In my early days of training my father often reminded me that one of the best ways to make efficient progress was to practice the movements in my mind. As a child it seemed strange that somehow thinking of a movement would increase my physical ability, but as time passed I came to find that my thoughts and ideas not only assisted my movements, they also came to shape the core of my being.
These mental mechanics can escape us so easily as we are a society that tends to want to see "proof" of everything. But everything that is physical, at one point was only a thought. God first saw the world in his mind, then he spoke and then it existed. This is a three step process that we must all undergo in order to create anything. In fact if a teacher uses only grades as proof of his student's progress, then the teacher will fail to have a true relationship with the student, which of course is "faith" in that individual.
If you wish to design a car it must start as an idea. It then grows from an idea into drawings, diagrams and eventually a full fledged physical automobile. All of the functions of the car have to have been thought out carefully in order for it to "appear" in the physical world. The process of making something into a reality from an idea state is faith. If a car company begins to develop a car but loses faith in the idea, then the funding is cut and the project is scrapped and it ceases to become a reality.
In terms of training it is important to first truly identify the technique. For training is a form of creation or recreation of your existing mental process. When you first practice a movement your mind registers the discomfort in the body as "pain". As we practice daily it is evident what is hidden inside of the pain of the new techniques is progress of strength, reactions and dexterity. The brain being a muscle is directly affected by the progress of the body. In time what the mind considered to be "pain" has now become a form of power. The brain then replaces the form of pain or discomfort, with pleasure and comfort.
The recreation of self through practice is standard for any form of exercise. However in terms of kung fu, many people often forget that the individual is just as important as the style. No style can exist without a practitioner who preserves the movements. This means that two systems will attempt to become one. Both the martial arts system and the mental processing system of the practitioner must find a balanced and honest blend.
If you have been following my blog then you will know that the way my mind identifies martial arts is combat. I'm not interested in any movements that i can't apply directly to my life. Without the intent of combat behind the movement, I am just not interested. However after 30 years my definition of combat has seeped more deeply into my brain and my understanding of self defense has expanded from physical movements to everything in the universe.
I feel that life is all a form of combat for your own identity in some sense. If someone tells you, "You should wear these types of clothes" or "grow your hair longer." They have made an offensive movement toward your character. Bigger offensive movements may sound like, "You shouldn't study that subject" or "skinny is pretty."
The suggestions themselves won't do any damage, but just as fighting, it is how you react to the movement that determines the outcome. If you are continually pummeled with offensive movements, then it is only a matter of time before you are cornered. Evasive action is needed to keep you from taking damage to your true dreams and identity. But if you don't know who you are, how can you take evasive action? Some offensive movements or suggestions made by an opponent might be just what you need to put yourself in a place of power, while others can corner you and force you into a lifestyle that is without joy.
So both while you are training and going through your daily routine you must be able to identity power. In the internal styles the first step to finding power is standing still. Standing still for a long period of time is the only thing that an animal can not do. Yet as we stand still we begin to learn to quiet the mind. Giving us a mirror of clarity that allows us to plant the seeds of our dreams. In life we must not be afraid to be still and find ourselves. When you sit still long enough, the ideas you had as a kid begin to resurface. These ideas can never leave you because they are the pattern sketched on your soul. The first step to understanding happiness and combat is to identify yourself. What is your art and what is your dream?
The next step is even trickier because we need to understand how the movement or technique is done. This reflects on our own lives as a sense of purpose. When a movement comes at me, I need to know how to move in a favorable position. Therefore I must use all of the advantages in the system of my art. If he attacks with the right hand, I can intercept, block, trap or parry depending on my positioning and the velocity of the strike. In all of the styles there are many choices of attack, but you yourself have your own choices which may or may not agree with the style. If ever you and your style have a disagreement it can cause you to hesitate or freeze. If you lack understanding of the options of your style, you will also likewise use panic as your reaction.
Have you seen those videos online wear someone claims to be using a style like Bagua or Wingchun or whatever...but when the fight takes place it looks like kickboxing? Some folks can only hold on to their style until they take the first hit...then the system goes out of the window.
This occurrence of course is quite natural. It means that your survival instincts have taken over your thinking, making you react in the most natural fashion. Yet the entire goal of the training is to make my style become my reactions. So if you can't hold your style after the fight takes place, you need to either train more, train better or find a new style that your mind wants to work with.
However do not give up on a movement or idea because it seems difficult. As Bruce Lee said, The goal is natural unnaturalness or unnatural naturalness." In order to find the blend of yourself and your style you are going to have to research both. In terms of movements you need to take it up a notch. Practice the technique while someone is punching at you from multiple angles. Practice against two or three individuals using the same technique. Practice on a surface that weakness the effectiveness of the technique and force it be effective. Practice the same technique with a weapon, with a projectile. If you take a hit in training, stick to the technique. The mind will eventually identify the technique as the most natural response and it will act as a reactionary enhancement that you will no longer need to think about.
In terms of how this training reflects in your life you must be willing to hold onto your dream at all times. If you have a job that is discouraging spend time on your dream before work or after. Even time just thinking about it will continue to give you the strength to pursue. Be assured you are going to take hits. People are going to tell you every reason why you can't be you. "It's too hard", "it cost too much", "you aren't good enough". Take the hits (forgive), stay in your stance(pray), Look for an attack (practice)
The first step of creation is to identify, the second is the method and the last is the reason. Why do you train this style? Why are you alive?
This is may sound like a deep philosophical question but the answer is really quite simple. I mentioned the seeds of your thoughts can bring things into a reality through faith. I also mentioned that those seeds are the pattern sketched on your soul. Well perhaps it's more clear when you realize that you yourself are a seed. Even the smallest seed is already completed with what it was designed for. It simply needs water.
I feel this is the most important and yet most dangerous factor when it comes to being true to your dream or your art. I could explain to you all the benefits of being a martial artist as it regards to health, strength and discipline.I'm sure you guys are all well familiar with the advantages of learning martial arts. Still I think it's important for you to realize that you don't need to justify your reason to train everyday. You don't need to have a reason to do Bagua or a reason to do the job you've always dreamed of. If something is in your heart, it's in your heart. Once you understand why you are fighting, you become much more effective in terms of how you fight.
We are all seeds with a specific design to do what we were planted for. If you plant an apple tree it's not going to grow pears. No matter how much you try to ignore the great ideas that call at you from within, you SHOULD become what your heart desires most. Because an apple tree never had the option of becoming a pear tree. The only options any tree has is to bear its own fruit...or to not bear fruit.
Of course there are weeds, predators, countless dangerous and mass confusion that is suffocating the world's hopes. They've tricked all the hummingbirds into believing that they can one day become a giraffe through hard work and a lot of money. Meaning that most of us will live unfruitful lives by confusion alone.
Someone who has always wanted to teach may refuse the job because it doesn't pay enough money. This leaves the classroom of students with a teacher who may be qualified but doesn't enjoy the job as she finds the easiest way to get through the day. Even if this teacher wanted to do a good job it would be impossible because the testing system that has already been proven ineffective is the cheapest and the easiest to use. The students end up spending a lot of money on a poor education system in a miserable classroom. Of course none of that matters cause the school is downsizing their staff because they are losing money.
No matter what kind of seed you are or where you live if you are able to identify the truth you will see that we were born in a war. At every corner there could be a legion of bad ideas that are just waiting to cut you and your dream to shreds. If you fight this battle alone you may at times feel that you are still surviving. Yet the point is not just to survive. Your destiny is to flourish your every idea across the land. You should take your new ideas and concept boldly before all you care to show.
The only way to flourish is to understand that true power is not in the illusion of our lives, but in the truth. People have been duped into believing that because there are so many belief systems that we are free to believe what we want. Yet what we believe will NEVER change the reality.
Do you believe that if you choose not to believe in Math, that it will cease to exist? If someone chooses not to believe in Science, will he be able to escape it's laws? The truth is if you want your seeds to grow, in the chaos of our society, you must receive living water through Christ. It's not a religion, it's not a belief, it's just a fact like Math and Science. Choosing not to believe in any of these realities will only make you more confused of your own identity. The Designer only wants you to do what you've always dreamed of. The truth is the only thing real in this lifetime is your dream.