It may be a surprise for some outside of Martial Arts, difficult to believe that you can practice this subject, without being an angry person. In fact more to the point, that your passion for the Arts can lead you to a more secure, stable and reflective mindset. By way of cultivating a more peaceful nature in you. Sound like mystical movie type rubbish? Maybe for some. Though for the curious read on. There might just be something to this. More than maybe the first glance tells you. Like the iceberg there is more depth than just the surface. You see. First of all lets just acknowledge one thing before we move on. Martial Arts can teach the student to deal with violent people with bad intentions. For some students this is the most important aspect to their training, which means you need to be a part of a school that is expert at helping you to achieve this. So once you get beyond the obvious physical side of the combat skill that you will learn, what else is there to learn. Well for schools that dont go beyond the physical training, nothing of course. And then there are the teachers who teach at a greater depth than just punching.
When you first start training you are in the conscious study stage. Its all about mimicking your instructor and the students who are more learned than you. Picking up good form, good technique from those who have already acquired it. This is the way of all beginners. All info goes inwards, and over time practice and discipline starts to stick and become more familiar with you. Then when the time comes and the student is ready, instinctive moments will start to happen. Probably within your classes though maybe outside of your training. You have these light bulb moments, that happen spontaneously. Maybe only lasting a second, though at a speed unweighted by thought, you block a punch. Deliver a kick with perfect timing though with no time spent planning to do so. If only for a split second its like you become audience to your own developing ability, as you realise your own developing skill. What does this mean and what is happening here? Im talking about reaction without thought. This is what it means to react instinctively. You hear people say at times, "I just didnt think about it. My instinct just kicked in. I just did it"
Well when training in self defence you are training your very instincts themselves, giving them something to work with. If a new students reaction to threat is to flinch and blink, then thats fine, as work can untrain this habit, and put a better reaction in its place. When learning to drive your instructor will teach you an emergency stop. This of course takes practice though an experienced driver will not even think about how to stop. They just do it. Reactions can serve you well in a fraction of a second. Training will make sure that the reaction is the correct one. You see when working in the dojo, this is the time when you have the oppertunity to ponder and study technique and situation in order to find belief in the ways of your training so that you can move forwards with confidence. Your Instructor will lead by example to prove to you the effectiveness of that which they are teaching you. Now lets imagine you are ordering a drink at a bar when a tap of your shoulder naturally causes you to turn around only to turn in to a punch. Thought is no use to you here. So what are you going to do in the future? Never order a drink at a bar again. Advanced Self defence deals with these very, Immediate situations. Maybe you open your front door and the threat is in front of you. The best way when you find yourself in any such a moment, is to have trained your response to the point of being spontaneous and by instinct. A football goalkeeper does this all the time during a match. Though of course these movements were rehearsed for years beforehand for them to get to the top of their game. When you blink to stop dust entering your eye, do you consider it first. No your body just makes it happen. Your body has learned to look after itself, and does not require thought processes to slow its reactions down. Ever knock a glass off a table and catch it with the same hand and afterwards find yourself well impressed with your reaction, almost as if you were not involved in the decision to do so. You just caught it. The thought comes afterwards as you congratulate yourself and ask all in the room if they saw that? Well blocking a punch to you can become as natural as a cricketer catching a ball. Sure not all the time, Cricketers drop catches as well though the more trained the better the outcome. Martial Arts and self defence is the same process. The Dojo is where you think. study. Make mistakes. And therefore develop. Though all of this is leading the student closer to the way of the advanced Martial artist. An instinctive relationship with your Art. This is what no mind means. It doesent mean that your mind is not present in the moment. It just isnt as involved. It stays out of the way as instinct takes over. That which has become a natural response for you.
So the first steps of a beginners lessons are exactly what they need to be. Thoughtful study following the example of someone further down the path. Follow your instructor as they have followed theirs. This is how an experienced street fighter can overcome a younger, stronger faster guy. The experienced street fighter makes decisions faster since they have rehearsed for this many times. Nothing is faster than the speed of instinct. Like an actor in a play, You prepare for the big show. The difference for self defence is that if we are aware and fortunate hopefully the big show never arrives for us. If it does and you are a blackbelt, you have practiced for 400 hours for this moment to go your way. How long has the thug opposite you prepared for?
So whats the key to making this all work? Some say that martial arts is a falsehood. Doesn't work. Like in any field you have those who apply themselves and those who dont. Who out there knows someone that has a gym membership that never goes. So now do you blame the gym for the lack of results? It works if you work at it. Sure, as mentioned before, look around to find the correct school for you. There are good schools and not so good ones out there. Though even the best instructors can only do so much. They cant throw the punches for you. The journey is a partnership. It works if you make it work.
Great things can be achieved with a forward thinking mindset. In our school we apply thought to our training though the eventual aim is to get to a point when the student can arrive at at the moment where the movements are more natural and with thought removed. We train with intelligence so that eventually we can remove thought from the process.
We are thoughtful in study so that our movements can become free from thinking.
We struggle in the dojo so that we can perform with ease under pressure.
We fight on the battlefield within to find clarity with the chaos around us.
We challenge ourselves so that we can feel the power that achievement and self belief brings.
This is the Martial Arts that i know that waits beyond just punching.