I love the film Groundhog day, anything Bill Murray is in is usually fantastic and it is a great story of redemption and self realisation. Watching it again with my daughters last night it also really rang a bell with me is respect of development in martial arts.
Bill Murray is self centred, vain and more concerned about what the world thinks of him than anything else. When he fails, he is able to bury it inside himself and move on to the next audience. Over the years I have seen many people come and go in wing chun with this approach to the art. It's a chance to show off, talk the talk and when they fail they have a miraculous ability to pretend it did not happen (there is usually an excuse). When they succeed, the ego is not satisfied and the spiral continues. Why is this? Something to do with low self esteem and ego.
The next step is a realisation that something is missing, an aknowledgement that the audience might be more impressed with a demonstration of deeper knowedgle. In the film Bill Murray learns a few french poems, he says what he guesses are the right things to impress the girl, but his eventual failure is obvious because it is skin deep. In wing chun terms this happens when someone discovers the internal/relaxed side of the art. It is so easy to use the words, to wear the virtual clothes of an internal practitioner, but without putting in the practice it is ultimately hollow if there is nothing to back it up. Once exposed very soon you see these people returning to online name calling, blaming and generally showing themselves in their true light.
The final step is a realisation of who you are and what you have. The only audience you have to satisfy is yourself. For every wrong thing you have done, for each empty technique you have learned, you will need to spend time undoing them. Here we have a true inroad to internal ability. Instead of doing things for the sake of it or because of habit, you respond with your true natural instinct. Failure is seen as a learning opportunity; fellow class mates and students are seen as partners and not victims. Humility is not a badge worn but an understanding and acceptance of your own ability.
In the film Bill Murray fails thousands of times before he finds redemption. He finally stops trying to be something and sees what was always there in the first place. There is no shortcut to understanding wing chun, the human body is immensely powerful but we fetter it with stress and poor habits of movement. The first step to improving is finding a quietness, time for the body to settle. Just stop, let the ego drop and see what is possible. Reckless people rarely question themselves and are victims to their own prejudices and habits (and consequently need fighting skills to get them out of trouble).
A legitimate question you might ask about this is what has it got to do with a fighting art. The answer is choice; instead of being a victim to circumstances and your own habits you can choose how to deal with situations as they really are and not as your ego might perceive. With a more mindful approach to training a clarity starts to appear where you see past your habits and the movements of others, with this a knowledge how and when to act becomes clearer and removes the need for many of the techniques which others crave.
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