(This article originally appeared in Wudang, Vol. 10, Nos. 2 and 3)
There are five basic fundamental concepts which will provide the insights or background needed to achieve higher levels in Martial Arts. These concepts will help you in your overall relaxation skills.
The importance of your ability to relax is connected to several other factors: First and foremost, when you are in a relaxed state, your breathing is not constricted, but full and natural. Secondly, your alertness is clear and refined, and finally, your reactions are quick and uninhibited.
In order to achieve this relaxed state, you must practice meditation. The usual method of meditation emphasizes the physical acts of monitoring your breathing, becoming aware of any stress or tension, etc.
The following five guidelines will help you control your state of mind, a precondition of one’s behaviour.
Respect makes reference to how you treat others. You should always maintain a sense of mutual respect. You should not take on a position of superiority, whether or not it may appear justified. There is an infinite amount of experiences, and any single person cannot possibly have witnessed all of them in his or her lifetime. Therefore, your fellow man has experiences and ideas that you may never have encountered or contemplated before. This is why you can always learn from others.
In the area of the Martial Arts, your classmate/opponent possesses different ideas, levels of skill, etc., all of which are legitimate. There may exist better, faster, more effective techniques, but nevertheless, your opponent’s techniques are real and must be addressed. No two persons will attack or react in the same way (power, angle, or methods). If you are perceptive, you can learn from any variation/situation. When you take on a position of superiority you create an artificial barrier between yourself and others. This barrier will automatically create tension. Tension is the single most important hindrance you must avoid in order to achieve higher levels.
Be thoughtful and careful when acting. It is important that you analyze self and commit yourself to whatever actions you take. You should believe in your decision-making processes. If you do not believe (have faith) or do not understand, you will create a mental block, which will hinder your results. Once you understand how a process can help you, then your mind can accept it, giving it value and allowing you to concentrate. It will also allow you to expand, gaining greater insights of how other issues are related to one another.
This is a simple process. Understanding that you are only capable of doing one thing at a time, you can only process (solve) one issue at a time, you should not try to do two things at once. This will only split your focus as you move from one problem to another, and cause anxiety and stress. Single-mindedness will allow you to face the opponent with unrestrained whole-body power.
You must understand completely what you are trying to achieve, clearly defining the end results of what is to be gained. You must therefore strip away all the minor processes and methods in order to focus on the essence of the subject matter. By focusing, you will understand which processes and methods enable you to achieve the desired goal.
Your interaction with others should be based on self-respect and honour. You should not take a position of superiority, nor one of inferiority. In this harmonious (neutral) position, you will be at ease with others, allowing you to be relaxed, calm, and composed.