Guest post by Rob Nomura
I’d like to share a method that will help you use your training time better, and enable you to master Wing Chun (or anything else that’s important to you) faster and deeper. Meaning you’ll retain the information longer, and use it more expertly.
If you’re like me, you take Wing Chun seriously and spend a lot of time on it, invest money in your success, and think about it often. Yet, it’s more of a hobby, not your career or a personal obligation like raising a family or completing university studies.
In other words,you’re busy and don’t have a lot of time to waste. Use this method and make each training minute count!
The Training ‘Fog’ Slows Down Your Progress More than You Know…
Wing Chun training starts in the mind.
Some would put it like this: ‘When the cup is full, no more will pour in.’
Where I train (and in past schools, too) most students get to class unprepared. They are present but their mind and body are somewhere else.
In class, they’re thinking about events earlier in the day or what they have to do afterclass. For instance, “I need to pay the phone bill” or “I forgot to pick up the dry cleaning.” Or, they re-play the traffic they fought to get to class, maybe remembering an argument at work. Or, they just feel tired or hungry.
That’s a lot to have on your mind. Often you don’t even notice your focus is somewhere else because most of it is unconscious… The cup is full, and your mind is in a fog.
Clear the Calculator, Wipe the Board Clean, Pull Out a Clean Sheet of Paper…
In Wing Chun, when we talk about dominating the centerline we say, ‘two objects can’t occupy the same space at the same time.’ Well, that goes for your mind, too.
‘Two competing thoughts can’t occupy the focus of your mind at the same time.’
Imagine a calculator for a moment. Before you can use it to do a math problem, you have to clear the screen. If you don’t clear it of the previous math problem, you’re not going to get the right answer.
If you’re trying to learn a new move, or perfecting one you learned before, you’re not going to do it well carrying around mental baggage. It will slow your learning, or worse, block you from truly learning at a deep, master level. The cup is full.
You must first wipe the board clean, and then you’ll be ready to accept new skills and properly polish old ones to express them like a grandmaster.
Here’s a Mental Routine You can use to Clear Your Mind and Master Wing Chun
(or anything else important to you):
Note: ‘Clearing your mind’ is a skill itself. At first, it may be difficult to do and you may not feel the benefits. But with practice it gets easier. Once you get it, you’ll use it to improve any area of your life (Wing Chun, a career skill, university studies, and more).
First, Calm Down and Relax —
Close your eyes – Cutting out visual stimulation helps to quickly reduce mental distractions.
Find a quiet place – It doesn’t need to be sound proof. White noise like the hum of an engine, listening to your breathing, or an even level of indistinct noise like dozens of conversations in a cafe works too. You want to cut down auditory stimulation to reduce mental distractions.
Calmly count backwards from 5 to 1 – As you count down, feel for physical tension in your body. Start from the head down to the toes. Consciously relax those spots. Pay special attention to tension around your jaw, shoulders, neck, diaphragm, and hands. Many people tense these parts and not notice.
Just relax and loosen yourself mentally and you’ll feel it physically. Also, exhaling with purpose through your mouth can help quicken relaxation.
Tell yourself you are ‘fully relaxed’ when you reach the number 1.
Next, Empty the Cup —
In this relaxed and calm state, mentally look in front of you for roadblocks – Ask yourself “What’s holding me back?” “What’s bothering me right now?”
BEWARE: the first few times you do this, you may get buried under an avalanche of everything that is bothering you and holding you back! However, the more often you take out the trash, the less junk you’ll deal with each time.
As issues start popping up, like “pay the phone bill, fill the car with gas, buy books for school, I’m tired, I feel sore from last class, why was Johnathan a jerk at work, etc.” Answer each one positively and in the present tense.
Say something like, “I can take care of this later, I’ve done it before,” “this is a simple issue to fix and I can do it later.” Then mentally push it aside so it’s not blocking your path forward. You are clearing the calculator, wiping the board clean, emptying your cup.
And then, Fill Your Cup with Wholesome Mental Drink —
After You Clear Away the Roadblocks, Fill Your Cup with What You Really Want! Fill your mind, attention, and focus with what you DO want to achieve. Use positive words in the present tense. For example, “I’m a Wing Chun sifu.” “Mastering Wing Chun comes easy and quickly to me.” “I have sigong level visual and contact reflexes…”
Write down a short list of goals/targets ahead of time and focus on one or two items (i.e. straight punch and bilsao) for about a week at a time, then move on to the next targets on the list. The extra time and focus can really help these skills sink in.
Finally, Match Action with Mental Preparation —
Count back up from 1 to 3 and open your eyes, feeling awake, refreshed, and ready for ACTION! Up to this point you have not moved a finger physically, but you’re done priming your brain. In this more ideal state start learning new Wing Chun skills, polishing and perfecting old ones, or executing Wing Chun in Real Life. Get up and start D-O-I-N-G.
Practice this routine for the next month. And also try it out on other parts of your life. Just replace the Wing Chun focus with something else. Perhaps, giving a great sales presentation at work, completing a research paper for school, or speaking a foreign language.
Rob Nomura is the editor of www.WingChunLife.com where he’s dedicated to helping busy martial artists balance everyday life and reach kung fu nirvana. He trains Wing Chun, fills in and leads classes at his local kwoon, and continually seeks to make his own life and Wing Chun more effective. Join his newsletter today and receive a virtual bag of special kung fu gifts: http://www.WingChunLife.com/wing-chun-newsletter.html