Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Overcome being Overwhelmed

Many of use feel overwhelmed in today society. I would like to answer a different question to offer some insight into how to simplify and manage feeling overwhelmed.

Many student have asked me, "Which is the best martial arts?". They seem to think that there is one Martial Arts that is best or that all Martial Arts are different and using those different Martial Arts together is going be the most effective way of studying Martial Arts. I'd like to bring a little something different for all of our students to consider.

First, everyone who studies Martial Arts no matter what the Martial Art is essentially the same. We all have two eyes, two ears, two arms, two legs, two feet, ten toes, ten fingers, and one mind. Even though each Martial Art technique appears different they are all performed by a person. For example Tae kwon do has a lot more emphasis on kicks because it developed in a country which is relatively flat. Brazilian Jujitsu focuses more on ground work because of the fact that 80% of the fights do end up on the ground. Tai chi emphasizes movements that appears slow and soft from the outside because they were developed with a particular background that emphasize those things.

Even though this differences are real, the fact remains that each of this Martial Arts were developed around the human body and the physics which describes our world. These dictate the fundamental movements that the human body can make. While the movements of the human body are limitless in in a certain sense, they can really be reduced to only three movements.

No matter the Martial Art, no matter the movement, every movement is encompassed either by a circle, a figure eight, or a spiral downward or upward. Those three shapes describe the movement of your center of gravity. That's the point on your body which has the same masses as rest of your body. It is very important in Martial Arts because moving this point instead of your arm or your leg guarantees that the movement will be the most efficient and powerful it can be. Every Martial Art has realized this and gears their movements around this fact. This results in only three types of movement whether you're doing an armbar in jujitsu or you're doing a flying dragon kick in Tae kwon do. Whatever the movement, it must come from one of these three simple patterns.

So, as you study the Martial Arts realize, you're learning a multitude of different Martial Arts at our school yet at the same time all of the movements fundamentally are the same. The more you advance, the more that you see how each of this movements can be reduced to its simplest form.

This realization was described by Bruce Lee as daily decrease instead of daily increase and is demonstrated in the famous story of Leonardo da Vinci being chosen by the Pope as the artist to paint the Sistine Chapel. All the other artists had painted portraits or landscapes that were intricate and beautiful and had taken many months. He walked up with a piece of paper and a simple pencil and proceeded to draw a perfect circle that so impressed the Pope that he immediately chose him as the artist to create the Sistine Chapel.

This idea of simplicity being at the core of everything we do is a radical idea and fights the current of what we see today. We are overwhelmed with so much information and so many options that at times we can feel like there's too much to ever be able to do it all. We think that there are so many options how can we know which one is best. At times like this, I like to remember this simple idea of daily decrease. I saw the example of the instructors I trained with over the years that seemed to have very simple and straight forward ways of living. With their simple lives they deep effected the lives of so many through the mastery they had achieved in so many areas. Their day to day life was centered around a few central practices, one of which is Martial Arts. I saw how Martial Arts made their lives consistently better and allowed them to achieve the success that they attained.

I hope this idea is something that gives comfort to those who feel overwhelmed. That maybe if we stop and slow down and ask ourselves,

"What are the two or three things in my life that bring me, my family, and my friends the most joy?"

Then ask,

"What can I do right now in those areas to make my life more wonderful?"

If we can do that then all of the other things that appear so difficult, many times fall into place. I will end with a quote from one of my favorite instructors, Joe Hays or "Papa Joe" as all of his students used to call him. He said "If you don't do something from the heart, it's worthless." He also said that if you're ever confused, "Go back to the basics." This idea of going back to the basics and simplifying, is it the heart of what we do at the Family Martial Arts Academy. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share the thoughts and ideas that have made my life and the lives of my family more wonderful. I would love to hear your feedback because I really enjoy contributing. Thanks in advance.

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