This blog is dedicated to a discovery I made in my training which opened a secret to the universe. I can't directly explain just as my master was unable to directly explain it to me. It can only be discovered in growth, not explanation. But I hope by sharing my recent experience, that maybe I can spark something in you that has been sparked in myself.
Progress can be as invisible as God, but in both cases it is faith that gives me the strength for the next day. Three days ago the weather was so cold that not even my Qi was able to stop the painful freezing of the blood in my fingertips. After two hours my hands hurt so much that I became nauseous. I ran home and laid on my bed shaking. The only thing keeping me from passing out was the blistering agony on my cheeks and palms. My eyes filled with tears as I prayed for the pain to subside. Some workouts are loaded with pain, but still no apparent progress.
Today when I woke up it seemed to be the most ordinary of days. After work, I found an empty parking lot and prepared for the most ordinary of workouts. Sometimes in the martial arts world, we can go years without ever getting a glimpse of our invisible progress. But there are other times, that years of practice and persistence can all come to life and create the spark that you have been looking for. This spark was probably helped along by an old Bruce Lee video, advice from the master, some irritating youtube critics and maybe even a bad sandwich, but some how my eyes have opened again for the first time. I have learned the secret of remembering what is forgotten daily.
The secret of the universe is actually not a secret at all. We see it, touch it and feel it everyday. In fact the misunderstanding of it is what has created many of the problems in our society to date. It doesn't matter what type of kung fu you practice: martial arts, teaching, singing, politics, business etc, all things that have been created carry the same signature. Every creature and plant on the Earth must have both a male and female. Just as every technique, no matter what style, must carry the principles of Yin and Yang.
This is an obvious truth and hardly a discovery. But when I looked deeper into the 64 palms I was able to see a reflection of all of the martial arts. All of the arts from Praying Mantis to MMA can fall into two categories: "Perfection of Movement" and "The Reality of Combat".
Styles that emphasize the perfection of movement are focused on the science of balance, speed, power and of course Qi. By mastering the movements you connect yourself into the Earth and release your buried human potential. This is a lifetime of practice and understanding that acts as a mirror for oneself, bringing clarity and peace.
The styles that fall in to the "Reality of Combat" are more focused on timing, spacing and the ability to defeat an opponent. The technique you use isn't as important as taking out the enemy. Even an incorrect technique at the right time is correct if it brings victory. I've known many excellent fighters that were not martial artist, but just mean enough and determined enough to beat anyone they came across.
You can find countless debates online of these two types of martial artist continually arguing about which is better. It is the same as trying to argue that Yin is better than Yang, when they are both part of a necessary circle that is designed to help you find direction.
The benefits of perfecting yourself are countless, but one of the most important factors that is developed is the humility. Through continuing to challenge yourself through the perfection of movements you learn humility which is the root of power. In a sense you are training out your weakness and you are able to see your personal demons up close. Whether it's arrogance, a lack of patience or a bad temper, you will weed it out through training your techniques daily.
The benefits of combat are also countless. What could be more important than being able to protect your own life? In combat it is more important to know the weakness of your enemy than to know your own. Through combat you learn timing, courage and killer instinct. Yet physical combat is only the first most primitive level of survival. Getting an education, performing or keeping a good job is also a form of combat. It take great courage to approach the person that you secretly admire and your first conversation is nothing less than romantic combat.
To develop oneself is power. The art of combat is skill. Of course you see a bit of one inside the other just as any Yin and Yang diagram. If you only spend your time perfecting your technique, much like many of the monks in the temple, you may never experience the benefits of using your power, which brings joy. If you spend your time only focused on combat, then you will spend your whole life never knowing yourself or power.
The disconnection is much deeper and older than just the martial arts. It is the reason that we have an education system that punishes students rather than encouraging their creativity. It is also the reason many religions teach guilt instead of love. We live in a society that wishes to be entertained and not involved. When the truth is nothing is more entertaining than being involved. We care mostly for the success of our self and we're unconcerned with the success of our neighbor even though it's directly connected. Many people are trapped in themselves and unable to perceive the truth of the world. Others are trapped in the world and unable to perceive the truth and power in themselves.
This disconnection began back when Adam sinned and the Earth became separate from Heaven. Our bodies were created from dust and our souls from breath making us the only living contradiction on the planet. Who you truly are is your soul, but your body is where you live. Therefore it is crucial that you do not make decisions based on your flesh for it is limited. Yet your soul's time on the Earth is determined by the caring of your body. Why better yourself if you refuse to be involved in the world? Why be so involved in the world if you refuse to better yourself?
If you continually prepare with out purpose, you will find yourself in danger of quitting before you begin your quest. If you continue to chase purpose without preparation and understanding of self, you are in danger of losing yourself in one of a number of societies meaningless forms of "success". Train so that you may know yourself, fight so you may change the world. Never let a day go by that you don't improve and never fight in a battle that means nothing to you.
When these two elements have truly been combined in your life you will find that you know longer fit into any of the Earthly categories. Yes I am American, I am black, I am a martial artist and I am a Christian. Though technically I fit into all of these categories, the truth is I am nothing like any of them on the most basic level. I will live in any country that I am called to and take on pieces of every culture that appeal to me. If you find yourself saying, " I don't do that because it's not my culture" you may be strangling the only chance you have of learning the true you. If you continue to say that you live in the best country in the world, but have yet to go anywhere else, you are smothering yourself in ignorance. You are more than any category that you have been placed in and do not be limited by the fears of being different.
You are free and the world is yours. You may eat freely the fruit from any tree. By putting limitations on your abilities, ideas or opportunities, you are putting limitations on God's love for you.