playing sports or avoid someone when you played tag as a kid or sparred in martial arts, you can learn how to do this. Because on some level you already do. You just need to focus on it so that it becomes a subconscious competence or purposeful habit.

In your mind or through movement practice moving in the opposite direction of the other person. To see the inverse relationships as well as opportunities to strike.

If they move left, in your mind it should be no different than if you moved to the right. So you should be thinking about what you would do if you stepped to the right such as throwing a strike or whatever.

If they move towards you in your mind it should be no different as if you moved towards them. So you should be thinking about how you would strike them on the way in and anticipate their movement and strike.

Now if they move back... in your mind, you should think of it as no different than if you stepped to a better position from which to either enter and strike from or to anticipate their movement in order to strike them.

Notice I didn't say "as if you stepped back as well"?

It's because this is a way of thinking and not just moving your body. The movement part of developing your body is the easy part. It's what you do when you move that counts! This also prevents you from thinking of being defense or looking at the glass as being half full which is totally the wrong way to think.

In other words, the question you want to ask is, "Did he step there on me or did I allow him to go there?"

How you answer the question is significant because how you answer it influences how you will move. Period.

Also, keep in mind that your movement, heck even the position and attitude of your body also influences how they move. How you move because you're always playing off each other especially once engaged, influences your actions because you cannot "not" feel where they are and vice versa. The key is in order for them to deal with this their mind has to on some level understand this and how it works but then they need to train to do it.

Final Thoughts Because It Needs To Be Said

While I'm obviously oversimplifying this once you get the hang of it it’s really not a hard thing to do. The hard part is as your eyes open to the possibilities. Managing all of the choices it presents because virtually every movement can be to your advantage as long as you have a mindset as if the glass is always half full.

Once you begin to understand a little bit more about motion and how to deal with it, you then need to understand that there is an "Inverse Relationship" to moving with another person, a “cause and effect” that you have on their motion and their motion has on you and/or others who may be involved at a given time in the battle. This is the essence of how to negate the movement of others even when they are doing the “right thing”.

My friend I'm going to say it outright if you get this understanding and begin to work it, it will have an exponential effect on your skills regardless of where you are or what you do as a warrior. This understanding has the effect of negating, countering, shaping and redirecting multiple movements simultaneously within the same amount of time to accomplish one movement.

Okay, I’m going to cut this off right here because I wanted to just give you this exercise to begin to develop this. It’s really simple yet hard so you've got to practice it.

In the next installment, I'll get into this in a little more detail and show some no so obvious stuff.


P.S. for those who want to learn more about how to develop this type of movement.

Check Out Our New E-Learning Training!


Al Ridenhour

CEO, Creator Warrior Flow™

Al Ridenhour is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the US Marine Corps with 28-years of service active and reserve with multiple combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. He has also served as a Law Enforcement consultant to the NJ State Police Special Operations Section, NJ Transit Police Operations Section, The NJ Regional Operations and Intelligence Center, the FBI Philadelphia Bomb Section, and subject matter expert to the US Department of Homeland Security's, Explosives Division. With nearly 40-years of Combative Arts experience, he is recognized as a self-defense expert worldwide and is highly sought out for seminars, workshops, lectures, and special individualized training.  He is the author of "Warrior Flow Mind" (2020), Co-Author of "Attack Proof: The Ultimate Guided in Personal Protection (Human Kinetics, 2010) and the Co-Author of "How to Fight for Your Life" (June 2010).
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