Sunday, 27 July 2008
Don't say: I suck at Kung Fu. But do say: I suck at Kung Fu because...
When training East Asian Martial Arts, we all know it is more then just learning how to fight. There is a lot of Eastern philosophy and the way of life integrated in the training. My mother used to say: "a good Kung Fu teacher is very important, as his role is like that of a father and will pass on his wisdom and moral judgment to you". This involves self-discipline, righteousness, focus, loyalty, self-growth, physical and mental strength, but also... humbleness. When someone is genuinely humble, his/her talent or skill is outshone by his/her personality.
Humbleness in Asian society doesn't mean one has to be submissive. It is a sign of having good manner and staying with both feet on the ground. Since it is not the same as being submissive, it means that the person is in fact always looking to improve oneself.
Often, when having a conversation with my fellow students, I hear many of them say: "I am not good at it". It, referring to what we trained before, it could be about being bad at Long Fist, Tai Chi or simple stretching. I am sure you and I have also been there and said that a few times. The logical solution is of course to tell yourself to train harder. But what exactly are you going to train? Where should the focus of the training be?
If one can only say: "I am bad at it", but not understanding what exactly is wrong, it is like being ill and not knowing how to find a cure.
In Kung Fu training, it is important to acknowledge your weakness and faults. But it doesn't stop there, as it would only create frustration at this stage. Truth is, it is unlikely you can improve during self-training without knowing what the mistake is. The problem lies in using the wrong phrase, instead of just saying that you suck at Kung Fu, it is much more productive to be able to say why you suck at it.
"I suck at always forgetting to put my back foot on a 45 degree angle".
Solution: focus on the 45 degree angle.
"I suck at mabu because I am sticking my butt out".
Solution: try not to look as if you are shitting.
Imagine you just say: "I suck at Kung Fu", there is no way you can focus on improving without first understanding what exactly you are bad at.
Posted by Mike Martello's students at 13:57