‘Practice makes perfect’ as the saying goes and there is no denying that.
Nobody, no matter the discipline, can expect to progress without practice.
However, practice requires particular constraints.
Accuracy is a big one. This means reproducing as accurately as possible what it
is you have been shown. This means you must both watch and listen carefully. If
you do not watch and listen, please note CAREFULLY, you cannot hope to be
accurate. You may be thinking, “I watch and listen” (?). I would say that you may
be watching but not seeing. Listening but not hearing. Otherwise the same errors
would not be occurring. Being accurate or practicing to be accurate has two
important functions, both complementary. Firstly, being accurate ensures
reliability and gives guaranteed strength and depth to what you do. Secondly,
and more importantly, being accurate is your most important tool for overcoming
your ‘self’. Self will always settle for second best or less. Self does not want you to
be accurate otherwise self diminishes and ultimately disappears. In the field of
martial arts, ‘the consciousness of self is your greatest hindrance’ to quote the
late Bruce Lee. When we listen to self, we run into all kinds of problems. The
thing is ‘Self’ is a sly opponent. “Don’t train today, it’s raining”. “Do it this way. It’s
easier” and nine times out of ten, you listen.
Many, I know, enjoy martial arts training for a variety of reasons, none of which I
have a problem with. The Ten Shin Sho Kai was founded on the basis of
discipline as a means of achieving a higher goal through the sound study and
practice of a martial art. An art that would produce new warriors who in some
small way would improve the quality of the society in which we live.
The warriors of old needed to pay constant attention to their skills in order for
them to be sound. Weather conditions and making do played no part in their
training. Fear of losing Self, weakness in technique would ensure a speedy exit
from existence. I have said on many occasions that the blood stained battle fields
have gone, but battle fields remain and we fight on them every day. If we/you are
not prepared there is little hope for survival and like the inattentive warrior we too
will exit in some way or another.
Whatever we do or whatever positions we find ourselves in are a result of
choices we make. If you are making the same errors whose fault is that? “I have
no time to practice” is what I often hear. I do not accept this. You/we can always
find the time and space IF WE SO WISH TO DO SO. Get up earlier. Practice
after work. Twenty minutes before going to bed. But this takes discipline, Self
Discipline. The discipline of Self.
Your teachers with their skill, knowledge and experience are your guides along
the Aiki path, but they cannot walk for you. This you must do yourself.
Listen. Watch. Practice. Be accurate. Or as Musashi would put it: “Be like water
on stone. Practice this well”.