More than Motions

This was written by my student, Josh Mullins

I test next week for my white sash. I am not sure of my readiness, and I am only beginning to see that there isn’t really ever an “attainment” to this art. I am also beginning to understand the “internal” aspect, as well.

Xing Yi Quan means “form, intention, fist.” From my readings I’m seeing that this means the mind thinks, and the body does. This came to me a bit more clearly at class last night.

Shifu Read was demonstrating on me a lot last night (i.e. I was getting thrown around quite a bit). Naturally, I’m pretty helpless against the attacks from my teacher. And then it hit me…why am I thinking I’m helpless? Why do I assume I cannot contend with someone larger or stronger than me? My whole life I’ve had this mindset: I am not strong enough…I’m not good enough…And, it’s true, but I’m looking at it wrong…

For the record, I am not coming at this as, if I just think I’m strong, I’ll be strong. There is SO much more to us, because we are both mind and body. Physical training is important, but I see I need some mental training as well. Being one who deals with depression pretty heavily, I learned something about myself. My will is weak, which is leading to weakness of heart, and thus affecting my whole life. Sometimes our biggest opponent is our own individual mindset. The martial art is internal.

When Shifu attacked, I realized I was running MENTALLY. My intention was weak, so my body became weak. When Shifu attacked, I realized he followed through on the intention of his attack. But his confidence isn’t so much from his training in the physical motions, it’s the fact that he knows what he’s capable of, and follows through. By assuming I’m capable of nothing, I do nothing. And not only in defensive/offensive attacks, but also in my day to day life.

I don’t believe in self-esteem. Christ esteemed himself as nothing, though being God. But He knew what God was capable of, and He followed through. I often get hung up in my sin, thinking I am useless to God and man, because I cannot seem to overcome my sin. I assume I am only capable of sin, because it is the will of my flesh. This doesn’t help the depression. But Christ didn’t do HIS will. He “does the will of Him who sent me.” It wasn’t so much about what Christ as a man was capable of, but what GOD was capable of through Him. He came to demonstrate this whole concept for us. My will IS weak. I AM weak. God is strong, and I am His. Thus, knowing God’s will for me and others, I should be able to follow through, despite my own weakness. The internal art in my life requires faith in God.

Those without God, seek “peace,” and therefore tend to have a stronger will, since they must rely on themselves to produce it (I’ve always wondered how the godless can have so much confidence). This, in turn, makes them hard to reach for Christ, because their will contends with God’s will. Gen. 6, before the flood, God says the “intention of his (man’s) heart was only evil continually.” It may not have necessarily been immoral by cultural or even Biblical standards, but the intention was to be self-providing and self-empowering (Tower of Babel). The intention of their hearts was contrary to the only intention in the universe of any value. God knows this leads to misery in the individual and society. This is why I’ve been miserable most of my life. I’m striving to attain some level of goodness to have peace of mind. I have fooled myself into thinking I have to do this for God. I have fooled myself into thinking this is HOW to serve God. This is not His will for me. His will is for Him to be my strength. We can’t be strong together. It’s one or the other. It’s my goodness or His. I believed a lie taught to me by culture, which has infiltrated the church. God doesn’t make us strong. He doesn’t want us to be strong. He wants us to trust His strength. He wants to us to acknowledge our lowly state, and rely on Him to cover it. This is the foundation of faith and departure from the Law. I am a legalist…

To relate this back to kung fu, I have also set up a law in my mind. I am low in rank, thus I cannot possibly do well. I think if I just practice the moves, get flexible, and gain some strength, I’ll be a good fighter. But the truth is, I must consider my intentions in the practice. WHY am I practicing babuda? What is my intention in wu hu shing? If I have no intention or will, then all these moves I’m testing on are just weird dances. I must tear down the striving to master a hand position, and understand why I need to have that hand position. Rather than see the moves as law, I need to see them in multiple applications. I need to practice the intention, not just the fist…

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About Shifu Read

Primary instructor of the school. Training in martial arts since he was 5. He started in kickboxing, then moved to XingYi at 18. At 32 he began training in BaGua. At 36 he began training in TaiJi. At 40, he began in BJJ. He loves to share his knowledge with his students and help them along in their own martial journey.
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