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The Karate Kid & The Secret Master
Copyright Pete Kautz, 2008
Probably everyone has seen the 80's movie "The Karate Kid" starring Ralph Machio and the late great Pat Morita. Though the sequels all stunk, the first film caught the imagination of American audiences who are normally apathetic to martial art movies in a whole new way.
For those of you who somehow missed out on seeing this, in a nutshell the story is about a teenager who gets his butt kicked by a gang from an evil martial arts studio. He then discovers a secret Karate master living next door who teaches him how to kick butt and get revenge.
Yeah, OK, it's not a lot on paper maybe but people ate it up in the day!
One of the reasons I think it played so well was not so much the revenge or the martial arts aspects, but instead the fantasy of the secret master. Who wouldn't like that, right? Some guy who's going to make you train when it's time to train, do all these things to strengthen your technique, and build you into a fighting machine.
While these kinds of secret masters are out there in the world the odds of this kind of fantasy becoming reality for most people is pretty dog gone low. I don't think that should be any shock.
But each of us possesses an 'inner master' who can do all these things if we will only let them.
Another name for this inner master could be 'self discipline', but it's not as easy to imagine an abstract idea like discipline as much as imagining a person, right? So let this part of your personality have an identity who will kick 'you' (your conscious self) into training.
If it helps to imagine a teacher you've physically trained with as your mental coach that's great. It'll be easier to remember how they sound and look than constructing something new in your mind. But even a fictional character you identify with (such as Yoda) could work if that's a strong enough image for you.
Now, if this sounds like a bunch of crap I can't blame you for thinking that. On the surface it sounds like something that might work for children or gullible people but not sophisticated adults. Wrong. It can work for anyone who lets it and to the exact degree to which they let it!
By this I mean the more you just relax and have fun creating this mental construct and interacting with 'them', the better this technique will work for you. Like doing kicks. You don't do the front kick one time and then say "OK, I've learned the front kick, I don't need to do it any more." You don't lift a weight one time and then throw it away. The more you do it, the better you get at it, pretty simple.
These kinds of trans-cognitive techniques allow for accessing useful information and mental states (such as 'the desire to go work out') which can not as easily be brought about through direct willpower.
As a personal example, sometimes it's really cold out and I know the metal weights will be freezing or I'm just tired and I don't want to go and workout. Pretty common right? Everyone has those days.
So, I just imagine some of my teachers from over the years. Men like Jim Keating and Professor Presas. Even just to mentally 'stand in their presence' for a few moments fills me with the desire to go train. Let alone to hear Professor's voice telling me "Peter, it is time to go and train! Come on, let's go."
(I can barely sit here and type without getting up and doing some Arnis in the office just thinking of it casually now!)
Probably each of you has a teacher like this from some point in your life who inspired you to become great at the martial arts. That's why you're reading this and trying to get better and better each day. Remember that teacher, how it felt to train with them, the sound of their voice and so on to use as inspiration now to take you further down your path to mastery.
All the very best,