Humans are weird species, we have managed to evolve over time and control, or ruin the planet we live in, depending on how you look at it. However there’s no denying it, that the thing that has made humans, top of the chain is also our biggest weakness. I’m talking about our conscious mind, the one that gives us ideas and creativity but also stops us from reaching our full potential.
Kung Fu is often based on animal movements but more specifically the way they act and move. We are the only species that has the awareness to question our ability while other animals act on instinct.
The featured image on this blog post is an American Bull Frog, Now to some people, the look of it, may repulse them, however a Bull Frog does not think, God I’m ugly and fat, it doesn’t look at a tree frog and think ” why can’t I be that way, its so much more thinner and attractive than me” It is what it is. This is such a wonderful way to be, we as humans have a bad habit of comparing us to other humans. The art is to be just you.
There is a reason that martial art has art at the end of it, it is an art! What really gets my goat up is when people just think that martial arts is about what works on the street. Yes the essence of martial arts is combat but if that is what it is just about, then in my opinion, the only arts that should be taught is boxing, Judo and Mai Thai.
We learn to do forms in Kung Fu and Tai Chi, Karate has Kata and Tai Kwon Do call them patterns. They are choregraphed set movements where you learn techniques of your system and then try to figure out the many different martial applications that they could be for. Some martial art enthusiasts knock them and say that real fighting doesn’t work like that etc. I do tend to agree but I also think that thinking on these terms is missing the point.
I do agree with the sentiment in the sense that you would not learn to swim on land before going into the water. After all isn’t the best way to learn to fight, is to have lots of fight? You would learn very quickly in what works and what doesn’t! Obviously it is not wise to pick on people to fight with just to get good at it but there are other ways to pressure test your techniques, the best example is boxing, they have shadow boxing but that is not going to teach you how to react when you get punched in the face, boxers box! A lot of martial artists who practice for sport enter competitions, which is another great way but its a far shout from a real fight.
So why do martial artists spend so much time in perfecting stuff that probably wont help them defend themselves. I am digressing a bit but my point is, its an art, it may be the art of combat but being an artist in any form is the expression of ones self.
I often use the word study rather than train in martial arts because it is about studying everything about your chosen discipline, defending yourself in a fight is only one small element of the martial arts.
When practicing Kung Fu, my aim is to be at one with my essence, to be a human, not a tiger, or a Snake. When you learn new moves or forms, you have to use your cognitive ability as they are new. When you know your stuff, try doing free form, just moving and doing any technique that feels right. Its not easy because you thinking part of the brain will take over but you will know it when you shut out your thought process. Chances are, you wont remember what moves you’ve done and you will not be able to do the same again. That is mindfulness, being in the present moment, not worrying about any crap that has happened or is going to happen in the future. That to me, is the essence of martial arts and also what being human is about.