Thursday, September 11, 2014

Taking a Break from your Break

(Thanks for the inspiration beautiful dork)

I know just how you feel.  Work is busy. Weekends you feel SO TIRED.  The routine is boring but inescapable.  Your energy level drops ~ you stop going to the gym.  Finally you stop going to the dojo for training... will you ever come back??

Day by day you feel your skills fading away. You wonder what the teacher or, worse yet, your fellow students, will think about your absence or what they would say if/when they see you again. Will they be ashamed of you??  Fearing the confrontation, you avoid it by not going back.  In your effort not to disappoint, you disappoint. Your despair grows...

The longer the break, the smaller the chance that you will will ever go back to the dojo.  The years go by and you experience the worst of emotions ~REGRET...

We all have peaks and valleys in our lives, and as we get jobs, develop life partners, and build families, martial arts training is not always priority #1.  That's OK.  The purpose of our training is to make us better people ~ more resilient physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.  This should help us adjust to some short-term pressures without additional stress.

Martial arts is not a race.
There is no prize for finishing "first", since there is no finish line.  The only thing which matters is going forward, even inch by inch if that is all that we can do.  We have to keep moving forward.

Likewise it is not a competition with anyone other than the self.  This is important because mastery of the self must be the ultimate goal.  Competition degrades martial arts to a sporting contest.  Sports are noble endeavors to be sure, but martial arts training can be so much more than that.  Our training can be the key to having the life we want to have.  We should use it to transform ourselves and our lives.

Simply put, you should train whenever you can, as often as you can, without shame or guilt for times when you cannot.  When you train, be there 100% and focus on the task at hand.  You deserve it.  You need it.

Martial Arts would be easy if it were just about punching and kicking.  Believing that would be naive, shallow and, frankly,  wrong.  The training is for being better at every aspect of living.  As humans, we are overly concerned with our own mortality, and martial arts is relevant to us psychologically and philosophically because it is our human nature at its most primal - the struggle to survive.  To understand ourselves best, we explore this most base element of our existence and examine it until we can face this moment without fear.
Martial arts is about becoming unafraid of death, so that we can also be unafraid of LIFE.

My friend said that she practices "self-defense" by not letting others into her life or close to her.  As a result, she feels lonely.  I told her this is not self-defense, it is FEAR.  Self-defense is about CONFIDENCE.  It is about allowing others into our lives and to be close to us precisely because we are not afraid.  Martial arts training gives us the power to be ourselves and to open up to others and let ourselves be connected to them, because we are no longer scared of being hurt.

At the heart of this understanding in martial arts is the awareness of CONNECTION.  It is easy to understand in Aikido, since Aikido is the method of redirecting aggressive force through a single touchpoint/connection on the aggressor's wrist, arm, shoulder, head, etc.  It can be harder to see the connection in other arts, but I promise you it is there.  WE ARE ALL CONNECTED.  WE ARE ALL ONE.

There is no shame in taking a break.  That said, we owe it to ourselves to keep moving forward - in our training and in every other aspect of our lives.  To this, the ADD/Parkour words really hit home.

"we start together, we finish together".  LIVE CONNECTED.

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