Archive for August, 2009
The “carrot & stick” motivational method (do ‘this’ and you get ‘this’) no longer works; instead we must focus on intrinsic motivation (the drive to do things for their own sake, the drive to do things because they matter) with emphasis on autonomy, mastery and purpose.
The world is being shut out,
The shutters on reality are closing.
The mind is held captive.
The room remains empty.
Dead bolts click-clank,
The chain link fence strains its metallic fabric.
Window blinds black out.
And candles are lit.
The room is cleansed.
My breath, my space.
A heavy bag and a pentagram.
“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realise this and you will find strength” – Marcus Aurelius
Throughout many points in history, great thinkers and philosophers have touched on very similar themes in search of truth and understanding. Whilst bathed in different names, languages and rituals, the core of these beliefs hold the idea of an interconnected universe, where everything is made from the same substance. This view point is very clear in Eastern philosophy, where belief systems such as Daoism, Sufism, and Sikhism hold at their cores this very idea. Stoicism, which had its roots in ancient Greece, touches on the above mentioned themes and in essence puts the idea of practicality to the forefront of its teachings.
A key theme in Stoicism is the logical idea that the only thing you have any real control over is your mind. All other things are external factors and these cannot be controlled as the number of influences over them is too great to maintain any control of. Therefore if you are able to exercise detachment from emotion and make decisions based purely on reason, you will ultimately find contentment and satisfaction, seeking serenity through self discipline. On reflection this may seem a very impractical step, moving toward indifference and apathy, but the idea is a drill for the mind. The endless highs and lows of emotions can be conquered by mastering goal setting and becoming better placed in the present moment to make rational decisions that would work in the long term; not allowing emotional reasoning to affect any choices. To emphasise again, this is an active mental process, continually exercising control over one’s mind and logic.
To build upon the idea of gaining control over your emotional state, an idea that again is reflected through eastern thought is the contemplation of your own mortality, accepting that one day you will meet death. In western culture today, this idea is seen as very taboo and is moved to the farthest chasms of our minds, when if thought about logical, an acceptance of this very idea can be both liberating and can cause an honest shift in our perspective of the world. In practical terms, a true acceptance of this idea can help us appreciate the time that we have left in this world, thus forcing us to take action and commit our goals to reality. On a spiritual level, the eradication of the fear of death and the acceptance of it allows us to view ourselves as part of the eco system that is the earth and not beings that are separate from it.
The idea that things happen to us for a reason is also paramount in Stoic thought. This is the acceptance of the external order. Seneca the Younger once said: “Things do not just happen, but arrive by appointment. Everything that happens is connected to something else. Everything that exists is connected to the logos”. According to Stoic doctrine the logos is also referred to as God, Zeus, Nature and Cosmic Meaning, it is a force that reigns over the universe. The idea of the logos is similar to The Dao, that which is everything and resides everywhere. In a practical sense, the disciplined and logical person can be happy under any and all conditions, because he has resigned himself to fact that events are neither good or bad, they just are.
Transcendence is a guest writer. Enjoy his ramblings and writings at;
A video of India’s “Monkey King”
Those who train with me know that I have spent a few years searching for the perfect wooden dummy and my search appears to be coming to a close. Buick Yip is a Hong Kong based Ving Tsun (Wing Chun) sifu, who hand makes some extremely sought after wooden dummies. Aaaron Cantrell of www.everythingwingchun.com has been kind enough to send me photos of various dummies and the high workmanship is clear;
Hopefully soon, you guys will get to train on an exceptional Wing Chun dummy.
Clip on how to improve your memory:
“Be careful about trusting intuition, but be more careful not to bend to the majority for whom “impossible” is a comforting excuse for inaction.” (I read this on someone’s blog)
Just finished reading Becoming Batman by E. Paul Zehr. Now, I’ve moved on to Influencer by Kerry Patterson et al., whilst listening to the audiobook As A Man Thinketh by James Allen with Albinoni’s Adagio playing in the background.
In the Korean film Oldboy, the lead character Dae-Su finds himself imprisoned for reasons unexplained to him. In an attempt to stop himself from going insane, he draws the outline image of an opponent on the wall which he attacks with punches. He does this with fury over a period of years and when he is finally released from his prison, he finds himself disconnected from humanity but emerges with superhero-like fight capabilities. Whilst obviously a work of fiction, I find some value in his story as a metaphor for strength of character and determination.
After arriving in a foreign country I found myself without training partners and spent at least two years training in isolation. Although staying motivated was difficult, I found that through determination and the use of some imagination, I could most of the critical components needed to be a functional fighter. I innovated unique ways of adding resistance to number of dynamic movements to make them harder.
Obviously I wasn’t able to engage in live sparring, so instead decided to work on power and striking instead. To improve chi sao (sticking hand) skills, I used resistance bands and light weights. The idea for resistance bands was given to me by Jesse Glover when I met him in early 2004 when he suggested the use of bicycle inner tubing tied and wrapped around the torso when doing the rotation platform required in chi sao.
All it takes is imagination and desire to succeed.