The Power of 'Aha!'

After years of keiko, the increments in education of kata and kinaesthetic awareness may begin to plateau. It’s only natural. If one has been studying the same art for many years then this truth is even more probable. The body attempts to mimic, adapt and ultimately hone the movements being taught over time. The brain shares in this function of learning too, but in doing so, there is a slippery slope of complacency that can present itself. The real danger is in honing a movement that is flawed in its foundation, ultimately leading to an ingrained mnemonic that can be extremely difficult to break. This is also true in the psychology of our martial attitude, and indeed, our lives outside the dojo. 

Yet, when we break new ground as a long-standing student or as someone moving through their years on this planet, the potential for invigorating growth, comprehension, inspiration and the breaking of old paradigms is multiplied in direct proportion to our years of study. Is it not? 

When we’ve been performing an everyday task or set of responses to perhaps a job, a spouse, a friend, a technique on the mats, in a certain routine manner with a known or predictable outcome, we are in jeopardy of closing off our potential for growth and understanding if we ‘think we know’. Growth, is an integral ingredient in our intention to train and in life. 

Case in point. Last night I was moving through a technique. A technique I’ve seen and performed numerous times, but never with any real mastery. After growing frustrated with a few different methods of trying to effect the correct application, Morris came upon my problem relating to footwork. I looked at the technique as if seeing it for the very first time because nothing I was doing or thinking was working. I thought I knew all the steps within the technique, so what was I missing? He showed me what needed to be done several times, but I still couldn’t get it to work. Suddenly I had a light bulb moment. My first real, “Aha!” experience in a while. I saw a difference in what the footwork should be and not what I automatically assumed I was already doing. 

The movements were not the same. My closed mind and the flawed foundation I had honed in the technique were holding me back from seeing the actual technique. “Aha!” My body began to tingle with the revelation, literally. I was energised from my core. I was grateful for Morris’ mastery and revitalised with a sense of new beginnings somehow. The simple difference in footwork was not going to make me a master in any other aspect of my training, but the shift in mindset was astounding. I was ‘awake’ again. A beginners mind almost. Priceless. I stopped thinking I knew and for a moment allowed myself to ‘not know’. Just as the zen monk, Seung Sahn, teaches his students time & time again, “Only don’t know!” Once I opened myself to that concept I was free of any constricting, preconceived or contradicting outcomes. If only we could apply this more often to other aspects of our training and in general life. Imagine what could be achieved?

Travis de Clifford
Ni Kyu
Sessa Takuma


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