Use your sense/s

More and more, practice of Martial Arts is done in front of mirrors and under the… rhythm of some music.
The mirror is supposed to make you see yourself and thus correct your movement. And the music is supposed to give you rhythm for your practice and… elevate your mood.

I will start with an “irony joke” about both mirrors and music, before getting grimy and serious…
So, if you happen to find yourselves under a real attack or life threatening situation, what is exactly the role of mirrors and music, that has accompanied your practice so far?
Oh, I see…
You will flip up a tiny portable make up mirror to see your own reflection, probably for the last time, and take that hard grimace you were practicing on for so long. And then change station or song on your MP3 in order to accompany your what? Your last… dance?...

Martial Arts can be learned, not only if you execute a technique correctly in the safety of a… studio, gym, or any other happy place, but when those techniques are practiced in an environment that allows you to sink them deep into yourself, making sure they stay there.
The Dojo is a place of silence and emptiness, so it can reflect your own caning. If you stuff it up with images, mirrors, music and noises (be silent when you practice, you can talk later) nothing, I repeat, nothing will reflect back on you.

Masters have it, that in silent practice you can hear the hum of the universe!
Masters must be very lonely creatures among noisy people, I guess.

So, if we stay deaf and blind, to music and images during the course of our practice, then there is a remote chance that someday, something will come through. But if you staff it up from the start, this change is lost for ever…
Another parameter of the above is:
When all hell breaks lose, then one is to concentrate under extreme conditions of “unpleasanties” that can be better described in a Martial manner as “the clang of war”
And guess what! In that kind of situation (of total chaos and confusion) you must remain focused on what it is you’re going to act on, pushing back what you see (that will freak you out) and what you’ll hear (that will freak you out as well)
If you have trained yourself to look at things, as a viewer does when he is in front of his television, and not keep a parametrical view of the whole, and if you have in a similar fashion, trained yourself to hear instead of listening, no matter how good you are you will fail to act as a warrior when you have to, simply because your concentration will be distracted.

The first, and most reliable, of human’s senses is to feel. Not to mention that it is the last of all senses to leave us when we die.
Using one’s senses in a Martial manner is a training on its own, not that it isn’t included in our daily routines of techniques, but you have to give it that special attention in order to bring it to surface.
Our senses are just the brain’s informers, the final judge is always the mind. So, regardless of how sharp our senses are, it is the way that we “scan” with them, that is more important. If you practice your Martial Art correctly you will automatically get yourself in the right mode of using them.

The marksman above seeing will observe what is in his sight.

The experienced musician above hearing will listen to what he isolates.

The good hunter will not only smell his prey but will sniff its trace.

The caning outdoorsman will taste what he will find for food, but will before test it (by placing a very tiny potion under his tongue)

The Martial Artist will feel his “partner in practice” by making physical contact and “read” him, before he throws his technique at him…

Please consider that if your senses somehow could be “too sharp” you would be too jumpy to act calmly due to too much information coming in too fast.
Like a cat for example that can’t travel on a straight line, because she is always absorbed by her extraordinary senses!
The idea should always be to use your senses in order to control your environment as “widely” as possible and not jump to the roof at every noise and sound.

A lot of talk is done about… a sixth sense! When I’m being asked this question I always say something like “learn to use your five, first, and then we will see”
The truth of the matter is that if someone would reveal us a sixth sense, and I mean to all of us, the next day we would be looking for a… seventh sense.
The sixth sense can go under the classic “more is better” axiom, that does not belong here.

Food for thought:
If one is to train himself to use his senses correctly, he will clearly rise above the attention and awareness of the un-trained man.
And finally, it is said that Masters (of Ki/Chi involving Arts) can use their Ki power in accord with their senses, and even more than that…
Time for practice, isn’t it?

November 24, 2006