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Frustration is the Path

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Frustration is the Path

"Before I learned the art, a punch was just a punch, and a kick, just a kick.
After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick, no longer a kick.
Now that I understand the art, a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick."– Bruce Lee

A few years ago, I was engaged in a sparring session with one of my teachers.  It was frustrating more than most, not just because he was outclassing me, but because of the way he was doing so.  As we moved, I would see an opening or opportunity, and think to initiate an attack, only to find my teacher already countering my motion.

“You’re thinking.”

Then he would score his hit, and we would begin to move again.  Maybe this time I could attack him using this certain strategy.

“Thinking.”

Once again, I had begun an attack, only to find his fist in my face.

The entire match went on this way.

When you start practicing Jeet Kune Do, you really do not have much of an idea of what you are supposed to be doing, particularly if you have not ever practiced martial arts before.  As you begin to learn how to move, how to strike, how to clinch, how to grapple, you have so many things to think about as you train.  With all these things to think about, it is inevitable that you get stuck.

Let us say you are sparring with your partner.  They throw a jab, and your mind goes through all the things you have learned about slipping the jab.  You try to do what you have been taught, executing with proper footwork, keeping your guard up, and keeping your chin tucked all while not taking your eyes off your opponent.  Yet even if you successfully slip that jab, you eat the low kick they were setting up because your mind was so focused on slipping that jab.  When the opportunity comes to try and throw your own attack, you fail, because your mind was still focused on the impact of your opponent’s shin across your thigh muscle.

It can be very frustrating, and you feel like you have made no progress.  Many martial arts students experience moments like this and quit.  They may blame themselves, thinking they will never be able to get better.  They may blame the art, thinking it is not for them.  They may blame their teacher, thinking that they were holding out on them.

Chances are though, that you came to practice Jeet Kune Do out of some sense of frustration to begin with.  You were frustrated because you were not physically fit.  You were frustrated because you did not know how to defend yourself.  You were frustrated because you did not feel spiritually balanced.  If you quit here, then nothing has changed.

For those that do not quit here, things will not change immediately or over night.  As the days, weeks, and years pass, things that once required a lot of mental preparation now become thoughtless.  Postures which felt awkward can now be assumed easily.  Strikes, locks, and takedowns become second nature.  Now these students feel confident in situations that previously frustrated them.

To get there, they had to undergo hard training over a long time, and continually introspect on their practice and progress.  From their first training session, they continually worked at mastering the physical and spiritual lessons of Jeet Kune Do.  Finally, they come back to the place described by Bruce Lee in the Tao of Jeet Kune Do, “a punch is just a punch, and a kick is just a kick.”

Zen Master Takuan Soho once wrote,

"The beginner knows nothing about the ways of holding a sword, nor has any concern for himself. When the opponent strikes, he instinctively struggles without calculation. His mind is empty. But as soon as his training starts, he is taught how to hold the sword, where to place his mind and many other techniques, all of which make his mind stop at various places. For this reason, whenever he tries to strike the opponent, he has lost his freedom. As days, months, and years go by, as his training acquires fuller maturity, his bodily attitude, and his way of handling the sword advance toward "no-mindedness", which resembles the state of mind he had at the very beginning of training when he was altogether ignorant of the art. Thus, the frame of mind at the beginning and the end resemble each other."

Where in your life are you giving up with out putting in the work needed to achieve your goals?

What can you do today to develop a sense of urgency to face your frustration and get back to practicing?

My friend, if you’re looking to begin the path to dealing with your frustrations in life, go to https://marylandjeetkunedo.com/ today.


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