A Martial Arts perspective on coping with the current challenging situation🥋🙂.
Sarting off with one of my favourite martial arts quotes which I think is fitting. I literally even have the T-Shirt:
"Be Water, My Friend. Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend." Bruce Lee
There are so many aspects or directions I could go with how Taekwon-Do has helped to improve and help me in my everyday life. Martial Arts training being one of the more obvious activities to compare in a metaphorical way to the current situation the world finds itself in.
Much of what I say can of course also apply to other activities, all people are different and should find an activity that can engage them in a similar way. Taekwon-Do has helped me to improve other aspects of my life in order to perform my training better. This has a positive effect all round.
The first observation is the social and friendship aspect of training, we can appreciate this now more than ever before. Also, this situation highlights how everyone on the planet and especially in one’s own country is intrinsically connected. The South African word Ubuntu sums it up perfectly, meaning (I am because we are). This is one of the most important aspects of our Taekwon-Do training. I often mention this is the most important part of the sparring/ fighting aspect. We respectfully bow to each other before engaging in the combat aspect. This acknowledges and thanks your opponent or training partner. Without that person in front of you, you would not be able to improve or excel. Every champion should be mindful that every person training or competing with them, they would not be where they are without those people. All members of a club or organisation should feel pride for each other when one of them succeeds, because we are all connected. Similarly, in life and economies each and every person doing their job affects everyone, it has magnified now and we will hopefully acknowledge, have more empathy and appreciation for everyone, even competitors.
In martial arts as in life. No one remembers the easy gradings, matches or sessions. One actually learns more from the difficult, or even matches, you don’t win. This drives more improvement than an easy ride.
Don’t get me wrong, this virus is terrible and an absolute challenge to myself and all of us collectively. Add to that the many people who have lost loved ones because of the virus or indirectly because of the virus as well. As big a shock as it is, it could have been much worse. If the pandemic was even a bit more deadly or contagious than it is now, we would have really been in a predicament which may not have been able to be dealt with enough to heal from this crisis in our lifetime.
So, a huge Achilles heel has been discovered in our world. If we look at this as a training session, a pre-black belt grading or regional (smaller competition), where it really doesn’t go your way, even perhaps taking a knock which shocks or knocks the wind out of you. Martial Arts teaches you to get back on the horse, learn from your weakness or gap in your defence and prepare to defend for a bigger challenge or even a real life self defence situation. Your response time with defence and counter-attack will no doubt improve with extra practice and the extra motivation to not have the same thing happen. When one starts, we don’t throw people into the deep end in terms of contact sparring or more advanced self defence training because a resistance and conditioning needs to be built up over time. Sometimes an accident happens, and the blow may feel like too much to handle, but with the correct mindset and guidance it is seen for what it is. Preparation!
We, as the human race will be much more prepared for the inevitable next and possibly worse pandemic. Whether from government detection, speed of response, budget allocation to pandemic research and us normal everyday people having a new perspective on how to conduct our lives, etc.
Taekwon-Do itself was in fact born out of hardship as the Founder of Takewon-Do’s Son GM Choi Jung Hwa and President of our organisation pointed out in a message recently.
Whenever a student progresses to the next belt, it can often feel overwhelming when looking at the new pattern or syllabus in the beginning. It can feel like standing at the bottom of a mountain, looking up and thinking how on earth am I going to climb it. I myself have reached Sixth Dan and am on the final pattern or syllabus of Taekwon-Do. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t feel that way for a short while, each time I graded. Then I remember, I always feel that way and always have managed to look straight ahead and take one step at a time. These last few years have been the hardest for me, due to many injuries (not necessarily all Taekwon-Do related, more due to age and hereditary back issue as well as an Achilles issue and currently an injured rib). I have taken each issue and applied the same logic to it and taken step by step to correct the issues which has allowed for great improvement in my injuries even though at times I thought there may be no hope, especially with my back. So, the preparation for this next grading will be my most memorable because of the obstacles I have to overcome including the largest of requirements in terms of syllabus work and the pressure of it being a Master grade in ITF Taekwon-Do which would be a significant milestone for me.
This situation is somewhat similar to my current situation in my martial arts path. Two of the five tenets of Taekwon-Do repeated every class is ‘Perseverance’ and ‘Indomitable Spirit’, which is very suited to this situation.
In fact, all the tenets are suited perfectly for this situation. They are: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit. I believe that when members recite these at the end of every lesson from now on it will have even more of clearer meaning to everyone.
One of the biggest reasons that I receive when people start martial arts, with the obvious fitness, self defence aspects is Discipline. Often the word discipline conjures up a strict teacher waiting to punish you, lol. Discipline is much more than that and not the meaning that I am referring too. As my Brother Denis Magua a fellow 6th Dan and instructor in Canada emphasised the other day during a session. Discipline is what carries you through when motivation fades.
I know after training for so many years, motivation is fleeting, with peaks and valley’s, without the framework of discipline great things cannot be achieved! So, the title should actually be motivation and discipline from a Martial Arts Perspective. Martial Arts requires the habit of discipline to be built up, without it, achievement would not be possible.
Even in this lockdown period, small acts of discipline in everyday life are so important. Doing your best to maintain routines even if slightly adjusted. These small forms of discipline, such as making the bed, shaving or brushing your hair, doing some exercise or working/ researching some things you wouldn’t normally have time to focus on. The discipline of obeying your governments guidelines during this time is also paramount.
If you are working during this time, consider yourself lucky even though you may be working harder than normal including all the other responsibilities such as housework and schooling for your kids if you have. We of course all appreciate your efforts in helping keep things functioning, and also especially if putting yourself more in harms way than those quarantined.
Martial Art by nature is preparation for bad situations. It teaches you to always have back up plans and combinations, knowing that often the first strike isn’t enough, the second or third is often the one set up to do the job. I have always learnt there is a defence for every attack, we are in survival mode now, our counter attack or rematch will come if you can be calm. If in a panicked state, the answer or opportunity to counter-attack won’t be easily available or show itself. Staying calm in Martial Arts as in life is so important as hard as it may be, knowing the fact that there is an answer available with patience and positivity, as well.
The founder of Taekwon-Do General Choi Hong Hi said Pain is the best instructor but no one wants to go to its class. Well my friends we are in that class now and we must choose if we benefit from it for the future👊🥋
There are many more things I could say and perhaps others will add too. I hope this helps in any small way.
Wishing you all health, safety and positivity.
Taekwon and all the best,