Simple answer….Work Hard and Marinate in it!
Well, hello folks, it’s me Chris again having one of those reflective moments. I often wonder who the hell will read the stuff I write? Who will ever care?
Will my words make a difference to anyone reading this? Who knows?? All I know is that I pour myself out to the internet worlds here, as a way of paying back what the world has given me….Great Memories, Experience, Knowledge, Struggles, Friendships, and Love. So, here I go again…..rambling on into Internet Oblivion! I know people will pass various opinions on these pieces I produce….lots of eye rolling, laughing, criticizing, or whatever…i welcome them all….all I know is that I speak from the heart man…I speak the truth as how I see it in my own flesh and bones…..I speak to those who have an open mind and want to actually hear what i have to say…..anyway……
I often think about the question of “How to get good at anything?” Especially during this time in my life. It’s been a busy summer, with the birth of my new baby girl, life has been a whirlwind of learning….learning how to take care of a baby, learning about how to manage my time, and learning how to manage relationships. Juggling life, you can say is the story of my life. Getting good at anything, especially your favourite pastimes seems like an impossibility during times like this. However, inner passions and hobbies should never go astray, because to me, this makes up the inner core of your being. Most of you who know me understand that one of my biggest passions is the Martial Arts. It’s definitely a hobby, however, I see it as a metaphor for life.
Martial arts has been my saving grace….it’s kept me sane through the insane times of life, and it’s given me the courage and determination to push through life’s challenges that come up. You see, us Martial artists share a common passion….the passion of self-development and self-mastery. I am always critical of myself.
I realize I am born “broken”. What I mean by that is, I am born into the flesh, bones, and organic infrastructure of an advanced neurological system..yes the Brain, and it’s organs. Given all of this, there’s our emotional self that gets in the way, and lets say our emotions often get in the way of doing things “properly”. Emotions like fear, greed, selfishness, anxiety, anger etc., plague us as human beings, and we are left to struggle through life dealing with all of this. These emotions take many shapes and forms, and we have to sort it all out at times….and sometimes we’re just oblivious to it!
I ramble on…yes, i know, however, my realization of the fact that we are all “broken” makes me want to “fix” it. At least for myself first, and when I come up with some solution for myself, I will pass it on to others. So, I will get to the issue at hand….How do we get good at anything during times of chaos in your life?
Well, the task that I will talk about is how do you get good at Martial arts? Now, if you can good at this, then you can get good at anything….and if you can get good at anything, you can get good at martial arts. What am i trying to say here? LOL…..bottom line….ATTITUDE and CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT….if you adopt a positive attitude and engage in character building activities, you can achieve ANYTHING. Here are my suggestions based on my experience in life so far:
1) Decide what is it you want to get good at? You have to narrow it down to a short list. Write down a list of things you want to accomplish…then narrow it down to a short list of achievable goals. For me, it’s self-development through the Martial arts. Inner motivation here is key folks. You have to basically motivate yourself into action by comparing your “old” self to the “new” self with newly acquired skills! This involves some visualization! See yourself successful and fluent in this newly acquired skill!
2) Ask yourself, why do you want to get good at this? Is it because others are pressuring you? Is this going to just help you or help others? Do you want to show off? Are you insecure about something? Are you not happy with something about yourself? Self reflect here. Stop at this step and hang out here for a while, because in my opinion, having a purpose to your venture is important.
3) Make a plan – gather resources, find a teacher, find people or things to practice on or with, think about the environment that will foster success. You need to write all of this down.
4) Start implementing the plan by finding a good teacher! Everyone needs a mentor! Having someone to look up to and to learn from in my opinion is so important for growth in this world! Lately, I’ve been hanging out with my Kempo Instructor Vic Arnold. I have trained with this man way back in the late 1990’s, lost touch for over 10 years, and only recently we’ve rekindled a teacher-student friendship! I don’t know what got into me, but something is telling me to be with this man, connect with this individual, because something great will come about for both of us….it’s real surreal, yet amazing and motivating. So lately, I’ve had my “Sunday’s with Vic” – Martial art training: philosophical discussions about the martial arts, fight strategy, character development, technical training, drill development, and a whole lot more!
We need teachers! I am a school teacher, and I see the need to teach my students. The need me as much as I need them. I need my students, because it’s my vocation to help these young citizens to grow and connect to the world. I know with all of my efforts, something positive will come about to those who apply the knowledge. It also feeds my family….and I will never deny the hand that fed me! My students need me…at their young age, they are totally dependant on guidance. Guidance is key! Having a teacher, parent, mentor….we so need this! It is impossible to do anything, and get good at anything without a teacher!
5) Be open minded and learn up everything in your area of Martial Arts interest. Man, being open minded is the key! Bruce Lee once said “Be formless, shapeless….you put water into the cup, it becomes the cup….” well, i don’t think these were his words exactly, I firmly believe it came from his philosophical studies….but anyway….the dude meant well and these words are just mind boggling powerful! If you are open minded to your teachers lessons, you will absorb useful information, and apply it to your life. You will not only just restrict yourself to his/her teachings, but you will make connections with other teacher’s lessons as well, and be open for criticism and other points of view!
6) Learn everything your teacher dishes out to you. Take the techniques, work them for form. Then work them for application. Then work them to see how they are connected to everything else you’ve learned. Do not pass judgement on anyone else but yourself! You will see the light in time.
7) Practice like mad! Immerse yourself in a sea of repetition. Repetition is your best friend. Thousands of times, practice your techniques, and when you’re done, repeat. Perfect practice makes perfect.
8) When you’re done, with this all, you will realize you are still not done yet
9) Now you have to immerse yourself in context – yes folks….Marinate in it!
So what does this mean? Well, acquire as many resources to supplement and enhance your learning:
DVD’s,seminars, books, magazines, etc.… digest it, and Marinate in it!
Hangout in user forums that talk about these things. Talk to like-minded individuals. All of these above mentioned activities will enhance your learning and also provide a tangible measure for you to decide if you are in fact on the right track at being successful in your endeavour.
Over the years, I have practiced what I’ve preached. I am not whatsoever saying I’m a master or guru of anything….however, every aspect of the martial arts that I took on caused me to follow the above steps. I am good at what I do, but no where near where I want to be! I am constantly growing and changing, being humbled year after year!
The Martial arts community is a political one. I have trained in clubs that have engaged in very cliquish behaviours….”yes sensei, osu sensei, all about our system sensei, our system is the best sensei…”…blah…blah…and frankly, this is highly negative in my mind. This is no way for me to engage in open minded behaviours! I am tired of instructors bashing others. We need to learn from each other, because all martial arts have something to offer. I tend to marinate with positive individuals who make me a better person. How do i know this? Well, i feel better about myself, and I am motivated in wanting to improve. What more can I ask for? Seriously…tell me!?
I have been blessed, over the last few years to have met/rekindled with some amazing people. Facebook has been a tremendously positive force in achieving this. And I thank each and every one of you out there whom I’ve touched base with on FB! I appreciate your friendship, advice, and mentorship! BOW! I’ve also reached out to others by literally flying out to visiting people, training with them, driving to different cities etc. Marinating in something involves all of these things!
10) Take what you’ve learned, peace them together, practice them inside, and out…reverse certain things, take them apart, analyze them from various perspectives: their footwork, their handwork, their overall movement and direction….take apart their structure….look at the biomechanics behind EVERYTHING you’ve learned. See where these biomechanics can be found in other techniques. Discover patterns. Stress test your theories and observed patterns. And seriously…once you discover the patterns….this is when you will start your learning…….you will realize that all martial arts are the same!! They all follow very similar biomechanical patterns……therefore….it boggles me as to why there are so much politics in the Martial arts world…we are all the same! We all have 2 arms, 2 legs, a nervous and organic system….um…hello.
I have, over the years, formulated this part of the learning curve, and coined the term: R.E.A.L (Replicate, Examine, Assess, and Link). For more information on this methodology, go to my blog article on the topic (http://realmartialarts.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/re-post-r-e-a-l-at-a-glace-once-again/) or simply go to my blog and read about what REAL stands for. It’s simply a logical method, I developed myself for my own learning of basically anything martial arts related…and frankly, you can apply it to anything!
11) Validate – we all need some sort of validation as to whether we are doing things right or not? Turn to the pros in your field…your teachers, coaches, mentors, your team, etc. Are you doing what they are doing? And most importantly, have you accomplished what you have visualized in the first place? Did you accomplish your initial goals! Check your list that you created? Mission accomplished or not?
Getting good at anything involves hard work and marinating in the activity. I can honestly say to you, that I have done the best I can do at this moment in my life. This is all I can ever do, and this is all I can ever ask of anyone to do. If you do your best at anything…this and only this will increase the odds at being good at what it is you wanted to get good at…..you might fail…you might come close…..you might even be successful….but does it really matter? In my opinion, if you achieved what you set out to do….this is a real bonus….but man……if you didn’t….I guarantee you one thing….if you’ve followed with your heart some of the ideas set out above…..then I’m sure you can honestly say to yourself, you have learned something along the way…..in the end….it’s the process of working hard…it’s the process of learning that counts!……
If I die at any point in my life….if I leave my loved ones behind for whatever reason…..I have done my best. I have followed my own advice to the best of my ability. I have been honest with myself….not complained much…because seriously folks…when you complain…who really does give a shit? Nobody! So, take responsibility for everything you do, work hard at it, follow some of the ideas above, and marinate in it! I have, I’m sure, neglected some important steps, however, hey, life is nothing but a work in progress for me, and I would love to hear some of your advice. I think however, that you are bound to gain something out of this practice somehow!
Well, I wish you all well. Dig deep inside yourself….look at your accomplishments, figure out where you want to be, what you want to do, think about your strengths, weaknesses, and come up with an action plan at getting good at something…..in my case, lately, it’s been this…how can i get better at the martial arts, and how can the martial arts help me handle my life better, my kid, my wife, my family, my friends, and my co-workers?
All the best, and please drop me a line or two at my blog letting me know what you think about all this stuff!
All pictures were sourced from Google Images.