Most of the time when I open this laptop I am looking for something and in the process of my own adventures I find a meaningful answer to perhaps a question that I wasn’t sure that existed. Wrap your head around that. Its through teaching art and being foremost a student of art that helps me grow as an artist. Through teaching I get to meet some of the most amazing people that I truly don’t think I would have met otherwise. Through conversations with students or their families I receive enlightenment about one thing or another. Here’s the cool part…it is almost always unexpected. Sometimes I don’t even realize it until a week later or a year later. As the years have passed by I am getting better recognizing these tidbits of knowledge gold. I gain, in my opinion, more than my students get and in the long run it makes me a more competent and qualified instructor. I love stories and if I am engaging in a conversation about martial arts, I could talk for hours. Stories about martial arts are also particularly engaging. If you get me on almost any other topic there’s not much to add and I don’t really care for debating about anything. If you disagree with me that’s ok. If you agree with me…that’s ok too.
For anyone who’s ever trained for a significant amount of time realizes the dedication it takes to persevere and become accomplished. Not necessarily an expert, but definitely worthwhile. There are countless techniques I have learned over the years and if I’m quoting my Shaolin Kempo instructor – “Every time you learn 1 technique, you are really learning 20 techniques”. 20! If you really think about the techniques themselves they are all packed with all kinds of information, so that explains the thought behind the number. Our techniques are called combinations and I believe the first one I ever learned was number 6 combination. I met me SKK instructor in 1994, I believe. Do the math.
Here recently I had an awesome opportunity with a new adult student about things being perfect. This is also something that I have struggled with to certain degree here lately and it was covered briefly in the last blog. Being a perfectionist is admirable quality. It means you care about an end result. It means you absolutely want to do your best and you’re very mindful about how you want things to go, how you want it to look, and the best way to go about it. Perfectionism. You don’t mind putting in the time and you want it done right. How’s your math? So, 6 combination since 1994 and if I learned anything from it, I learned how to make it mine in a sense. If I was locked into making 6 combination perfect it wouldn’t have given me the opportunity to learn other combinations. Which make me well-rounded as a martial artist. Here’s what’s important about this…the things you are learning and studying now will NEVER reach a level of what we think to be perfect. You might attain a level of good or great or whatever but it will never be perfect no matter how many times you do it. There are a few influential instructors in my training. 3 or 4 to be exact. Before I overdosed on Bruce Lee I was hearing a lot of things about him. If I believed he was the standard by which all others was measured and I often hear that he never reached his full potential…that tells me something. I learned last weekend that if you are truly passionate about what you are doing you will find a way to chase it. You continue to evolve. You continue to make it your own. If you are not changing then you reside in stagnation which will drag you down and muddy any learning process.
So here we are at the crossroads of your Shaolin Kempo. Whether you are learning 6 combination or 26 combination understand that it will never be quite the way you want it. All you can do is your best. All you can be is the better version of yourself. If I am learning lightning leopard and trying to make it spot on and I don’t want anything else before then, know that the other techniques that you don’t want to look at yet will be what enhances your lightning leopard. Its the combination of everything that increase the potential of the perfection of what your doing. 26 combination cant exist without the other 25 that came before it. This also works in the reverse. After years of studying the advanced material enhances the novice material. Different angles and different viewpoints is what makes it complete. Shaolin Kempo looks at those angles and viewpoints and we don’t have just one way of doing things. So, I may not be able to make it perfect but I can make it better. I can make it better every time I execute it and by learning different material at different times I can make it work for me which is the goal here…make it work for you. Is it efficient? Is it effective? Is it practical? Is it innovative? Yes. Is it perfect? will it ever be? Not really. The journey is taking you somewhere. Through hills and valleys and over mountains. Just look at all that beautiful scenery. Enjoy the ride.