Mindfulness or Mindlessness in Training
Training in any discipline requires effort.That should go without saying. In examining our methods we should look at how effective those training methods are and what return we actually get from our efforts. Repetition it has been said is the mother of perfection. So perhaps it might make sense to understand what we are repeating in our training sessions and why.
In Kenpo, we learn through a process of seeing , doing and feeling. Our conscious mind filters this information and with enough repetition it is (we hope) hard-wired into our sub concious mind. Once there ( in the sub conscious) the information is stored forever, ready for utilisation in the case of a pathogenic attack.
In training at my school Motivational Martial Arts based in Wicklow, I am looking at training methods by which accessing the sub conscious mind is made easier.
To learn marital arts or self defence on a conscious level by looking as if we are ,well, learning to fight, doesn’t yield as much as if we were to practice abstractly.
In order to assimilate the physical and bio chemical attributes needed to actually fight, for real, we must by pass or distract the conscious mind. This involves shutting out the “clutter” of the conscious mind.
In my study of Kenpo and Tai Chi I have found that this “distraction” or “abstractness” occurs most significantly in form work. Long seen by many as a mere prerequiste for grade testing or a collection of techniques, forms or kata serve a much more important purpose.
Enraging the body in form practice will, after the basic understanding of the physical motion, enable a relaxation or slowing down of conscious thought. Once this is achieved the real lesson can begin.
With the conscious mind now relaxed or distracted the sub conscious mind is open to suggestion. The suggestion or information that we present to the sub conscious is contained within the form. This data includes correct body alignment,balance, integrity of our physical structure, power generation through optimum body mechanics, sequential flow and harnessing of explosive energy.
By being mindful of becoming mindless we really begin to reap the rewards of our systems form work and training methods.
Note: Accessing the information in kata or forms requires an understanding of the sequences of movement in a particular form. This requires practice. In my opinion this is one of the prime reasons for a high drop out rate in classical martial art. Most students will not stick around long enough to really learn the form and to reap the benefits. In my locality , as is the trend nationally, the most popular ”martial arts” are kickboxing and mma along with the occasional ulitamte commando killer elite “guru” ( not to be confused with those who genuinely teach real defensive tactics, from real experience). The rise in popularity of the aforementioned is in my opinion partly due to the ommision of any type of form or kata in their systems apart from a make your own up musical form which would be more at home on the X Factor than in a real dojo.