Students at this lesson will learn the WALTZ — Warriors and Lovers Traditional Zeitgeist — and the SAMBA — Situational Awareness Momentum-Balance Activation — both familiar dances which double as acronyms for martial arts-related concepts within the context of the class.
"I came up with these silly acronyms to get people thinking about martial arts in a different way," said Phillips, who has been studying dance and martial arts since the '70s.
Many martial arts traditions remove the idea of momentum from their practice in order to be safe, replacing it with a focus on rigid technique. By practicing the waltz through the lens of a martial artist, students are able to safely reincorporate the idea of momentum and movement into their practice.
The samba helps to show students that they are already physically powerful, regardless of the amount of training they have. This concept, Phillips said, is extremely important to teach new students.
"Samba is about letting your body go in a way that is really powerful," he said.
During his lifelong studies within the world of martial arts, Phillips has discovered that many martial systems have roots in contemplative traditions, as well as the arts.
"Theatre, ritual dance, yogic traditions and martial arts have a primordial relationship," according to Phillips' bio on the Portland Shaolin website. "They developed together and continue to inform one another."
Things like timing and finding an opening within the space of a rhythm, he said, are key factors that martial arts students must focus on.
"The reason we use play to teach self defense is because it touches into that childlike part of your brain and it is easier to imprint those lessons," Phillips said.