I’ve mentioned my friend’s blog in previous blogs, but I have to mention him again. He’s written a new blog, that I think speaks well of a topic we’ve covered here on my blog-site. I encourage you to read his blog by clicking here. If you’ve followed my blogs, you know what I’m talking about (learning, then mastering, a martial art or kung fu), but let’s be more specific, here: Let’s talk about the foundation of learning.
I don’t want to repeat myself, so I’m going to start by catching up readers who don’t keep up with my blog-site:
- Mastering a Martial Art Doesn’t Happen With Familiarity
- How Much Time Will It Take To Master Kung Fu
If you’ve not read these, I encourage you to do so.
As my friend has written so well, the foundation of learning is key. Today, there is a trend in students of martial arts (and many schools) to learn quickly only what is necessary to achieve an immediate fight, a fight defined by some sports venue. The venue has disclosed the fighter, created controlled circumstances, and generated a means to enforce its rules and regulations for the safety of the fighters. So, one training to fight only has to train for one person at a time, and win against that person – without worries of any outside stressors – on their way to their ultimate goal: a belt, or trophy, or some other participation award. This is like building a house quickly without fully regarding the soil it is being built. Without considering the underlying ground one is building, one may construct a building that cannot withstand the environmental stressors surrounding it. Simply because its foundation is inappropriate, or incomplete.
In the martial art system that I teach, Wing Chun, the system, itself, was developed with the maturation process (everyone faces when learning anything, or attempting to master) in mind. In fact, the first empty-hand form, Siu Nim Tao 小念頭 , has mind (generally translated as idea, for that which comes from the mind) right in its name: Nim. The idea of this form is to teach the beginning student several things, such as but not limited to the following:
- Proper Structure
- Proper Breathing (within this structure)
- Proper Triangulation (in stillness and motion)
- Proper Circular Movements
- Whole Body Mindfullness
- Proper Mind Intention (idea)
- Unification of Mind Intent and Body (without tension or other obstructions)
- Proper Placement and Use of Energy
The list goes on and on, but this makes for a good introduction. As one learns these things through self-reflection, one is challenged with the condition he or she is building (i.e., the development of wellness) by facing various environmental stressors (e.g., other people, various types of ground or atmospheric conditions, etc.). The point of being exposed to these stressors is to find weaknesses in one’s condition and overcome them. This part of training may start off simple (e.g., moving in a punch-like fashion against various types of resistance) and become more sophisticated as one matures (e.g., dealing with various actions and people withing changing environmental conditions).
The point is to empower the practitioner for any circumstance; because, it is understood that life’s circumstances more often than not will not equal the sports venue’s; and without proper conditioning, one may not be able to defend one’s self from those things seeking to do them harm.
When someone tries to short-cut that process, limiting their mind’s idea to one environment, one fighter or one circumstance, it’s easy to see how they limit themselves and their ability to that circumstance. (This is something we may call narrow-sightedness.)
And, yet, this is exactly what so many do.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be good at sports fighting, and enjoying taking part in these events. But, when we talk about self-defense and martial arts, we’re talking about something of great consequence if we ever have to use it: True harm to self (and/or those we are responsible), perhaps even the potential loss of life. When we’re training for that type of self-defense, we must be able to differentiate between the two, and we must be prepared to do what it takes to empower ourselves for such situations.
This form of training requires patience and persistence, among other things, in the person training, as well as a willingness to embrace change. When we embrace change we become like a flowing river, circumnavigating the landscape to our destination without compromise of self or compromise in relations (with those things we come into contact). (This state of be-ing is what neurologists and psychiatrists call The Flow State and what Wing Chun calls Nim Lik.) When we give into narrow-sightedness, however, we lose our ability to flow, and are easily captured and manipulated by those forces seeking to do us harm.
Empower yourself to life!™
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