Saturday, June 21, 2008

Rushing and Ego

I am always cautioned not to rush my techniques. Entirely different from pacing techniques too quickly, it is a correction for a lack of concentration or an ego defense mechanism. In either case, it leads to jerky muscling and rushed timing, meaning there is no kime. All movement must be smooth and accelerate into the kime with a flow. Unfortunately, when people aim for the kime timing and power, there is a tendency to tighten far too early, and I am no exception. The feeling of the muscles activating early makes a technique feel stronger, but at the same time, makes it weaker.

Instead, I should focus on breathing and ensure there is no pause between my inhale and exhale. This causes jerkiness because the working muscles must activate once more to accelerate, disrupting the flow and timing. Of course, I have been hammered for not concentrating on breathing and breathing rhythm… it is just starting to make more sense now.

Ego comes into play because it is easy to concentrate on the first part of a movement. The final execution and kime timing is the hard part. When the other parts are done more or less correctly but the timing is off, things will feel very weak (from what I hear, even proper timing feels weak to those not used to it... I suppose I'll find out one day...). The subconscious mind doesn’t like this and compensates through muscling.

Working on this timing really takes people out of their comfort zone. Just like hitting the bag, people avoid it because the feedback confirms their suspicions that their technique is weak. Many of those that do train on the bag muscle it, which is really just another term for self-delusion.

The only way forward is “muga” (無我), no ego, and "mushin" (無心), no-mind. Snaggy likes to talk about that a lot, and I am starting to see why. As he puts it, ego gets in the way of living in the moment, in the now. Without muga mushin, there can be no refinement because things like rushing will always get in the way. This is not abstract Zen philosophy, this is the difference between going through the motions and training to fight.