Over the past 25 days I have had the opportunity to spend time considering what the practice of martial arts has taught me about life. It has been an interesting exploration and path of discovery, I look forward to the next 75 days!
Today I came across an article written for Black Belt Magazine, a publication I read on a regular basis. This particular article was published online and can be seen here:
Written by Dave Lowery, a gentleman of the highest caliber who practices martial arts for self-defense purposes and speaks the truth about all things violent. I have found his thoughts on self-defense, violence and modern martial arts training very valuable in my journey through the arts. In his latest article he talks about Japanese Kata, forms, as practiced in Traditional Karate. His thoughts are completely applicable to any martial art that employs kata or forms as a training tool. He also makes some great points that I feel apply to life and how we live it successfully.
- Structural Integrity
I am not going to rehash Mr. Lowery’s thougths on the martial arts application of structural integrity. Instead, I want to look at the concept in terms of how we live.
He notes that from the outside most kata look like an “arbitrary arrangement of techniques”, but that it is so much more than arbitrary. If someone were to take a close look at your life and write down every action you take and every word you speak for a week would those notes appear to be “an arbitrary arrangement of thoughts and actions”?
To be successful we need to arrange our lives like a well designed kata. Does it have structure? Are we making choices in actions and words that fit a particular purpose, our “success structure”? When we apply ourselves to an activity are we doing so with integrity? Are we giving each action or word proper thought and effort? If you look at the “notes of your life” you should be able to see the “success structure” and that your path towards that goal was paved with the integrity to always do the right thing at the right time with full attention and effort.
So, you have structure to your life. Excellent! Now, lets look at the Shin, or “mind,” that your life is guided by. To reach any goal you must coordinate your effort. Each choice and action needs to have a coherence, they must work in harmony to take you step by step towards your goal.
When our lives show this coherence, or flow, we see greater success.
In poorly constructed kata, the performer looks like a little kid in a big toy store, his attention in a dervish-like spin. In a good kata, there’s the sense that the practitioner is controlling time and space, setting the pace. This is an expression of the focus, the intent of the kata.
Which are you? Are you running endlessly from one activity to another or do others look to you for stability and structure? Are you focused or frantic? By creating intent, using it as your focus and adhering to the structure it provides give you control of your life and its path.
Structural integrity. Coherence. Intent. These three pillars support a kata. They also serve as the pillars of a successful life!