There is something about marital arts training. Once it gets hold of you, you may think you can escape it and maybe you can for a while, but it always pulls you back.
Below in an excerpt from an article that appeared at Plum Publishing. The full post made be read here.
The Single IngredientMany (many) years ago a teacher asked me, “What do you think is the most important attribute of a Kung Fu student?” He continued, with suggestions, “Speed? Strength? Intelligence?” I voted for the last. I had seen so many students who, if they only understood what they were doing, everything would have been fine.
He shook his head. “Perseverance.” It was my first lesson in teaching and it took some while to understand why this was so.
So, decades later, I’m talking with one of our school’s top instructors. We are discussing a new student. He has come to us, supposedly, with a few years of Praying Mantis. The truth is that he can hardly stand up straight. Even his basic punches are weak, flimsy and tentative. When he turns from horse stance to bow stance he leans away from the actions, rotating his front foot on the wrong pivot point, shifts off-balance, sticks his butt out, and even has a fairly strange expression on his face. I am almost admiring that he can gather so much rotten fruit in one basket.
But we begin talking, as instructors do, and after thinking of teaching tricks that might help, I remind her, “It’s always hard when the student may not be talented but is determined. Then they are really ok with reps, being put off to the side, given few instructions. Trouble is, if they are willing to stick, so are we. It’s our obligation.” I mention the old adage about perseverance but she’s never heard it. So I tell her the saying and how I learned it. “It’s an old teaching adage,” I say as I arbitrarily pick up a book from the shelves. It’s the “Cheng School Gao Style Baguazhang Manual.” As we chat, I randomly crack it open to page 116 and read…
“Teachers should have a soft spot for endurance; students should have modesty and perseverance. Teachers should regularly demonstrate, often explain, and diligently make corrections. Students should regularly practice, often ask questions, and diligently receive instruction. …”