The flip side

I’ve been thinking about something since I wrote that last motivation thread. I felt that that post came out a bit on the pessimistic side. Although it was honest, I do want to present another aspect into the equation.

I’ve never seen or yet met a student who I think:

  1. Could not improve
  2. Could not keep improving
  3. Could not successfully learn the material

The problem is usually due to more complex varieties of the motivation issue. In traditional martial arts its not as simple as saying something like “I want to learn how to play the piano” or “I want to learn how to make a good steak.”

The variety of different skills inherent in the internal martial arts are numerous. Especially in an art like Baguazhang. In the end, once you come somewhat full circle, things will seem simpler. But it is often the case that while one is still on the path, they don’t yet know all the paths that they must someday take, what varieties of skills they must conquer.

In the traditional internal martial arts that I have studied, it has been my belief and experience that everyone is capable. This does not mean that everyone was given the same genetic gifts to begin with or that everyone started with the same background. All of these can significantly influence how difficult the road can be for each individual, but that never means that it is impossible.

The true choice of whether something is possible or impossible for that particular person goes back to the question of motivation and whether or not they believe in themselves. Everyone can do, not everyone chooses to and not everyone believes themselves capable of succeeding.

Moreover, and what is likely one of the most serious issues when determining how far one can climb, is that each person often cuts off their potential in learning. They might lack the amount of humility and brutal honesty that is necessary to have with oneself to continue the climb. They might fall into complacency, either assuming they have what they need or that the physical, mental and time costs to continued improvement are too great. They might also just get so stuck in what and how they have done something, that even though they have butted up against the wall and are going nowhere… they still cannot change direction and find the way around. Not all roads that got you to the mountain can get you up the mountain.

For myself, I always try to insure that I learn something with each training session and each day. It doesn’t have to be an earth-shattering thunderstrike of enlightenment, it just has to be a step further down the path. Sometimes I’ll have to enlist the help of my teacher to show me the way around when I’ve come to a dead end, but that is how it should be. Sometimes I’ll have to take some time out, if the mind is not ready and willing and focussed, even if the desire is there, the ends will not come. Sometimes I’ll have to work around an injury and my training will take a different direction for a time, but in the end I know that this will always grant me greater wisdom into the workings of my body, and my training. Sometimes I have to just hunker down and push ahead, even if circumstances are trying to stop me.

Its not always easy, but its always possible. I still haven’t met someone who I think is incapable. And although not everyone is equally capable, they can all be successful, equally.

About george

George Wood is the head instructor of Zong Wu Men Internal Fighting Arts, based in Northern Virginia. He teaches the martial arts of Baguazhang and Xingyiquan.
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