To be effective in the martial arts, whether it's in a life-preservation or sport-combat scenario, how much you know doesn't matter nearly as much as how well you know what you know.
Quality in technique, while simple to understand, is not easy to come by. Acquiring it requires years and years (decades, even) of devoted, mindful practice. I've been training in the martial arts for almost forty years. My signature technique is the right round kick. I've probably thrown more than 200,000 right round kicks in my life. And now, after all these years, I think I'm finally starting to get the hang of the technique's initial (and rudimentary) element: the left drop-step.
One of my aims in life is to master this part of the technique sometime by the time I'm in my mid-nineties. That gives me about forty more years to master this initiating step. Just the initiating step, Dave? Why not the entire technique itself? Good question. Here's my answer: even though I aspire to live to be at least 120, I don't think that will give me nearly enough time to master the entire technique (including all it's many nuanced expressions). To me, a realistic goal is to master the initiating step prior to passing from this life. I will strive to accomplish this goal by pouring my whole heart into its execution every time I throw a right round kick. I call this kind of devotion whole-heartedness, where, in and through every right round kick I throw, I empty myself out completely into the execution of that one element.
Now, in focusing on the initiating step, that doesn't mean I'm not going to strive also to prefect the other aspects of my right round kick. I plan to do just that! But what I'm going to do is focus preeminently on beginning well, executing well, and finishing well the initiating step.
And then, I'm going to allow that whole-heartedness to bleed over into my execution of the other elements of the technique.
And then, I'm going to let that same whole-heartedness bleed over into my execution of other techiques.
And then, I'm going to let that ever-expanding whole-heartedness bleed over into how I live out the other elements of my life. Like, say, how I treat others by listening to them intently and seeking to empty myself into them to the fullest extent possible.
To me, the above is the path to whole-heartedness: learning to empty myself out into something small and then letting that experience influence (or tutor me in) how to approach everything else in life.
You can take a similar approach in your life. Choose something small, like, say, brushing and flossing your teeth or being on-time for appointments, and empty yourself out into that one thing. And then, let that experience begin to leaven progressively other aspects of your life. Who knows? perhaps in fifty or sixty years, you may just become the most whole-hearted YOU walking the face of the planet. Now, how's THAT for a worthy goal?
Peace to you, friends...
IKIGAI Weekly Blog Schedule (per The Training Trinity):
Mondays: Meditative Prayer
Wednesdays: Holistic Discipline
Fridays: Martial Arts Practice