First "Learn", then "Correct"

December 2004

Volume 7 Issue 12

Aibudo Kanji
Picture of Shihan

You were trained in a manner that you were capable of at the time.  After a fashion, your joints have loosened up, your tendons have stretched, you have learned to breathe properly and now accept the opposite as correct.  Now you're truly ready to "learn"!  The hard work is now to begin.  You have to correct most everything that you have been doing to the present.

How long does this "doing wrong" time last?  It depends on each individual and system.  If you had only one movement in a system, the time frame would be quite short.  But, in most systems there are numerous entities that must be learned and therefore the "wrong" time is much longer.  I truly believe that with most, they must acquire, in a 10 Dan system, somewhere around at least 3rd Dan.  That's the reason that acquiring "black belt" is not the time to quit and say to yourself, "look at what I've accomplished".  You haven't really accomplished much of anything yet.  The time of learning comes at a much later time in your martial arts "career".  That's the key word, "career".  Only when you decide to become a professional in the arts, do you really become a martial artist.  There are thousands and thousands of "black belts", but a far fewer number of "martial artists".  "Martial artists" are never satisfied with their performance and are continually fine tuning there "life'.  Anyone who is satisfied with what they have accomplished are only fooling themselves, as outsiders looking in see the truth for what it is.  When you begin to think that you can't be beat, you are actually about to begin your downward slide in learning.  Hitler truly believed that he was invincible, but lo and behold he is no longer "with us".  The so-called experts are actually just

beginners.  They are incapable of seeing or accepting that there is anything more to learn.  They believe that if they profess to everyone they meet, that they are experts, they will be.  The only thing they are experts at, are with "running their mouth".  The only thing that I have seen that a mouth stops, from an expert, is a "fist in the teeth".  A professional martial artist is able to prevent a physical fight with their mouth, but they don't profess to be experts!  Ego is blind to what's is truly present.  Humility allows an individual to "see".  You have never read where the "old masters" ever professed to be "experts", yet they were all the best for their time.

The 90-10 Relationship

Anyone who has been around for awhile has heard of the 90-10 relationship of mental to physical in the arts, but what about the 90-10 relationship of "conscious" to "subconscious"?

As an individual approaches "master" in the arts, they begin to realize that winning comes from the subconscious (void) and not from the conscious.  Movement without thought is extremely fast, whereas movement following thought is sluggishly apparent.  Technical expertise without the ability to move without thought is practically worthless.  Working from the void is movement with little effort.  Breathing is almost effortless and physical effectiveness is near 100%.

With that said, there must  be some conscious thought with every confrontation.  You must evaluate your environment, the number of your adversary and their apparent capabilities.  Look for available "external" weapons and their useable attributes.  Choose your initial direction and method of attack.  After that, win or loose, it's your void that is going to take over from there.

It has been said that, "the martial arts are easy to learn, but difficult to correct".  If you have been in the arts for any time at all, you have witnessed the above as truth.  If you don't understand the above philosophy or refuse to agree with it, you either haven't been in the arts very long or are na´ve!  I'm curious to see what responses I receive, both from inside our system and our internet visitors and readers with respect to this article.

In the beginnings of martial arts training, the body is "stiff" and appears to acquire a lot of "energy" to move.  Movement is extremely mechanical and limited in motion.  "Left" ends up becoming "right" and vice versa.  "Wide" ends up coming out as "deep".  What should be "low" shows up as "tall".  Beginning practitioners even are unable to breathe.  What eventually turns out to be "natural" is unable to be found in the beginning.

"Long time" practitioners understand why the above is true.  Within the arts, to be effective and correct, you have to execute the opposite of which appears to be "natural" in life.  You have to push when your mind tells you to pull.  You have to move forward when your mind tells you to retreat.  It appears that everything that you have done in your prior martial arts life has to now be done in reverse.

After you have been in the arts for some time, you finally have to correct everything that you have been doing "wrong" in your training for safe and efficient movement.  Why is it that your instructors would "train" you to do things wrong and eventually have to change it later and make it right?  The truth of the matter is, you weren't able to do much of anything correctly in the beginning as your mind and body weren't capable of it.