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A soft touch

Take a look at this 20 second video of Bruce Lee performing a 2 finger pushup. Aside from the amazing strength and body control, notice the grace. Each movement is executed with control. There is no strain or tension. His body moves as one. Notice how cleanly he stands after the exercise. His feet move as if walking on water.  No stomping, no unnecessary noise.

A simplified definition of a professional is someone who makes an action look  easy. They give the illusion that they aren't trying hard. There is limited strain or tension, just grace. Bruce Lee's 2 finger pushup embodies this. The lightness of his movement masks the tremendous amount of strength and control he has.

I describe it as a strong soft touch. It's a paradox. A soft touch that requires a lot of strength. Consider a regular two handed pushup. For most, it's a matter of going down and  up. There is no rhythm, no attention to the breath, arms, or chest. Just do it and move on. Not a lot of strength required. You do the exercise just to do it. And thus you get limited benefits from the exercise and you even risk injury from poor form.

Yet consider a normal pushup with the elegance of Bruce  Lee's 2 finger pushup. Body moves in a fluid down and up motion. There is control. There is breathing. There is focus on form and the muscles compressing and expanding. You get the full benefit of the exercise by doing it with purpose and focus. Such control requires focus and strength. In order to appear effortless or soft on the surface, you must have a foundation of strength.

This is a mindset that can be applied in all facets of your life. Are you stomping through life with limited attention to what is around you? Do you complete your work with the intention of doing the exercise so that you can get to the next one? If you play an instrument or a sport, is there a lot of strain and tension in the actions you perform?

Walking is  probably the simplest way to test yourself. Take ten normal steps, pause, and for the next ten walk 20-50% lighter. Imagine that the dial of gravity is turned back. It's again a paradox, in order to walk lightly you must apply concentration and strength.

A  soft touch isn't just an approach for an exercise. It's a way to live.