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Martial Arts Learning Tips

I just got back from a 5-hour long pole workshop. Here are some takeaways and random thoughts…

1. You can pass on a system, a way of doing things but you cannot pass on a personal style that is unique to an individual’s DNA, his unique personality, body type and natural flavor of movement. Instead of copying others, learn a method and give yourself the chance to use it in free flow to see what comes out of your unique self……

2. If you want to learn any MA more quickly and effectively, you should strive to understand the history of the art – for example in the long pole work; there is a lot of low, long classical stance such as a cross step, bow stance, horse stance. Often, people will say the classical deep stance is impractical because they lack mobility. However, historically, a lot of the pole technique was developed by fishermen – they were fighting on boats so in order not to lose their balance, the low deep stance was mandatory. Also if a spear or pole was 12 ft long with a piece of metal at the end, the heavyweight would demand a wider, lower stance in order to be able to wield it with authority and functional power. Perhaps if people understood the history they would not be so quick to make inaccurate judgments. This illustrates a very important principle: one must adapt his art to his current society, lifestyle, and culture

3. Entering the flow state- Today we train for 5 hours, it went by really quick. It literally felt like an hour and a half! If you do the same thing over and over again, the brain tired out quickly with boredom. If you constantly change drills, you do not get a chance to get good at anything. The key is to do the same area of study with an unlimited variation. That way you get the best of both worlds and time pass by quick. When you are fully engaged in the present moment, you enter the flow state where time stops. The art becomes a real blessing of joy instead of another way to feed the ego. All the noise stops and there is no more forcing oneself to push through things to get to a future goal. The reward is the intense joy of the act itself in the NOW….. this is where real breakthrough happens.

4. Beginners act like experts, Masters act like beginners – In the current MA climate and community, beginners are often teachers – people train a few months or a year and are very busy presenting themselves as experts even when basics skills are not well developed yet. Ironically, every real master that I have ever met are the opposite -they do not like to teach much because they are too busy researching and learning. In fact, if you go to a beginners class it is common nowadays to see them busying teaching each other but when you go to an advanced class, no one wants to teach, they are busy learning, they are like a sponge, soaking up every moment of learning, getting better and better. If you wanna get good, model the high performers. Do not train for social status or showing off, train for the love of the art. The need for praise, approval, and respect from others brings insecurity but love and curiosity brings joy and contentment. This was the atmosphere in today’s workshop… refreshing!

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